Recently, I enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant celebrating with a friend. Despite seeing advertisements for this establishment, I had never been. But lately in conversation several people mentioned to me what an exceptional experience they had dining there.
After that, I couldn’t stay away. Recommendations from friends and colleagues spoke to me in a way that ads never had. I stopped in for a bite and was not disappointed.
While a conversation may seem like just another part of each day, in this case it functioned as a marketing device. Word of Mouth Marketing (sometimes referred to as WOMM or WOM), is a crucial tool in any business’ marketing kit. Consciously or unconsciously, you’re likely participating in WOMM frequently. Anytime you recommend a product, restaurant, establishment, service, or destination, you’re influencing whether another person decides to patronize that business or purchase that product.
You may be asking, is this really marketing? The conversations we have from day to day aren’t scripted and approved by a company’s marketing department. But they have just as much, if not more, power than traditional marketing channels to make or break your business.
Word of Mouth Marketing: The Numbers
Would it surprise you to learn that 42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago? As sincere as your advertising may be (maybe you really do offer the best auto service in town) your audience is less trusting than ever of your message.
However, 90% of consumers are more likely to trust and purchase from a brand that has been recommended by a friend. And WOM impressions result in 5 times more sales than a paid media impression. In the nonprofit sector, the numbers still apply: 65% of donors learn about the causes they give to from friends and family.
While consumers place more trust in recommendations from people they know, word of mouth marketing is also bolstered by user generated content (UGC). This often takes the form of reviews from customers that are posted on a company’s social media page, web page, a Google review, or on a personal blog page.
UGC is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. A study by Bazaarvoice found that 84% of millennials are influenced by user generated content when making purchase decisions. And 73% believe it is important to read others’ opinions before making a purchase.
With so many digital resources at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to chime in with our opinions about products and services. And, WOM doesn’t stop with just one conversation—that first recommendation sets off a chain of conversations that can reach more people in more personal ways than many traditional advertising strategies.
Using Word of Mouth for Your Business
Word of Mouth is essentially free marketing. However, it’s not something you should take for granted. Because of its power and potential reach, WOM can significantly impact your business. Positive experiences lead to positive recommendations. So it’s important to do your part to make each customer’s impression of you as favorable as possible.
If you invest in a creative, smaller-scale marketing campaign, you’re going to impress a group of people who will tell others about it. Something that is fun and memorable will keep you at the top of a potential customer’s mind, and they’re more likely to share their experience and partake of your product or service.
Deliver Value for Your Customers
When marketing any business, it’s important to know and sell your unique value proposition. A major way to get someone talking about you in a positive way is to simply provide value for them. Whether it’s the personal attention you show to each customer, the ease with which you handle their projects, the special blend of creativity and knowledge you bring to the table, or your unique product offerings, if you are a valuable resource for your customers, they’ll be sure to tell others about you.
Up Your Emotion
Go to any reviews page, and you’re likely to see a similar trend. There will be a wealth of very negative and very positive reviews, with few falling in between. That’s because we tend to share stories that provoked some intense emotion in us. If my dining experience is just ok, I probably won’t tell anyone about it. But if I have a meal that knocks all the other meals I’ve had recently out of the park, I’m going to talk about it. And, I’m going to go back for another meal. Focus on creating experiences that inspire powerful emotional reactions from your customers.
Encourage User Generated Content
As stated above, UGC has a profound influence on consumers’ decision-making. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback on social media, your website, or in some other way. Ensure that that feedback is visible to a wide audience, and don’t separate the bad reviews from the good. A negative comment is a chance for your business to show its human side. You can convey that you are listening to customers and prepared to work hard to improve their experiences.
Testimonials from customers and clients is an effective way to make use of UGC in your marketing materials. You can add these to case studies, your website, or printed brochures, to name a few places. Hearing a genuine comment from an actual customer that speaks to a need or desire many of your customers share can be a powerful reason for prospects to keep reading.
Create an Incentive/Referral Program
You can also encourage customers to talk about your business by giving them an incentive to review you or refer your company to someone else. This helps to build goodwill by showing appreciation and working to turn a visitor into a regular, recurring customer.
You can’t control exactly what customers say about your business. But being aware of the power of WOMM means that you can take steps with your marketing toward creating positive and memorable experiences for each customer, so that they’ll be eager to tell others about you.
Ready to create a marketing campaign that will get people talking? Paw Print & Mail can provide you with the design, print, mail, and promotional product components to develop a truly memorable marketing experience. Contact us today!
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