Some sources state that as much as a staggering 85% of business comes through word of mouth!
It is an effective, not to mention cheap, form of marketing that is truly priceless – the power of a personal recommendation is far more valuable and credible than any paid form of media will ever be.
Many larger businesses have tried and failed to force word of mouth using try hard mass media campaigns. It almost seems like something that can only come naturally without trying. But the fact is, you do need to try and there are effective ways of improving the spread of your word of mouth.
How to Grow Word of Mouth Marketing Step 1: Ask for it!
“Ask and you shall receive” is definitely still true today. Your current colleagues and contacts are already so caught up in their own agenda that, even if they absolutely love your product or service, they probably just forget to mention you. Simply asking lets them know it is important to you and infers that you would do the same for them (but make sure you actually back that up!). If you don’t feel comfortable sending out a mass email with this request, bring it up casually in your next meeting or phone call as a ‘by the way’ mention. And in the age of social media, the options go beyond face to face referral to asking users to post a photo of the product in use on Instagram, to check in to your location on Facebook, to tweet a short recommendation or even to share a solution with a professional looking for options on LinkedIn.
A good alternative to bringing referrals to a head is by running a special event where your contacts can bring a friend. Whether it is a free week in a gym, an open day or a lunch, you can almost guarantee that everyone brought forward using this method will be a solid prospect, after all – would your current contacts risk the embarrassment of bringing a friend or colleague somewhere they will have a terrible experience?
How to Grow Word of Mouth Marketing Step 2: Reward Your Referrers
When you’ve done all the asking you can without sounding like you’re begging, you can expect some referrals to come through, so then it’s time to move on to step 2. A reward can be anything you would like it to – a gift arriving unexpectedly, a % off voucher for the referrer or for them to give to a friend, taking them out for a meal, a rebate, or simply a thank you card. Whether you choose to make it known that you will offer rewards or not depends entirely on your business situation and how appropriate it is to offer such incentives in your industry. It may feel a bit cheap and nasty to you and you may believe that you will only get referrals because people want the reward, netting you more disingenuous referrals instead of genuine prospects.
How to Grow Word of Mouth Marketing Step 3: Work It
So now that you have all these referrals coming through, you’ve got to prove you deserved it in the first place. There’s no point having someone else tell your client or consumer that you are awesome if you failed to deliver. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you choose to look at it, the original referrer has built up your business to high expectations, and the standard has been set much higher than if they came to you without a referral. It’s like that restaurant that has all the rave reviews on Urbanspoon but feels very ordinary in comparison when you finally go for a meal. Sadly for them you’ve built them up on to a pedestal and they were perhaps having a bad day, but you only get one chance to make a first impression.
So you not only have to ensure you do everything you would normally do just as well when it comes to referrals, you probably have to go one step better so there is an element of the unexpected surprise that will wow them.
How to Grow Word of Mouth Marketing Step 4: Don’t Fake It
There have been many instances whereby businesses have been caught red handed for creating or paying for fake endorsements on Google, Twitter and other review websites in an attempt to spread positive word of mouth. Whether it is someone within the business or someone external who has been paid to give a fake review, this is a huge no-no that could see all your business destroyed in one fell swoop. In fact the ACCC could even become involved, in which case you may need to pay hefty penalties of up to $1.1 million.
If you would like to generate reviews from bloggers or consumers, you can give them free product or even pay them to post their reviews, however it must be clearly disclosed in the review that there is a commercial relationship in place so that readers can make an informed assessment as to the genuine truth of the comments.
How to Grow Word of Mouth Marketing Step 5: Work the Room
Once you’ve exhausted all the avenues available through your current contacts, it’s time to widen the pool. The easiest, fastest way to get in front of a group of new referrals and prospects? Why, that would be networking! Once a group gets to know you over a series of encounters (one event just won’t cut it) the group will grow to like and trust you, and that’s when the referrals will start.
But if the thought of walking into a room full of strangers to talk about yourself fills you with dread, you’re not alone. Many people shy away from networking because of one bad experience or even a perception of what it will be – “they won’t like me – I’ll make a bad impression”, “I’ll choke” and “I can’t sell myself – I’ll just look ‘pushy’” are all common statements we’ve heard.
We get it – it’s hard to start networking! Which is why we’ve developed a networking training session to arm you with everything you need to know to take that first step. Experienced networker and trainer Liz Small will guide you through networking 101, including how to engage and make an impact, your ‘elevator pitch’, understanding the networking cycle, planning your networking strategy and more. You will come out with a newfound confidence, ready to jump into your first positive networking experience. And if you’d like a helping hand, Jim Schaefer is always happy to accompany you to your first networking event to show you the ropes and make introductions for you.
If you’d like more information or to book your networking training session, download our flyer or call 1300 855 410.