When your grandparents were hanging out on the corner of Main Street and wishing their parents would learn how to “chillax”, businesses didn’t invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing each year. They didn’t have to. There were a limited supply of vendors for each consumer need, and most had their own “turf”. Word of mouth, and new customers walking right into their store to see what was up, took care of all of their marketing for them.
Nowhere is it written that you shouldn’t work on pumping up your word of mouth marketing campaign and referral process just because it’s stepped onto Facebook and Twitter (and the rest of the digital world) instead of hanging out by the street corner. Word of mouth is great! If someone’s willing to stop talking about themselves long enough to start talking about you, you know you’re doing something right.
The question is, how do you get your customers moving in that general direction? Here are 11 tips to help you light a fire under your word of mouth marketing campaign. Just make sure you’re braced for impact!
1) Offer GREAT customer service. No, not good. Anyone can do good. I’m talking about GREAT. Click here to see what I mean.
2) Make your product live up to its reputation.
3) Launch a referral program. Would you recommend a great service to a friend if there was something in it for you? Of course you would! Guess what? So will they.
4) Take the time to spend time with your customers. Once upon a time, the guy at the local grocery store knew you, your kids, your parents, your grandparents, your birthday, your GPA, your arrest record and every third person you hung out with in high school. While you might not have THAT much time on your hands, taking an hour or two a day to talk to the little people will go a long way toward encouraging them to recommend your business.
5) Create a customer community. Whether it’s a Facebook page, an online forum or an open invite to your Saturday night ball game, find a place to bring your customers together.
6) What have you got that the guy next door don’t? Ooops. I got a little carried away. We’ll let the bad grammar slide this time and focus on what matters-communicating your competitive advantage, better known as letting them know why your company rocks!
7) Make sure your website is worth a second look. New business is good, repeat business is better. If you have an awesome website that’s got everyone talking, not only will your current customers keep coming back, they’ll drag their friends along with them!
8) Partner up. Referrals don’t only come from your customers. Go out and find some non-competing businesses to partner up with. They recommend you, you recommend them, and everyone’s happy at the end of the day.
9) How cool is your office? If you’re doing business out on the web you want your website to be as attractive, interesting and unique as possible, right? Why do any less just because your walls are made with brick and mortar instead of ones and zeroes? Make your office appealing, and bring cookies, because…
10) If you feed them, they will come. If you’re running a restaurant, catering business or bakery, you’ve probably already taken care of making sure incoming customers are well fed. But what about an accountant? Or a stockbroker? Do you have a pot of coffee on and a plate of Danish sitting by the wayside? It all goes back to how much value you can give them for their time.
11) Open up the lines of communication. This sort of ties in with the customer community concept, but here we’re talking about a 3 tiered communication model-from you, to them, to their friends. FB statuses are shared. Tweets are retweeted. Emails are forwarded on. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.