Business trends and tools change over time, but the fundamentals largely remain the same. Word of mouth marketing is a great example of this point.
Thanks to social media and the real time web, word of mouth has evolved beyond the mouth alone. Consumers have access to a wide variety of tools that allow them to share their experiences with products and services, good bad or otherwise. The visibility and impact of these shared experiences are greater than ever before. That's why today, I'm going to talk about three factors that generate personal referrals, and give you a few tips on how to create the opportunity for more word of mouth marketing.
Word of mouth referrals don't happen because of superb customer service at the point of sale alone. Referrals happen because of trust, and trust comes from consistency. If your product or service meets all of the expectations built into its description, your customers will trust that other products and services you provide will do the same. If you repeatedly provide excellent service with accurate production or results, your customers will trust that they can rely on you the next time they need your help. And when customers can trust your accuracy, reliability, and timeliness, they can trust that you'll make them look good in front of their friends and co-workers.
TIP: Solicit feedback from your customers every chance you get. It lets them know that their opinion matters to you, and gives you insight into what you do well and ways you can improve. Every interaction your organization has with a customer is another opportunity to establish trust.
Consistency is an important factor in building trust over the long haul, but what about when a customer first finds your company and decides to give you a try? Converting a first time customer into a regular, or an infrequent one into a loyal evangelist, often comes from exceeding expectations. Consider Dave Kerpen's experience with Just Salad, and remember that it takes more than being adequate to stand out from the competition today.
TIP: Giveaways are one way to delight, and customers do love freebies, but there are other ways to get personal. Think about retention as much as you think about acquisition, and show new customers that you appreciate their business by sending hand written thank you cards. Most inboxes are packed to overflowing these days, so skip the email. A real piece of mail delivered to someone's door stands out, telling the recipient that they're worth extra time, and postage too!
I remember going to a panel discussion a couple of years ago that featured businessman and investor Mark Cuban. There, Cuban repeated one of the mantras that he's talked about for years: All things being equal, people will always choose the path of least resistance. This is especially true in business. If you want to ask your customers to do something for you, you have to make it effortless for them.
TIP: Make it easy for your customers to help you spread the word by providing valuable content that is worth showing to someone else. Include sharing functions on your websites for easy access to social media sharing. You can even hand out extra business cards to happy customers and ask them to share one with a friend who might be interested in your product or benefit from your service.
New technology allows companies to reach more people in more places, but all the branded advertising and marketing collateral in the world still can't compare to the value of happy customers sharing their experience with others. If you're looking for new ways to delight your customers, or need help engaging your customer base through new tools and channels, contact us today. We've been through the rollercoaster of change, and are here to help with your transition.
Jason, for the team at Kendall Press