Testimonials are a classic way to create perceptions of authentic value to customers and clients.
Other thoughts for both offline and online word-of-mouth marketing campaign are:
- Stimulate and collect testimonials and endorsements from customers, experts and opinion leaders or influencers such as media personalities, life-style commentators, etc.
- Use the internet to amplify word of mouth. Use email, blogs, Facebook and Twitter to regularly communicate with customers and other contacts, and engage them in conversations.
- Market seeding programs. Give the information or the product to influencers, trend setters and opinion leaders, who actively seek to be in the forefront of trends. Sales are driven by influencers who notice the trends and get their friends to join them in adopting the trends. Get them to recommend within their sphere of influence. They like to influence, so encourage them to tell others.
- Ask for recommendations and referrals at all points of customer contact, especially when the customers’ expectations have been exceeded. This especially applies to after-sales service.
- Support existing customers in telling others. Provide support (information, events, telephone contact numbers, website) for customers who want to get their friends to buy the product or service.
- Leverage existing recorded word-of-mouth content. Spread the testimonials of existing customers through brochures, articles, ‘advertorials’, video excerpts, websites, emails, and social media, etc. Be tactful about this – don’t overdo it. Try to find human interest or newsy angles to engage your audience.
- Customer networking program. Bring customers and prospects into a formal or informal network, such as a customer club, to spread the word.
- Preferred customers. Reward current customers to make them feel privileged.
- Advisory and user groups. Bringing customers into advisory groups stimulates their enthusiasm and makes them feel important. This applies especially to websites that provide advice and tips.
- Create case studies and human-interest stories supporting the key messages, and communicate them through the media.
- Place the product in places that will imply third party endorsement, ie in cooperative local businesses, retailers, especially where the product can be given to the business owner as a gift.
- Create events, including fun events, that will spread word-of-mouth information – seminars, parties, product launches, publicity, conferences, etc.
- Brainstorm with employees for ideas to promote the product or service by word of mouth.
- Organize employee communication programs to encourage employees to engage in word-of-mouth activities. Involve them in the development of scripts or agreed wording to use.
- Use customer satisfaction programs to stimulate word-of-mouth support, then use the results to create further word-of-mouth support.
- Monitor rating services, especially online consumer rating services, to determine what improvements could be made to the product or service that would create higher ratings for it.
These tips provide abundant potential for astute communicators to take the initiative and play a sizable role in the planning and implementation of word-of-mouth marketing activities. Almost every stage of the process offers opportunities to make an impact. What can you do to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing?