Despite all the changes occurring in the marketing world, one thing still remains constant – word-of-mouth is still one of the best forms of marketing. Nothing is more powerful than one person recommending your service to someone else. That personal endorsement carries more weight than any advertising message, testimonial, Facebook ‘like’, or online review.
But generating positive word-of-mouth is difficult. You have aggressive competitors, and your customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of marketing messages every day. But with word-of-mouth, it’s the little things that count. The ability of others to share what you do, doing the unexpected, and building trust for the long-term with help others spread the message about your business.
Do you pass the mum test?
Businesses that generate good word-of-mouth referrals are easy to share. Being easy to share is when customers, friends, and family can clearly explain what you do.
To demonstrate this, I invented something called the ‘mum test’ which is something I use with clients who have this problem. The test is quite simple. Ask yourself, can your mum explain to someone else what you do? If she can’t then your business isn’t easy to share.
This test isn’t about making your mum your best referral source. It’s about people who know, like, trust (and love) you, knowing what you do and the value you provide. To become easy to share, you need to be easy to remember – and if your mum, your biggest supporter, can’t explain it to someone else then you have a problem.
Do the unexpected
Great word-of-mouth recommendations also come from delighting customers. This can be done by adding greater value to your service – give them something that’s not expected. Throw in something for free, or give out a discount that wasn’t advertised. To generate word-of-mouth endorsements, you need to stand out.
You won’t stand out by just doing a good job these days. Customers expect you to do your job but they won’t talk about you if that’s all you do. Find opportunities to delight and your customers and give them a good reason to tell others about you.
Build long-term trust
Trust is earned, and it is earned over time. Before a customer trusts you, they must know and like you. Trust grows from the experience customers have with your company, the service you provide, and the personal relationship you develop with them.
That trust is also built from experiences with customer service, through interactions on social media and the experience of buying from you. One of the key factors is consistency and always delivering on your brand promise. If you promise hassle-free returns, make sure returns are hassle-free. It’s not that hard. Live up to what you promise and customers are more likely to trust you and share their experiences with others.
For most businesses, being easier to share is about simplicity. Break your message down to a simple form, make it easy to understand and do simple things to delight your customers. This makes your business stand out from the crowd and motivates others to spread the word about you.
Chris Dale is the managing director of Sydney-based marketing consultancy, MarketingHQ.