7 strategies for getting word of mouth advertising from customers

A good word from customers to their friends and family is worth its weight in gold for you, the marketer.

It’s the most effective form of marketing in terms of ROI and also the most sustainable.

If your marketing tools are weapons, word of mouth  marketing is a light saber-

Capable of cutting through steel doors like hot knife through butter.

Because it’s so powerful, it’s also incredibly difficult to get it right. You can’t buy buzz.

But if your strategy is right, your brand can become the next word of mouth marketing superstar. It also won’t hurt that your sales and profits would skyrocket.

Get these 7 things right.

1. Deliver what you promised. Actually, overdeliver

You can have the best marketing brains on call and a even finely tuned plan, but all that counts for nothing if you don’t live up to your end of the deal with customers. When you take money from them to provide them a product or a service, you better live up to your word.

Actually, do more than that. Overdeliver. If you are an online retailer who has a 3-4 business day shipping policy, try to cut that down to 2 and watch the delighted tweets come flowing in!

2. Stand up for your brand

As you grow you will hit several points where you will have the choice of diluting your brand values to get a larger share of the market or taking a stand and making it clear that you are not for everyone.  In today’s business environment there is a strong case for becoming a big fish in a small pond.

Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin based theater chain ejected a woman from one of their shows when she  broke rules by texting during the movie.

They wrote a blog post about it and also posted an unedited YouTube video of her pissed off call which had gone to voicemail. That video got more than 2 million views, and the post got more than 2500 comments, mostly supportive.

If you had a choice and wanted to go see a movie without being forced to listen to somebody yakking on their phone, you would now know which theater to pick.

3. Ask for a shout-out, and give thanks to fans

In most cases, people won’t spontaneously spread the word for you. If you are a new player and even if your service is up to snuff, you won’t exactly have folks singing hosannas on your behalf. You have to remind them to do that.

And when they are done spreading the news, thank your fans with something useful. For example, Dropbox, the data syncing service offers users free space if other people sign up based on the user’s referrals. This word of mouth strategy made them the world’s 6th most valuable startup in 2011.

4. Do something unexpected

Who wants to talk about you when there is nothing that distinguishes you from the competition? Do something unexpected to get people chatting.

A small and relatively unknown mobile apps company did the unexpected by stamping a thousand $1 bills and having their employees scatter them in the middle of a speech at an industry conference. This stunt got them tons of publicity, both online and offline and helped them stand out from the crowd.

While I am not suggesting that you deface legal tender (and possibly go to jail) there are a lot of ways to snap people out of their stupor. Keep your brand values in context while doing this, and you’ll be fine.

5. Promote your customers over yourself

Ramon De Leon is in charge of marketing for 7 Domino’s Pizza stores in the Chicago area. Known as the Pizza Guy, he has made it his life’s mission to establish one to one relationship with customers, and make new customers whenever he can, by interacting with them on social media.

He extensively uses Twitter ,video and photos to reach out to customers  He encourages them to share good experiences. And when something goes wrong, he  goes beyond what is expected of him- instantly taping a video apology from London or offering 350 free pizzas to a customer whose pizza order was mixed up and arrived late.

Because of De Leon customers think of Domino’s when they think of pizza and feel guilty if they think of any other chain, thanks to his outreach.

6. Measure what’s relevant to your values

Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without measurement. As a company, the metrics you need to measure to determine whether you are on the right track might not be what the rest of the industry measures.

Let’s say you are dedicated to achieving maximum customer satisfaction, and you are operating a call center. In that case you can’t measure how efficient you are by comparing your call time rates with others, which are always a race to the bottom.

You want to be able to measure something else, something like first contact resolution rate or a customer satisfaction score. Keep both high and you have done your job.

7. Take care of offline word of mouth

Regardless of how good social media and the Internet has become at amplifying your message, word of mouth is the most effective when it’s spread person to person in the real world.

I am not making this stuff up:  studies show that 85% of teens and 93% of the general public place more emphasis on offline word of mouth.

Even if your service is online, don’t neglect the offline component. Even sponsoring something as simple as Tweetups for your users can yield rich dividends.

Conclusion

These are the basics behind getting a conversation started around how good you are among customers. What did I miss?

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Market Research Web Editor at LiveHelpNow and Azzur Group, LLC Contributing Writer at Greatist Editorial Assistant at The Pennsylvania Gazette Reporter at Penn Law Editorial Intern at Philadelphia Magazine University of Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences King's College London, U. of London Connect with me on +Katie Siegel
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