How to Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing

By Tom Patty, The Marketing Guy

Everyone in business likes word-of-mouth marketing. And why not? It’s free. It’s effective. What’s not to like?

But all word-of-mouth is not equal. I like to say that the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing depends on two things: “what words?” and “whose mouth?”

First of all, you need positive word-of-mouth. It’s easy to get word-of-mouth about how unhappy and dissatisfied people are with a product or service. (Statistically, people are seven times more likely to express negative opinions than positive opinions about a business.)

Positive word-of-mouth can result from only one or two things: Either someone had (1) a really terrific, wonderful, beyond-expectations experience with a product or service or (2) they were paid to say something nice.

So, unless you are going to pay people to say nice things about your business, you actually have to have a product or service that is truly outstanding, beyond the norm and above the competition. That is Step One and is the hard part of word-of-mouth marketing.

Second, word-of-mouth marketing’s success depends upon whose mouth these words are coming from. Obviously, some people’s opinions count more than others. People are more likely to value the opinion of someone whom they respect and trust. Someone in your industry who is well respected, well known and has credibility is the best source of word-of-mouth. An example is the positive “blurbs” you see on the back cover of a book from industry experts.

Here are the critical steps you need to take to produce effective word-of-mouth marketing:

  •  Create a truly wonderful and outstanding experience for customers.
  •  Find credible, respected people who have said something positive about your business.
  •  Select the best story or quote that includes a specific benefit—that is, how your product or service saved them money or helped them solve a specific problem. People love to hear stores about personal transformation—how this product or service “changed my life.”
  •  Communicate these stories to your customers and your prime target audience. How? (1) via email (2) on your packaging (3) on your website (4) on your blog/s (5) on Facebook and other social media (7) via YouTube videos (6) in enewsletters (7) in trade journals (8) anywhere your target customers are likely to see it.
  •  Keep in mind, a great personal story that talks about a specific example of how your company’s product or service resulted in some tangible benefit to a specific customer is more effective than vague, general praise about how good you are. Convey that word-of-mouth in all the ways above, and you’ll be on the road to success.

In the final analysis, word of mouth marketing is about what words? and whose mouth? But it’s up to you to create the initial consumer or client experience that motivates someone to be part of your Positive Word of Mouth marketing campaign.

Tom Patty is a marketing expert with over 30 years of marketing experience working for Chiat/Day and Nissan and learned marketing from some of the best marketing people in the world, including Steve Jobs of Apple, Phil Knight (founder of Nike), and other CEO’s. In 2003, Tom joined SCORE and has counseled more than 200 small business owners one-on-one and has given hundreds of marketing seminars and workshops for SCORE Orange County (Chapter 114). 

One response to “How to Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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