Even with the myriad ways to market and advertise your product today, word of mouth is still the best, most reliable way to attract new business. It’s also one of the toughest to create, which is why any business trying to inspire good word of mouth can use some advice regarding the most effective ways to do it.
In theory the concept seems somewhat simple but getting current customers to tell other people about your product or service does take some time to naturally happen.
Here are 6 pointers that can help you get people talking about your product or service. Some you may already be using, but even if that’s the case, we’re also going to describe the best way to go about them.
1. Excellent Customer Service
There’s a reason that this one is at the top of the list because it’s the single most effective way to get people talking about your company with their family and friends. Offer people the best possible service and support that you can give them, and you’ll earn loyal customers who will be excited to tell others how great your company is.
With so many small businesses now competing for consumers’ attention, they will probably have a ton of options from which they choose for whatever product or service they need. With all things being equal among multiple businesses selling the same thing, customers are going to choose the business with the best service as a deciding factor, just about every time.
Exceptional customer service is what people notice the most, it’s what they notice first, and the standard for service is much higher now than it used to be; we expect it to be exceptional. It’s even possible that someone will decide to pay a little bit more for the same product if the company provides better service; it’s that important to them.
2. High-Quality Product
This strategy doesn’t need much of an explanation, but many businesses still fail to recognize on how many fronts quality is imperative for their product. That is, you most likely know that you have to make a good product so that people will feel comfortable agreeing to the price you’ve set, or to avoid returned purchases, while missing the fact that a bad product also discourages good word of mouth from your customers. In truth, there’s no scenario in which having a quality product is unnecessary.
No one would have any reason to brag about what you sold them if it’s not very good or even average; to get people talking about your product, it simply needs to be good. Even if everything about your business is noteworthy, interesting, and impressive, people will be reluctant to spread the word if the product isn’t of a high quality.
3. Send Out Some Swag
Hype. Buzz. Publicity. Whatever you call it, this idea is more than just a novelty; it’s a real strategy that you can utilize to promote your company. Sometimes it happens naturally and without any effort on your part, but if that doesn’t happen, there are ways in which you can actually inspire the buzz.
One way that you can get your company’s name out there and build a buzz for it is by making some merchandise and giving it away. Once you have some good merch, you can include it free with a purchase, give it away at trade shows or any other events, or mail it to existing customers, free of charge.
You can even run a special promotional campaign where you make a one-time, serious push during a set period of time. Send out free T-shirts, hats, swag bags, or anything else you like to a large number of people within a certain geographical area. The idea of this strategy is to flood the area with your company’s merch to set off a buzz, and to get people to start asking, “What is this company that I’ve been seeing everywhere lately?”
It can give your business a huge boost if you have the means to conduct that kind of campaign. So of course, you could say that merchandise is just a separate form of advertising in itself, but it can definitely set off positive word of mouth, too.
4. Just Ask for It
Businesses tend to have some trepidation about asking customers directly to do anything because they fear that they’re overstepping some boundary. The truth is that customers usually won’t do anything until you ask them, including giving their opinion, telling you about problems they’re having, leaving a review, etc.
Most people unfortunately just don’t take the time to do those things; so, there’s honestly nothing wrong with soliciting it from them. Customers will usually have no problem with doing something that you ask them, as long as you’re polite and it’s not something big that takes a lot of time out their day. Not all of them will oblige, of course, but some definitely will, so it’s a good idea to ask a large number of your customers, if not all of them.
Take the example of when someone makes a purchase: After they’ve bought something from you, simply ask that person to tell someone else about the product, like your business on Facebook, or write a quick Google review if they’re happy with the experience they had with your company. It’s non-invasive because you’re just asking nicely, and you’ll find that a lot of people will be more than happy to do it for you.
5. Do Something Worth Talking About
This is actually a little-used but quite effective method to encourage positive word of mouth. It’s good to remember that you can’t expect customers to talk about your business unless you give them a reason to do so, by whatever means possible.
As we discussed above, a high-quality product and excellent service are the primary ways you’re going to inspire word of mouth; however, in addition to that, doing something special and unforgettable for customers can also create the desired effect. You know those huge, inflatable dancing figures that you sometimes see out in the front of used car dealerships? That’s actually a very basic, albeit not very effective, example of this principle.
Your dancing inflatable might be a “free coffee day” in your store; or maybe everyone who comes into the store gets a hug; if you have an online store, you might tell a joke to everybody who makes a purchase, with their receipt. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a big gesture, just one that gets their attention. Anything that is memorable, and positive, will do the trick.
6. Ask Employees to Spread the Word
Finally, your own team can also help to spread good word of mouth by doing a little promotion of their own. Obviously, this would be voluntary; but, if they are willing to post something quick on their personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, or even repost something you’ve posted on the business social media accounts, it can be a great way to encourage social proof and possibly get a buzz going.
You’re probably already posting on the business social media accounts, but that has been shown to be less effective than individuals posting on their own accounts. Mainly, this is because customers who see a post on business social media accounts know that you’re biased and don’t put as much stock in that content. If they see it on a personal social account, however, it will seem more valid and unsolicited.
At any rate, getting your team involved (in whatever capacity they’re comfortable with) is always good for morale, meanwhile, it’s great for promoting your company, as well.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.