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Let’s Talk About It

Posted by Tracie Gilbert on Friday, July 16th, 2010

Word of mouth has exploded as one of the fastest-growing segments of the marketing industry these last few years. According to a report by PQ Media of Stamford, Conn., an alternative media researcher, it is forecasted to reach $3.7 billion by 2011, with blogs and social networking sites such as Facebook seeing ever increasing popularity. At the same time, word of mouth is one of the oldest forms of advertising. As long as there have been brands, people have talked about them, both positively and negatively. Unfortunately, people are much more likely, almost 10 times in fact, to talk about a negative product experience than a positive one. So how to you generate positive word of mouth? Read on for a few simple tips and tricks.

Talk to Me. Diversify your networks by getting active within your community, professional networking groups or professional associations. Most business people stay within their comfortable zone of home and work and back again and can’t figure out why no one is referring them. Get active and visible within your community and let people know you are there. (More tips on this next month!)

Mouth to Mouth. Develop relationships with businesses that are symbiotic and noncompetitive with yours. The wedding industry, real estate market and construction industry are all great examples of this. A new customer for one becomes a referral for the rest – such as with real estate where your real estate agent can refer you to a mortgage broker, title company, inspection and repair companies. Determine what services best compliment your own and begin building a relationship with them, breathing new life into all of your businesses.

He Said, She Said. Use your website and social media outlets to your advantage. Create a system where customers can review your products or services. Customer reviews are one of the most effective user-generated methods for driving sales. In fact, over three quarters of customers admit to seeking out peer reviews before purchasing a product or service (A.C. Nielsen). Then expand outward from your website inviting customer feedback from various venues such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and partner websites – you want to make it easy for people to talk about your brand wherever they are…and to drive them back to your site. Finally, if you get a good customer review – use it. Integrate it into your ads, signage, newsletters, emails, etc and let customers know what others are saying.

Actions Speak Louder. Develop an army of volunteers, samplers, ambassadors, etc that you can send out new product/service invites to for the purpose of reviewing and telling friends and colleagues about. Large companies such as Procter & Gamble, Lee Jeans, even movie companies such as New Line Cinemas, have begun using this method that has been shown to increase favorable opinions in case after case from 50-75%. (Source: Company reports). By using a select group of thought leaders of companies, clubs or groups to ‘preview’ your new product or service, you are creating implied endorsers/thought influencers to sell for your brand.

Keep a Civil Tongue. Obviously, you do not want to ignore your current customers either. Remember that the customer is always right and to keep them happy. A happy customer will come back for more business as well as tell their friends and colleagues about you. Make sure you listen to your customers and show that you care about their needs. Get their opinions on new products or services and incorporate the useful information. Customers like to think that you value their opinion – and you should. After all, they are the ones supporting your business.

Talk Shop. Referral programs are always a great way to get current customers to tell their friends and colleagues about your business. Referral promotions can be something as simple as a percent off their next purchase, a free gift or a donation made to their favorite charity. The important thing is to make it as easy as possible to refer you. That means emails that they can just forward, including business cards or brochures with invoices, samples/gifts that they can share (such as pens, notepads, lollipops with your logo/web address), etc. – whatever method (or better yet METHODS) you use, make sure the customer can pass it on easily and quickly. You want to show the current customer that you appreciate the fact that they would refer you, but not take up any more time in their busy day.

The Final Word. Last, but not least, you do still need to focus on minimizing your negative word of mouth by making sure to provide a quality product or exceptional service. It does not do any good to get new customers if you are unable to keep them. Make sure that you are honest in your marketing materials and sales tactics. Try and correct problems immediately, showing them that their business is important to you. Referrals and growth are going to be hard to come by if the customer is unsatisfied. Better yet, go the extra mile. Make sure the work you do get’s people energized, excited and eager to tell a friend.

Increasing your business through word of mouth advertising is about cultivating relationships with people and allowing them to get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in. Simple as that. If you go into this process understanding this one key point, you will have a better opportunity to build your business through word of mouth.

“If it’s not worth talking about, it’s not worth doing.”
 – Andy Sernovitz – Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking

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Cosmetic Promotions: Retail Beauty Marketing
Cosmetic Promotions, Inc.
2111 W Pine St. Orlando, FL 32805
Phone: 407-310-4839