Word-of-mouth marketing can come to life in two ways – organically or through a more targeted approach.
Organic WOMM happens naturally and spontaneously. Customers are happy with a product or service and enthusiastically share their experience with friends, family, and acquaintances. They become your brand advocates.
Targeted (or accelerated) WOMM happens when businesses launch campaigns specifically designed to encourage word-of-mouth promotion.
With organic WOMM, what people say is mostly out of your control. Their exuberant praise is a welcome surprise on the pages of your social media platforms or in your Google Alerts. All you can do is create great products and provide the best customer service possible, and then it’s pretty much out of your hands.
But with targeted WOMM, you have more control over the narrative. There are specific strategies you can use to not only get people talking about you, but also influence what they’re saying.
The Secret of WOMM – Work Backwards
It may sound strange, but to create a successful targeted WOMM initiative, you need to work backwards.
What do you want customers to say about you? What is the message you want people to share?
Determine what’s important to your target audience (e.g., price, quality, sustainability, community etc.), and your primary marketing objectives, and then create a WOMM campaign that will trigger conversation around this very specific part of your business.
For example, if you’re a coach who wants to move away from time-consuming one-on-one coaching and encourage more online course sign-ups, you would create a WOMM initiative that gets customers talking about, and sharing, their experience with your most recent course.
Get People Talking
Now that you know what you want them to say, here are some tips to get customers talking about you and sharing with others.
Imprint Your Key Message
What makes you stand out from other companies in your industry or niche? Identify your point of differentiation, reinforce it, ‘imprint’ it in people’s minds, and then prompt them to share that information.
In your post-purchase emails, highlight what makes you special in your headers, subject line, or tagline. People will remember this and will refer to it when they review your product or write a comment on your social media pages.
For example, after someone attends an online weekend bootcamp, send an email with highlights from the event that you have determined to be the most marketable, and then ask them to share their experience with friends.
Incorporate a visual trigger
Create an ‘About Us’ page, intro video, meme etc. that is so unique, memorable, and eye-catching that people will want to share it.
Stir People’s Emotions
Make people feel something. Generate conversation and shares around a topic close to your heart that is related to your niche. You can even align your brand with a specific charitable cause.
For example, if you are a career coach whose primary target is women, donate a percentage of your income to an organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing mentorship, training, and professional attire. It is a worthy cause closely aligned to your business that provides a good story that is share-worthy.
Create a referral program
Incentivize people to refer your products or services to others. If you offer them something in return for a referral, they will take that step from ‘satisfied customer’ to brand advocate.
Rewards could include a discount off their next purchase, a gift card for a certain number of referrals, or bonus gift with their next order.
There are many ways to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and guide the narrative. Get people talking and expand your customer base, generate sales, and increase revenue.