According to WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) a whopping 92% percent of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising. And, when asked what sources “influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product,” 72% claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence.

Sure. Okay. But you can’t control what people tell their friends and family about your product or service, right? Wrong. Customer service and advertising are actually the two most powerful drivers of word-of-mouth marketing.

Satisfy their Customer Service Needs First

There’s nothing like exemplary customer service to get people talking about your business. But don’t make the mistake of believing you only need to be better than your direct competitors. Your customers and prospective clients are actually judging you on how well your service stacks up against UPS, Wal Mart, Amazon, and all the other service providers they use. They don’t differentiate, and neither should you: Study how companies in other industries handle things, and incorporate their best ideas into your own service offerings.

Focus on the Influencers

While many people may be willing to spread the good word about your business, it’s the popular, outgoing people who will have the greatest effect (marketing experts call these people “influencers”). Those are the ones you’ll want to focus your word-of-mouth marketing efforts on.

Make a list of the most influential people you know, then start reaching out to them on a regular basis. Treat them to coffee and lunches. Send holiday cards. Keep any talk about your business to a minimum, but do let these people know that even a mention of your products/services to friends and family would be much appreciated.

Make the Most of Traditional Marketing

Any traditional marketing aimed at encouraging word-of-mouth should be short and sweet. Postcards and emails work best. Be humble and direct; something like, “If you’ve been satisfied with the products and services you’ve received from us, we’d welcome the opportunity to serve your friends and family as well.”

In addition to building word-of-mouth buzz; these efforts will also go a long way towards generating a groundswell of goodwill, which is something that can benefit any business.

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