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June 20, 2013

Keys to Success: Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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Word-of-mouth (WOM) is one of the most powerful marketing tools.  Unfortunately, it’s not something that you can just pay for like other marketing strategies. WOM deals with real people (your customers). So, how do you get people to do WOM marketing for you?  You make them love and trust you, your product/service, and your company.

Positive from the get-go

I read a blogpost recently that was spot on in saying that every interaction counts because success is built by building relationships.  Felicia Joy, the writer of the article, stated: “From the very first phone call, we strive to cultivate a positive relationship with our customer.” This is one of the fundamental ways to ensure your customers love you enough to support you and your products/services.  Of course, first you have to make sure your product/service is as good as you say it is.  However, the experience your customer has with you matters.

Have you ever gone to a recommended restaurant only to experience absolutely horrendous service and then decide after that night: “Never again?” You must apply the same philosophy to your business. Guaranteeing that every customer has a positive experience with you ensures their patronage.  And if there’s one thing most patrons have in common: it’s that they will tell all their friends about things like “this great new restaurant where I take my lunch, the service is superb,” or “this great new product I’m using, it does wonders for the skin,” or “this tiny clothing store where the attendants are so helpful.”

Feeling special

When you were a child, being heard played a big part in developing your self-esteem. Being asked about your opinions on issues, no matter how small, helped make you feel important.  This is true even as you get older.  As a business owner, you can use this to your advantage.  You know how YouTube stars often ask their viewers, at the end of each episode, to write their opinions on the issue tackled or what they think the next episode should be about on the comments below?  Well, that’s exactly what you need to do too. These YouTubers gain viewership because of their relationship with their audience. It’s all a matter of encouraging feedback, and participation. Asking for their feedback will make your customers feel valued.  Positive emotions not only encourages patronage from customers, but also encourages them to share with their peers.

Creating a need

You’re probably wondering, “How am I supposed to do this?”  The first step is to inform your customers. They have to know your products inside and out.

There are two ways for you to play this:

  • You can subliminally suggest why they need your product in their lives, or
  • Allow them to associate the information (about your product) you’ve given them with a specific need.

Let’s take the SmartShopper Electronic Grocery List Organizer for example. The SmartShopper is a gadget that enables you to list all of your groceries and errands audibly. You tell the gadget what you need to purchase or do, then it organizes your list and prints it out in sections for you.  SmartShopper has an inventory of 2,500 common items and tasks. You can program some of the more uncommon items into the device; however, this is a taxing process of using arrow keys to spell out an item.  Also, it does not respond well to all accents.  Sometimes, you still have to go back to the device to select what item you’re actually talking about.  You can say “Ajax” and it would interpret something completely different. Despite all these drawbacks of this gadget, it has been fairly popular. This is because the company presented it as an easier, more efficient, and more organized way to list groceries and errands.  In other words, the presentation was effective in making people think they need it.  And surprisingly, some people shared about it before even purchasing the device.  This is the power of creating a need.  People discuss needs, and share solutions to those needs.

WOM, not literally

Just because you say “word-of-mouth” doesn’t mean the marketing has to come from the mouths of people. WOM can be done online. This is why a website, or Facebook page, or Twitter account is important.  Remember, a satisfied customer is your best salesperson. A well-constructed site with complete information is a medium for a happy customer to personally market and advertise your company/product/service, in your customer’s own social media accounts or blogs.  People like to share their thoughts with the rest of the word.  Why not take advantage of it?

To put it simply, you don’t always have to spend millions on advertising.  Start-ups especially should try word-of-mouth marketing. WOM is focused on your customer,  his/her experience with your product or service, and his/her relationship with your company.  WOM is a more personal approach and is key to turning your favorite customer into your best salesman.


Henry Conrad is a 29-year-old game developer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Aside from gaming and being a tech junky, he also dabbles in creative writing, which allows him to create great storylines and backgrounds for his characters and he also writes for RingCentral with regards to the VoIP Service that they provide . Follow him on Twitter and join me in Google +

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