For sustainable growth, word-of-mouth (WOM) is the one form of marketing that you can’t get by without. Its your most powerful means of reaching customers, and its by far the most cost effective. Indeed, WOM should be your primary marketing focus. The more successful you are here, the less reliant you will be on more expensive strategies.
Of course, understanding this is not the same as accomplishing it. You might find its a slow and challenging task. Here are some direct actions you can take to increase the strength of your Word-of-mouth marketing:
- Use basic good business practices: provide value, compete on more than just price, build strong relationships with your customers [holistic customer experience]
- Develop clear and concise messaging
- Synergize your marketing: choose marketing strategies that increase the reach and impact of WOM marketing. For instance, branded apparel can lead to conversations about your brand
- Build a strong community presence
- Use the Ultimate Question to measure and improve customer loyalty
Basic good business practices
Delivering value to your customers will encourage them to think and speak highly of you. You can’t quite measure the value of things like honesty, transparency, responsiveness, accountability, and a hassle free purchasing experience, but these are the things that will set you apart when everybody else is competitive on price.
Challenge yourself to think creatively about how you can provide a greater value. Be accessible. Build relationships with your customers. Have a system of following up that allows you to stay in touch with your customers, but also provides a value to them.
Clear and concise messaging
Your loyal customer’s recommendations will go further if you give them the right words to describe the value you provide. Define your value proposition, and boil it down to a quick and easy couple sentences that won’t force the customer to think too hard.
If this is hard, it helps to define your Unique Selling Proposition. Ultimately, you want a reason for them to choose you over anybody else -- a reason that can be explained in layman’s terms.
All of your marketing efforts are more powerful if they boost each other. In the case of Word-of-mouth marketing, all of your other marketing helps, but there’s one in particular that moves the needle: branded apparel. Think of this as a personal endorsement of your brand by the wearer. When a person sees somebody they trust endorsing your brand, you’re a shoo-in. Branded apparel is also a great lead-in to conversations about your brand, where your loyal customers educate people for you.
Make yourself familiar to the community. Talk to people in line at the grocery store, at the gas pump, at the park (if you’re wearing your own branded apparel, so much the better). Be active in community events. The more people you meet, the more people are going to ask you what you do for work (and thus find out what you can do for them). Represent your brand with good communication, integrity and respect. Be the known local expert, so that when somebody says “I need a good...” somebody else says “I know a guy.”
Net Promoter Score
The Ultimate Question is a reliable measure of the strength of your WOM. Just because your customers buy from you doesn’t necessarily mean they’re loyal. Your Net Promoter Score will tell you the truth. To get your NPS, you ask all of your customers the same question (after they purchase from you): on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to somebody? Your goal is a NPS of 9 or greater. If it’s less, you have work to do. Getting to 9 or greater is a worthy challenge; however, a score 8 or 7 is not necessarily bad, per se. It just means that some of your customers aren’t out there advocating for you in the community. If your NPS is lower than 7, though, it means they’re probably out there saying bad things about you.
For more info, you can read The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld, which we strongly recommend.