What if I told you there was a form of advertising that was extremely powerful and persuasive, while also being (mostly) free? Would you be on board to try that!? Try converting a curious onlooker into a customer in no time flat, while not even saying a word.
This is the power of word-of-mouth marketing, where someone else – a superfan of your business – does the work of marketing or promotion for you. You wow them with your product and/or service and they share the good word of your work with their community – not because you paid them but because they LOVE what you do, they BELIEVE in what you are about and they see immense VALUE in what you can offer them and their friends. They don’t see this as doing you a favour, but as providing a service to their family and friends who will benefit from what you are providing.
If you’ve ever eaten at a delicious restaurant, and raved about it to your best friend. If you have ever found a really good deal on shoes, and told your mother, you’ve participated in word-of-mouth marketing.
Now that you are a believer in the value of word-of-mouth marketing, here comes the hard part. How to make this happen for your business. Well the truth is, you don’t “make” it happen at all. You do what you can to create an environment for positive review, and then you let what should happen, happen. That is, you don’t focus on generating word-of-mouth marketing but instead on providing the best, most innovative solutions to your customer’s problems. If you get some good buzz as a result, while that’s the gravy on the fries and cheese curds.
Here’s how you can do great work, in order to see if maybe, just maybe, people want to spread the good word:
Give your customers what they want. Listen and respond.
You really only have a business when you have a customer or client. Define what you provide to your community in order to attract the people who are the best fit for your product or service. When you have those people engaged with you, listen to what it is they are looking for and how you can best help them. Having the ability to listen and adapt in response to the needs of the market will create a formula for more lasting success. Create channels for listening to your customers – on social media, through post-service surveys, through formal or informal interviews or focus groups and by monitoring what they purchase, how they purchase and what they read on your website. You should always be in listening mode.
Set realistic expectations for your product and service.
Don’t promise people the world. You really can’t deliver on a solution to every single one of the world’s problems. And if your business process means you deliver the goods or service in 2 weeks, don’t say it will be there tomorrow. People are actually quite reasonable when the boundaries are established early on. But promise and not deliver? You are just setting yourself up for some negative vibes.
So be true in how you describe your product or service. It should answer to one specific need, and really really well. It doesn’t have to change their whole life.
Invest in customer service.
We may all intuitively know that investing in the points of contact with your customer is smart, it is still true that good customer service today is hard to find.
People connect with people, not with companies. If you are not the only person in your company interacting with your customers, then be aware that your customers will come to like, love or hate you based on their relationship with your front line. Positive word-of-mouth usually happens when someone has an exceptional experience with a brand. Often this comes down to a point of service. Create those feel-good experiences for your customers. Go above and beyond in servicing them, or find thoughtful ways to be mindful of their needs. Be prompt in responding to their feedback and solve their problems in the best way that you can.
Hire people who are invested in carrying forward your core values. Hire within your core values; your employees should be natural members of your tribe because they share your vision.
Take time to map out your customer’s journey, including every point of contact they have with you. Invest time in making sure that each point of contact is a positive one, no matter the circumstances. Having a customer map is planning well-spent.
And above all else, be human. When you do make a mistake and a client or customer is less than satisfied, be human in your response. Apologize for not meeting the mark, and ask what you can do to rectify the situation. Be genuine in how you present your brand to the world, always mindful of your core values and your why. The more hyper-focused you are in living by what you are all about, the more people will come to notice your good work. And that’s the key really. Focus on being the best business you can be, and people will start to notice. Let them.
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