Here at WOMO, we usually write about the effectiveness of online customer reviews for increasing your customer base, but today we've got a bucketload of different word-of-mouth advertising and marketing ideas.
1) Most Obvious… Ask Customers for Referrals
Asking nicely can actually take you a long way with word-of-mouth marketing. When you pay your customers the compliment of making them feel like they're part of your inner team, it can trigger them to start spreading the word.
If a customer give you positive feedback, how about saying something like;
- "I'm so glad to hear that you're happy with our service. We're always looking for referrals and wonder if you might know anyone else who would be interested in __________ (your type of work)."
- "I'd really appreciate it if you'd pass our name onto any of your friends or family that you think we could be of service to."
2) Join Facebook or LinkedIn Groups
Find groups on Facebook or LinkedIn that are relevant to your line of work. For instance, a nutritionist might join a Paleo group, a mechanic might join a Holden group. Contribute periodically without overtly selling yourself. From time to time you might see opportunities to put your services forward.
3) Fix Problems – REALLY Well
It might sound counter-intuitive but when something goes wrong, you've got a great opportunity to build word-of-mouth for your business. Firstly apologise (genuinely) and then go above and beyond to rectify the situation and earn points back in your customer's eyes – that's what gets them talking. So if the customer wasn't happy with their main meal, replace that meal but then also give them a free dessert. Or you're a mechanic and a part took longer than expected to come in, give the customer's car a full clean inside and out to make up for the time delay.
4) Give Customers an Offer to Give Away
Create some sort of card, flyer or email that contains an offer that your customers can give to others. You might say; "To thank you for your patronage, here's a 20% off coupon that you can use for your next service – and I've given you 3 more that you can give to your friends." You might even want to limit the usage to increase the perceived value, so an email could say "you can forward this to 2 friends – just tell them to mention you when they book".
5) Talk About Your Business
Give customers something to talk about by creating and telling stories about your business. Let them know how (and why) you started, give them snippets into your life, and let them know some of the inner workings of the business. For instance, if you talk about how you carefully select your ingredients or raw materials from only certain suppliers, that gives customers more faith in your business and something to mention to others.
6) Take Photos of Your Customers
Using phone apps, you can easily overlay a photo of your customer with their name and perhaps even some words they've used to describe your business. Watermark it with your logo and voila- you've got a great piece of content to share on Facebook or other social media. (Thanks to Michelle from Mishfit Personal Training for this tip.)
Another example of this idea is a car dealership that takes a photo of everyone taking their first drive in their new car. They put this on Facebook and encourage the customer to tag themselves – which puts the picture in front of the customers friends and family.
7) Video Testimonials
Similar to above, but instead of a photo, ask customers if you can take a video of them describing their experience with your business. These can also be posted in social media, but are also great material for your newsletter or regular client emails (you do have these, right?)
8) Newsletter, Blog or Customer Emails
Whatever you call it, having a way to regularly contact customers is important. If you don't have email addresses, start collecting them. Then think of useful and interesting content to share with customers. Remember, the main purpose of these communications is NOT to sell, but to remind customers about your service. (They're busy people and you may not be the most important thing on their minds!)
9) Use Facebook – but don't rely on it!
Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be great for building up a fan base and communicating with customers and potential customers. You can share information related to your service, customer experiences, funny pictures, quotes, business promotions and more. But remember, Facebook (or whichever platform you're using) ultimately has control and can change the way your posts do (or don't) reach your fan base. It's always wise to collect an email address first and ask people to like you on Facebook second.
10) Offer Incentives for Reviews
This is a technique that you need to deploy very carefully – although it can be very effective. Please don't try to make rewards dependent on the customer writing a positive review though – this is a sure-fire way to lose your credibility with customers. Instead, say something like;
- "Anyone that submits a review for us this month, goes in the draw to win an iPad." Or,
- "Our business relies on word-of-mouth so to thank people for spreading the word, we're giving away a free foot massage to anyone that submits an online review this month."
(If you use WOMO's Happy Customers Program, you can have an incentive included on your "Review Us" Flyers.)
11) Target Key Influencers
In every market there are some customers whose opinions carry a lot more weight than others. The trick is to find these people and get them to try your service! For instance, you could try sending samples of your product to a celebrity (who will hopefully wear them), or on a lower key, you can also target someone who organises mothers group catch ups and offer them an incentive for encouraging their group to try your coffee shop or come to your hair salon.
12) Create a WOW factor
Along the lines of giving customers something to talk about, think of something a bit different you can add to your service. This is above and beyond simply providing great service. For example Misty's Diner offers a great food and service but beyond that they run their Burger Challenge where they create a monster burger and give custoemrs 14 minutes to eat it – successful participants receive a free T-shirt and are put up on their wall of fame. Whether people participate or not, it creates a great talking point.
13) Work with Complimentary Businesses
Run a hair salon? Put some flyers in the nearby beauty therapist.
Run a car wash? Put some flyers in a nearby mechanic.
Run an accounting practise? Team up with a financial advisor to refer customers to each other.
Run a restaurant? Collaborate with a cafe to give customers discount cards so that you can suggest a place for breakfast and the cafe can suggest your restaurant for dinner.
Make sure you proactively send your customers towards this business to demonstrate how the relationship should work. You might also want to offer your services for free to the owner (they're most likely an important local influencer).
14) Host Events
Give customers an opportunity to introduce their friends and family to your business. Host events to celebrate a milestone or something that's happening in your industry – but importantly, give customers a reason to come! For example, a cake shop could hold a "Cookie Taste Off – help us test out 5 new recipes and take home a free sample bag", or a financial advisor could run a seminar; "4 Steps to Buying Your First Investment Property". Make it fun, make sure you meet everyone, and make sure you collect everyone's contact details.
15) Reward Referrals
Whenever you find that a new customer came to you from a referral, find out who it was and proactively thank them! This could be simply by picking up the phone and saying 'thank you', or you could send them a thank you gift or voucher. Don't wait to have an official program in place, let your existing referrers know that their efforts are appreciated.
16) Follow Up
An extremely simple way to stand out from the crowd is to offer exceptional follow-up. Go through your customer list from last week and call them today to check that they're still happy with everything. Even if you just leave a voicemail, you'll be way ahead of other businesses.
17) Look for PR or Blog Opportunities
Getting coverage in press is a great way to generate positive word-of-mouth, but it's not always easy. You can employ a PR consultant to help with this, or you can do it yourself. One great resource to sign up to is Sourcebottle – this site will send you daily emails showing you what articles jouralists are looking for input on. It's free to join and you can select the categories you're best suited to. If you sell products that you'd like reviewed by bloggers, you can also register for MediaBag.
18) Get out and Network
This is an oldie, but if your business operates in a local area, you'd be smart to get out an mingle amongst the people! Join small business networking groups, or even bookclubs, or associations. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to new people and let everyone know what you do.
19) Give Away Branded Merchandise
Provie customers with an item that is branded – that they'd be prepared to use publically in front of other people (sorry but no one needs another pen!). If you're going to do this, make sure your merchandise is really good – get a designer involved and don't make your branding too prominent. If you're a gym, you could give away a cool T-shirt with a great slogan. If you're a beautician, give away a portable makeup bag.
20) Use WOMO's Happy Customers Program for Online Reviews
For businesses wanting to grow with word-of-mouth, the Happy Customers Program helps businesses encourage online reviews, and then use those reviews to promote your business. Online reviews are one of the most powerful forms of marketing as more than 80% of all purchases for goods and services start with a search on the internet, and 78% of people trust consumer recommendations above ALL other types of marketing (Nielsen).
Tools to help you get customer reviews include;
- Review Us Flyers – physical DL size flyers, customised with your business name and instructions for customers
- Review Us Button for your website
- Email template to send to customers
- Request Reviews form on WOMO (you enter the customer's contact details and we email them)
- Submit a Review form on WOMO (you enter the customer's review on their behalf and we email them for approval)
- Review incentives – include a giveaway on the flyers to entice customers to review you
- Self-print Review Us Froms
Tools to help you showcase your customer reviews include;
- Reviews Widget – shows your reviews scrolling on your website
- Facebook link – post your positive reviews to your Facebook page
- Special Offers – included in the WOMO emails to members in your service area
- Customers-Recommend Flyers
- Review Posters
Word-of-mouth is definitely the most powerful form of marketing, so pick a tip and start implementing! You'll be amazed at the difference it makes to your business.
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