A while back I asked the folks on Twitter to submit their biggest marketing problems. One tweeter wrote, “How do you convince the C-suite that word of mouth works, i.e. spending $ on customer gifts & special attention.” Well, getting support from the top is a problem most marketers can relate to, particularly if you work in old guard companies that haven’t seized new methods and ideas. What do you do?
The reality is that word-of-mouth marketing happens whether your boss believes in it or not. In fact, people will talk about your brand–good or bad. That’s the way it’s always been and the way it always will be. Why? Because we are human and with that comes all our human tendencies to want to communicate. So let’s agree that word-of-mouth marketing is happening regardless of whether we believe in it or not. Doesn’t it make sense then to add strategies to guide what people are saying into your marketing plan? Of course it does.
So what kinds of word-of-mouth tactics work? Here’s my list. Feel free to comment and add your own tried and true methods. Just remember, the tactics must be Genuine, Meaningful and Different. No gimmicks that are “off brand,” please, for the sake of earning chatter
Word-of-mouth tactics that work
Build your business on extraordinary service – I just experienced this today. I bought my husband a Sekonda Expose watch while in England a month ago. For some strange reason, it stopped working. I contacted Sekonda and they are sending a replacement from the UK (with their sincere apologies) at no cost to me. That’s extraordinary service.
Align with a cause – I was at an event recently and the speaker was talking about the power of relationships in building business. He asked, how many of us had seen a Geico TV commercial. All 400 of us raised our hands. He asked, how many of us have Geico insurance. About eight people raised their hands. Not good. Then he asked how many of us ever heard of Girl Scout Cookies. We all raised our hands. (You know where I’m going…) When he asked how many of us buy Girl Scout Cookies, nearly every hand in the room was up. Case closed.
Make people laugh – My only answer to this is…”Hello, ladies. I’m the man your man could smell like.” Of course I’m talking about the Old Spice campaign that has created more word-of-mouth buzz than just about any other in recent years. And did you hear, sales of Old Spice have doubled since the spots hit YouTube.
Create unforgettable “moments” – If making people laugh isn’t part of your brand story, then make them talk about you through “moments.” It’s easier than you think. If you first understand that “moments” are the language of the heart and that we buy with our emotions, then you’ll see the connection. Even if you have no budget for this, you can create a “moment” by doing one simple no-cost thing: making everyone you meet know they are special in your eyes. We all want that in life, and it happens so seldom.
Find the hubs – It’s not that everyone doesn’t do some talking about their likes and dislikes with a product or service, it’s just that some do more talking and are more influential than others. Your job is to seek out the ones who not only talk more, but who have more connections. You’re also looking for people who bind different groups–connectors you might call them. These are influencers who can leap frog your brand exponentially overnight. Who’s the grand dame of all hubs? Oprah of course. But if you can’t get on Oprah, look a little closer to home, every town has influencers with lots of connections and lots to say.
Of course whatever you do, understand that word-of-mouth can take some time to build. And like any marketing you do, you must sustain it. Too often people quit before they get any momentum. Recognize that we are trying to move people to action. And oh, are we stubborn! We don’t like change and we are slow to act without a tantalizing call to action. That leads to my final comment. There are no silver bullets. Word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing money can’t buy, but it is even more effective when integrated with solid PR, online, advertising–a fully branded campaign that includes all the tactics that make you look formidable, credible, and trustworthy. So go for it buzz-builders! Do what it takes to get some quick results and measure, measure, measure! That should keep the naysayers in the C-suite quiet until at least the next board meeting…short memories!
What is branding? Heart & Mind® Branding.