How would you and your business like some free marketing? If this economy has you in a cost cutting frame of mind, you have something in common with the rest of us small business owners. You’re probably mulling over the dilemma of how to get more advertising, for less money, and still grow your customer base. Word of mouth marketing is the answer we are looking for!

What is word of mouth marketing?

Simply put word of mouth marketing (or WOMM as it is sometimes called) is information about your product, service, or brand that is disseminated through individual, personal, recommendations. Typically word of mouth spreads informally from one person to another without advertisers having a controlling role in the message that is being spread. The individuals will decide what story they tell about the product or service, who they tell, and what kind of recommendation they give.

If you think about word of mouth marketing and the spread of information, I think you will find it is the most fluid of any kind of marketing we can do. It happens constantly, 24 hours a day seven days a week. People are always talking about products and services, and imparting their unbiased opinions on anyone and everyone who will listen. I for one do it all the time, if I’ve had great service, I talk about it. If a new shirt is fitting me really well, I’m not afraid to tell a buddy how much I like my shirt. The natural nature of this kind of interaction is what makes word of mouth marketing so powerful. Word of mouth marking is the most powerful way to gain new customers due to its delivery method through trusted social networks

The inherent trust that comes along with word of mouth marketing can make your product or service very sticky for those that hear about you. They will already feel like they know you, and will be more willing to work with you and buy from you, than someone without that connection. It stands to reason too, would you rather take the advertisers word on how great their product is or your best friend? I for one am more apt to buy a new pair of Nikes because of a friend or relatives glowing review of the shoe than I am for Nike telling me to “Just Do It!”. The bond of a trusted relationship is what keeps word of mouth marketing working so well. It not the kind of thing you can easily track in a spreadsheet, and you’re likely to make errors if you do, so think of it as an added bonus to the service you already bring, with some minor tweaks.

So how can you and your business begin to build a word of mouth campaign? It’s easier than you may think, and the below tips should get you on the way to getting the buzz going about your business.

The Do’s

  1. Provide a top notch service or product

This one should go without saying. Be good, be really good and people are bound to talk about you. Think about how many times you passed on a story to a friend about a great product or stellar service you had. You want those same kind of conversations happening about your business.

  1. Ask for customer feedback and engage them

The more the customer feels they have a say in your business the more trust you will gain with them, and the more likely they are to talk you up with their friends. When they feel like they have a vested interest in you and your company it stands to reason they would want you to succeed by sending business your way. Also don’t be afraid to ask your customer to spread the word. There is nothing wrong with saying “If you like what I’m doing, tell your friends about me”, or give them an incentive for sending you a referral. Just be sure not to come off as pushy, make sure it’s genuine.

  1. Tell a compelling story about your product or service

What’s your story? Do your customers know it? Well they should. If there is something that makes a particular product or service of yours interesting make sure your customers know it. Stories will spread much faster than technical specifications, or mission statements. Stories in and of themselves lend well to word of mouth, they’re easy to repeat and who doesn’t like a good story.

  1. Utilize all of your networks

You want to tell your story and build trust with all your networks. This includes the physical and virtual networks you have built and continue to build. There is limitless possibility in the depth and reach of your network, and with the expansion of the Internet those opportunities are growing at a mind boggling pace.

  1. Get your product in your customers hands

The only way word of mouth is going to spread is if people are using your product or service. Do whatever it takes to get it in their hands. Give it away for free, leverage networks, and use any other avenue available to you to get it in their hands.

The Don’t’s

  1. Pump without purpose

Be careful how you pump your product. Come off as pushy, or not creating any value and you are sunk. You’ll get word of mouth marketing, but it may not be of the positive kind. Don’t just spam Twitter with “Hey use my product”…tell me why I should, or tell the story. Let me get interested, without being told I should be interested.

  1. Expect more from your customers than they can provide

Word of mouth is great, but it has to happen naturally. Don’t expect your customers to do the heavy lifting for you if you are taking shortcuts on your end. Provide a great product and service and let your customers decide if they are going to market for you, do expect them to.

  1. Assume word of mouth marketing will happen overnight

Word of mouth works a lot like building the base of a snowman. You start slow, rolling a little piece of snow around the yard, and you feel like you’re getting nowhere. But you keep on rolling and before you know it you’ve got a huge mound of snow so big you can’t push it anymore. Word of mouth happens a lot like that, don’t expect overnight success, slow and steady wins this race.

Word of mouth marketing should be a major component in your marketing campaign. You cannot underestimate the importance of this kind of advertising as it will lead to more customers, more sales, and more repeat business with very little cost to your company.
How would you and your business like some free marketing? If this economy has you in a cost cutting frame of mind, you have something in common with the rest of us small business owners. You’re probably mulling over the dilemma of how to get more advertising, for less...