Word of mouth is your most valuable marketing tool, which is good news and bad news. The good news is that it works so well because it’s authentic. The bad news is, you can’t fake it.
If you’ve got an email or postal list of people who like your product enough to sign up, you have a massively valuable tool. Encourage people to sign up to your mailing list with an offer, something that will appeal to those genuinely interested in what you have to offer. In other words, don’t offer an M&S voucher or everyone will sign up. If you’re selling theatre, offer a ticket discount voucher or a free programme. Actually most people will sign just to be better informed, so offer a regular newsletter.
So how do you turn your email or mailing list into word-of-mouth? People love to share good things with their friends because it gives them kudos. So, one way is to encourage the email recipient to forward it to a friend.
Your website is another great way to generate word-of-mouth. Give visitors the opportunity to send the page. Encourage comments and conversations on your products or services. Track comments being made elsewhere on the web and join in conversations about your product. However, you must be upfront about who you are – pretending to be a disinterested person can be very damaging, as a top Hollywood production company found out!
Social networks like Twitter and Facebook give yet more opportunities to engage with your best customers and build up loyalty among the people most likely to spread the word by re-tweeting and sharing. Again the rule is, don’t sell- just chat. But never forget this is part of your marketing: many a tweeter has come unstuck by making an unguarded comment.
‘Bring A Friend’, as in letting your loyal customers give discount vouchers to their friends, works well because sending a gift really impresses.