Successful Word-of-Mouth Marketing
In my last Marketing Tip, I talked about the myth of word-of-mouth marketing. We looked at the dangers of wishing and hoping that our business will grow as we wait for customers to spread the word. However, word-of-mouth marketing (or referral marketing) can be plucked from the depths of legend and planted firmly in the realm of reality. With a little bit of work and planning, we can create extremely successful word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.
The difference between myth and reality is found in the details. Seriously! Reality-focused, successful word-of-mouth marketing actually replaces the wishing and hoping parts with details and purposeful actions that put us in the driver’s seat.
Create a Successful Word-of-Mouth Plan
The first step in successful word-of-mouth marketing is to create a plan. Start by defining ways that you are going to wow and impress your customers. The customer experience needs to include everything from an amazing product to professional graphic and website design, to exceptional customer service and everything in between. If you want your customers to be excited about you, then you have to look, be, and act exciting.
The second step of planning for a successful word-of-mouth marketing campaign is to figure out how to build a strong relationship with our customers. For example, how are we going to utilize tools such as social media and email to connect with customers? If we want customers to trust us enough to give a recommendation, then we need to stay in contact with them in meaningful ways. Having ways to stay in touch and communicate with our customers is important no matter what, but it is vital for referral marketing.
Ask for the Referral
The third step in running a successful word-of-mouth marketing campaign is to understand that we actually have to ask for a referral. We have to invite our customers to be a part of our business. They need to know just how much we appreciate referrals. As a side note, don’t beg or look desperate. Stay away from making it look like referrals are your only chance at growth, not yet staying afloat.
There are multiple ways to ask a customer for a referral. You could offer a discount on future purchases for verified referrals and announce the program through email and social media. You could send a thank you email after a purchase that includes encouraging the customer to spread the word. Another idea is to offer a drawing for a gift card or free service. Customers are entered to win by sharing testimonials or promoting your business on social media. You could create an affiliate program where people get a small commission or reward points for bringing in new business. The options are endless and creativity will really help create a better word-of-mouth campaign.
There are also tons of technologies that can help. The point is that you have to take an active approach to encourage your customers to engage and participate. Sure, you may get a few organic referrals to trickle in if you do nothing at all, but that takes us back into the realm of wishing and hoping. We can and should do more than wish and hope when it comes to building a successful business.
Online Reviews vs. Referrals
In my next marketing tip, we will look at the difference between online reviews and direct referrals. In today’s world, reviews can be just as, if not more, important than direct referrals for long-term success. The same principles apply to reviews. We have to create a plan and actively encourage customers to participate. Read my tip about online reviews.