Persuasive, credible and free – no wonder word-of-mouth recommendation has always been considered to be one of the best forms of advertising for your business! When looking to purchase a product or service, we all value a personal recommendation over any other form of marketing message, making word-of-mouth marketing an incredibly effective, yet inexpensive way in which to deliver a positive message.
To an extent this type of advertising will happen naturally providing you are offering a product or level of service of sufficiently good quality for your customers to feel confident enough to put their reputation on the line to recommend you. But how can you make the most of this “natural” advertising and coax more of your customers into talking about and recommending your business?
Answer: A Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Campaign
The best time to start a word-of-mouth marketing campaign is when you have something new to say. It doesn’t have to be something as big as a new product or service, it could be new premises or a new feature being added to an existing product. The important thing is to identify what will be a talking point – something that those people who can influence your potential customer base want to talk about rather than the message that you would most like to convey. First and foremost, word-of- mouth marketing is about getting people talking positively about your business, as long as it’s positive it really doesn’t matter what they are actually saying. Gain an understanding of why people talk positively about your business and then persuade them to talk even more.
Tips for a successful word-of-mouth marketing strategy
Get involved with face to face networking and get talking
When giving out your business card, give two so that one can be passed on.
Use newsletters, blogs and online forums to communicate regularly with potential customers
Launch new products and services with preview days/evenings
Attend events relevant to your industry
Include customer reviews/testimonials on your marketing literature and on your website
Referral schemes – offer a discount or some other incentive to existing customers who introduce your product or service to a family member, friend or colleague
Make the most of social media
This list is not exhaustive, just remember that any opportunity to communicate with people who might talk to potential customers is a chance to generate word-of-mouth recommendation, so use the ideas above or get creative!
From the list above, referral schemes are very popular and many big brands already provide incentives for recommending their products or services to a friend. Next, for example, offers £20 off for you and a friend when you recommend them to Next and they place their first order online. Amongst your customer base, business contacts, family and friends there will be a percentage that fall into the category of the type of person likely to influence others by actively talking about your business and making a recommendation. These are the people that you need to target with a referral marketing campaign. They may not have bought your product or used your service in the past, they may not even use it in the future, but they are talking about it and influencing other people’s thoughts about your business, and these are the tendencies upon which you need to capitalise. Referral Marketing also tracks who is bringing in the new customers so that targeting of these “influencers” can become more and more specific over time.
Social Media – Word-Of-Mouth in the 21st Century
People’s trust in paid advertising has declined significantly in recent years with word of mouth marketing via social networks now being the most trusted form of advertising. It comes as no surprise that Millennials rank word-of-mouth as their number 1 influencer when making purchasing decisions about the majority of their goods and services. Thanks to Facebook and other social networking sites, their social networks are infinitely superior for word-of-mouth marketing to any social network of earlier generations. Social media enables us to share our thoughts and opinions online, opening up a fantastic opportunity for businesses to promote themselves to a potentially huge audience for free.
There is no guarantee that your business’s word-of-mouth marketing posts will go “viral”, but by having a page for your business on social networking sites and marketing your posts correctly to your existing customers and followers, fans will share it with their friends who may also then engage with you and share your post with their followers.
Ensuring your campaigns are cost-effective
It is easy to understand the hype around word-of-mouth marketing and referral schemes, but the challenge to business owners is to develop a word-of-mouth marketing strategy that works for their business and customers. Although “natural” word of mouth marketing is free, developing this type of advertising will incur an element of cost and therefore to ensure that your campaigns are cost-effective you will need to measure their success and make changes to those that fall short.
For example, in the case of a referral scheme with an incentive offer, the ‘influencer’ will identify themselves alongside the new customer and email newsletters will enable you to track recommendations through a ‘Send to a friend’ option.
Don’t forget, you should always ask new customers how they heard about you. This is an easy way to monitor which method is yielding the most success for your business.
As good as it is, word-of-mouth of marketing should not be exclusive in your marketing strategy
There’s no doubt that word-of-mouth marketing and referral schemes are cost-effective and influential and should form a significant part of any marketing strategy. However, it should not be relied upon either, it is still vitally important to ensure that your brand is represented across multiple marketing channels. Engaging with your customers in multiple ways increases the chances of them interacting with you and then spreading a positive word.
We hope you have found this article interesting and informative. If you have any questions or would like to discuss word-of-mouth and referral marketing as strategies for your small business further, please call Trinity on 0800 954 2099 for a Free Consultation or complete our online form.