Word of Mouth Marketing Tips
(stimulating WOM marketing)

word of mouth - friends telling friends
Photo credit: Lusi

Ask any budget-hindered small business owner what behavior they would most love to see in their customer base, and they'll reply enthusiastically, "customers sending more referrals". Long ago, business owners and marketers realized that with some planning and a lot of elbow grease, they could stimulate an on-going flow of customer-generated business. The field of marketing that developed around that idea is known as "word of mouth" marketing; a subset of referral marketing.

The foundation of great word of mouth marketing rests on just a few principles, listed here in the form of the following tips:

10 Word of Mouth Marketing Tips To Consider

  • What a disinterested 3rd party says about you is much more credible than what you say about yourself (your business).
  • It's quite difficult to breathlessly & effusively praise oneself without becoming repellent, nay repugnant, to others (Don't ask me how I know this).
  • Little things matter. For Disney, it's cleanliness & authenticity (yes, of its "artificial environment" I know), at Southwest it's customer-friendliness and fast transfers, and for Zappos, it's extreme customer responsiveness. For most service businesses, it will be unusual displays of pre-emptive thoughtfulness & gratitude in marketing, sales & customer service processes.
  • Word travels faster within affinity networks, than across them.
  • Word of mouth marketing from your current client base should be rewarded with communications and acts of gratitude every single time you can identify the referrer.
  • Facilitated or incentivized "word of mouth" marketing (aka Referral marketing), and "artificial/canned" word of mouth campaigns should be ongoing components of every strategic marketing system. The difference between word of mouth marketing and referral marketing is that "word of mouth" is passive, while "referral marketing" involves active intervention by you or your team.
  • Incorporating referral marketing techniques into customer communications is a great way to stimulate "word of mouth" in the short-term, and nurture such customer habits for long-run success.
  • Media & publicity campaigns also play a catalytic role for stimulating word of mouth, or fanning the flames of current viral campaigns. Digital & social media tactics can also generate online recommendations (so-called "word of mouse") for your products or services. Become "the chosen one" of authoritative 3rd parties, and you'll reap the rewards.
  • Momentum generated by media, P.R., and social media will often be short-lived. It will be up to you or your team to integrate backend marketing systems to turn "publicity-generated" visitors and attention into subscribers/leads, prospects and referrers – who have more lasting value to your business.
  • Don't under-estimate the power of a unique business model / service model in generating great word of mouth momentum for your services.

Customer Service, Calling Cards & Referrals

I’d like to illustrate the power of the points above with a personal perspective on the customer experience and some of the ways smart companies are stimulating extraordinary customer enthusiasm for sharing their products with others.

For years, I depended on a litany of calling cards for connecting with relatives and friends in my native Nigeria. Like many immigrant communities, Nigerians in the U.S. long ago abandoned the thought of making their international calls from home or bymobile phone; far too expensive to be practical for most calls. Instead, we depend on calling cards, easily obtained from most gas stations or grocery stores.

Solving Headaches, Sharing Delights (A WOM story)

Unfortunately, calling cards presented many of their own headaches as well.

Actually, for me, calling cards were a royal pain.

First, you had to deal with a long chain of automated voice prompts just to get to the point where you could now dial the number. Of course, every international call involves a long string of digits.

Get any of these wrong, or miss a step in the sequence of voice prompts, and you have to go all…the…way…back...to…the…beginning… and press 1.

Often, you’d have to re-dial an enormous string of digits because – if you were like me – you got distracted and placed one digit out of sequence or missed one completely. And if it REALLY wasn’t your day, you’d finally be put through, only to get a brief ringing, a faint pick up at the other end, and then … dead air!

After a few desperate yelps of "Hello?!!", "Hello?!!!", you’d have to give up, start the whole horrid process over again, only to find that your previous misadventure just cost you a significant amount of the money left on your card. (The video below only illustrates a mere fraction of the frustration).

Like I said, a pain!

Thankfully, I no longer use calling cards (or I should say "regular" calling cards). I now use Rebtel.

A Unique Selling Proposition Stimulates WOM

One of my tips above is about how a unique service model (see "unique selling proposition") can stimulate increased customer referrals just by itself. Rebtel has an online calling card model that - for me at least - is worthy of sharing.

It allows me to load my Nigerian contacts, assign local U.S. numbers to them, and pre-pay at competitive rates for a very convenient no-brainer solution. It’s the number one recommendation I make when the subject of making calls to Nigeria comes up.

Customer Incentives Work, But Only Under The Right Conditions

I can’t recall who first told me about Rebtel because my brother, my cousin, and my uncle, all recommended them to me at one point or another. My experience here reflects the power of incentivizing customers to refer more. Rebtel offers registered customers/subscribers an incentive to refer others to the service.

At least one of the relatives I mentioned above recommended this online calling card by sending me an affiliate-coded link. That’s 1 out of 3 recommendations being directly influenced by the provided incentive. Think about how you can apply these word of mouth marketing tips & principles to promote your business or product.

Do you need to brainstorm word of mouth marketing strategies?

Our Word of Mouth Marketing Experts can help.


Gogo Erekosima strategic marketing consultantGogo Erekosima, is the Lead strategist at Idea Age Consulting - a management consulting firm that helps solo, small and mid-sized businesses nationwide to grow using assets already hidden within the business itself.

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