No matter how many catchy or well-written ads you throw at consumers, a good recommendation from a friend or trusted figure will almost always be valued more by individuals. Word-of-Mouth marketing is probably the most effective way to spread the word about your business, simply because other forms of advertising are paid, and might not always be as truthful or trustworthy as we might think. A person recommending or discouraging a friend from buying a product, and who has not been paid, is therefore considered a way more reliable source, because they are giving a genuine review or opinion based on a real-life experience.
Word-of-mouth marketing is complex and hard to master, but there are a few things that need to be known when launching your next campaign.
First, as Worth of Mouth Marketing Association president, Suzanne Fanning, recently told Forbes:
[Companies] need to focus on “connecting” instead of “collecting.” Brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who liked your Facebook page to win a free iPad from you.
Lay’s did this exceptionally well by hosting the “Do Us a Flavour” contest, offering a $1 million prize for the winner of the best new chips flavour. Not only did it get people involved by consumers submitting flavours, but also involved everyone else through the voting process in selecting the winner.
Second, remember to target influencers. Be intentional about who the message goes out to and speak to the leaders in your industry. These can include journalists, public figures, bloggers, or even trendsetting fans. This is easier than ever with the internet in social media because everyone has a voice and a chance to share their opinions, experiences, and thoughts. At the same time, be mindful of who those influencers are and what audience they affect. Make a list of people your company would like to reach out to and what group of people they have influence over.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, give people something to talk about! The best way to do this is put time and care into making your customer service the best it can possibly be. At the same time, do something that blows people away or do the unexpected; go the extra mile. People like talking about things that are noteworthy and interesting, and it offers a certain social currency to their social network. WestJet perfectly exhibited this concept by making a Christmas video, in which they granted their customers’ Christmas wishes at the arrival of their destination. People began talking about it because it was interesting and stirred emotion in viewers. If you make an experience at your business noteworthy, your customers will do the advertising for you – free of charge!