Most companies depend on referrals to help grow business; we all want to be on the receiving end of positive buzz and great word-of-mouth advertising. A recent study of consumer behavior says that Word-of-Mouth (WOM) influences purchasing behavior more than any form of advertising. As consumers, each of us has been both the influencer and the one being influenced by a recommendation, referral or warning about a product or service. As a business owner you can wait and hope that satisfied customers will spread the word or you can encourage WOM by incorporating a few well-chosen tactics.
Loyalty Programs We all use them. Right now I receive a discount on gasoline from the grocery store where I shop, I have 3 loyalty cards from retailers that send gift certificates as user rewards, and cards from two coffee shops that offer “free" drinks after I buy way too many $4.35 drinks. Yes, I have told at least one person about each of those fabulous offers…WOM.
Sampling My daughter loves to go to the grocery store to try all the foods that are sampled. I have made purchasing decisions based on her recommendations and her enthusiasm sometimes instigates other shoppers to try the samples. I love letting my friends in on the latest, greatest deli item, dip or whatever that we “found" at the store…WOM.
Gift with Purchase Cosmetic companies are famous for GWP’s that drive immediate sales (you must make a minimum purchase to receive the gift) but more importantly, the GWP is usually a new product, which drives future sales. Ask any woman, this stuff works-we can’t wait to share the details with our friends…WOM.
Networking Groups Every day thousands of salespeople from every conceivable type of business meet over breakfast as part of a very organized effort to “network. " Membership requires offering endorsements for fellow group members to contacts outside of the group…WOM.
Email Marketing Take a look at nearly every e-letter or direct marketing email you receive and you’ll see somewhere a note to “Forward to a Friend. " Easy to do, non-invasive, and even though no words are spoken…WOM!
Give your customers something to talk about and they will spread your message. Give them something great to talk about and a bit of a nudge, and you can set your WOM campaign in motion.
Claudia Trusty develops strong marketing and branding messages that drive results for small and mid-size companies. For twenty years Trusty and Company has produced communication solutions for clients in retail and service industries. Visit them on the web at http://trustyandcompany.com/ .