6 Ways to Encourage Positive Word-of-Mouth About Your Business
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Think about your last purchase from a new company or brand. You may not have realized it, but your purchase was probably influenced by someone else’s opinion.
In the marketing world, this is called word-of-mouth. You may have been primed to buy a trendy new pair of running shoes because your sister was raving about them. Or you may have decided to try out your neighbor’s lawn guy because he told you how satisfied he was with their work. Of course, it’s possible the opinion that encouraged you to press “Add to Cart” may not have been from anyone you know, but instead was from a 5-star review underneath the new dog toy you bought for Fido.
Word-of-mouth marketing works because people trust other people. According to a Nielsen report, a whopping 92% percent of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising. It’s clear that word of mouth is the “most powerful factor when it comes to consumers’ relationships with brands.”
So how do you make this quirk of human psychology work for you as a business owner? You have a product or service to sell, and you want satisfied customers to refer others to your business.
The secret is this: customer service and positive experiences with your brand are the most powerful drivers of word-of-mouth marketing.
Here are six ways to make sure you’re the talk of the town (in a good way)!
1. Make Customer Service a Top Priority
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 all the other service providers they use. They don’t differentiate, and neither should you: Study how companies that excel in customer service handle things and incorporate their best ideas into your own service offerings. Take every opportunity to go above and beyond for your clients, and they’ll share their experience.
2. Focus on Community Influencers
While many people may be willing to spread a good word about your business, it’s the movers and shakers in your community who will be the best at getting the word out. These are the people you’ll want to focus your word-of-mouth marketing efforts on.
To find the influencers in your community, go grassroots. Make a list of prominent people you know from the local Chamber of Commerce, business networking groups, and your own circles. Start networking with these people and say how pleased you would be to help them the next time they need your product or service. Treat them to coffee, hand them your business card, and ask them to help you get the word out about your business. If they have a local following on social media and they’re willing to share about your business, all the better.
All of these rules apply to your satisfied customers as well. If you do a great job for a customer, it’s likely they’ll be happy to share it with their friends, family, and social media contacts.
3. Make an Impression in Your Community
Remember those community influencers we were just talking about? You can become one! Build your personal brand by making a difference in your community. Join local groups for business leaders, support events at local schools and community centers, and sponsor charitable events.
Sponsoring a charitable event is a great way to support local non-profits while winning the confidence and continued patronage of customers and prospects. To start brainstorming what charity you’ll sponsor, visit Charity Navigator, an organization that analyzes and evaluates over 5,500 U.S. charities, to find one that you and your company resonates with.
4. Start a Referral Program
It never hurts to incentivize people to leave a review. You can do this with a referral program, contest, special offer, or loyalty program. Consider offering anyone who sends a potential customer your way a $20 gift card, tickets to the movies, or some other generous thank you. Or consider creating a simple drawing. For every referral provided, the provider gets entered in the drawing for one big ticket item. Or provide a link to a promo code and reward the person who shares the code with the largest number of people on social media.
Special offers and gifts seem far more special when you tell the recipient it’s a reward for their loyalty. They’ll remember that you gave it to them as a thank-you – and they’ll be far more likely to continue supporting your business.
5. Check-in with Your Network Regularly
When you check-in with your client base on a regular basis, it lets them know they’re important to you. Every six months or so, consider sending an email or mailer reminding them of your services and that you’re willing to help them at any time.
Be consistent! Repetition builds familiarity, and familiarity builds trust. That means, the more your client base hears from you, the more comfortable they’ll become with your brand. And the more comfortable they become with your company, the more loyal they’ll be over the long-term.
Worried about over saturating your customers with marketing? Stick to non-invasive, non-intrusive marketing channels for your check-ins. Direct mail is considered by consumers to be a less intrusive form of marketing since it’s received less often than email.
6. Provide Something of Value
Another way to reach out to your customers without burning them out on your marketing is to provide them with valuable information. Providing expertise helps create positive associations with your brand.
- Articles: Spend a few minutes every week looking at websites, trade magazines, and periodicals for any articles related to your industry you can share on social media. Think The Wall St. Journal, Fortune, Better Homes and Gardens, or Consumer Reports. Share your thoughts along with the article, which helps educate your readers and promotes your expertise.
- Reminders: Everyone has trouble remembering things – like when Daylight Savings Time starts and stops, how often the batteries in smoke detectors need to be replaced, and the upcoming deadline for money-saving programs (such as home energy-efficiency tax credits). Send them postcard mailers with these helpful reminders.
- Tips: Consider starting a scheduled campaign where you send contacts a newsletter every month. These could include home-maintenance tips, career advice, notices about upcoming shows/events, advice for maintaining healthy habits, or anything else you think might be helpful.
Encouraging word-of-mouth marketing around your business is all about creating opportunities for good impressions. If you lead with stellar customer service and create noteworthy experiences for your clients, then you’re most of the way there. For more on this subject, check out 10 Five-Star Tips to Get More Real Estate Referrals.