April 21, 2015 / by Susan Guillory

When it comes to marketing, nothing beats people telling others about your brand. No advertising, no paid placement beats the simplicity of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).

Let’s think about that for a moment. Think of all the places you’ve wasted money trying to market your brand. Maybe that social media ad was a flop. Or nobody showed up to your online webinar. While you’re throwing money down the drain, your customers are doing the marketing for you…and doing a better job than you ever could.

Why Word of Mouth Works

As a society, we’ve moved away from letting advertising dictate our desires. Now we’ve taken control of the marketing messages we choose to ingest, and we’re also big on telling others about the brands we like.

Take Yelp. It’s the first place I go when researching a restaurant. What do other people think about it? How was the service? The food? If a restaurant has several stars and good reviews, I’m there. I just let my peers market to me.

So instead of putting so much effort into the wrong marketing tactics, why not focus on delivering the best possible experience with your brand so that your customers can do the heavy lifting for you?

Start With a Solid Product or Service

Word of mouth marketing tip

Your foundation has got to be secure before you do any marketing (or trust your customers to do a good job of it). Analyze your business. Where are the cracks? Is your product truly competitive in the market? Does it fill any niches that others don’t?

Now move on to your service. Do each of your employees treat customers with respect? Do they make them feel welcome? You can hire a few secret shoppers to see what the experience is when you’re not around.

Be open about making changes. The last thing you need here is wool over your eyes, thinking everything’s magical. Then you get a couple of negative Yelp reviews and you’re devastated. Pull your head out of the sand and see your business with all its flaws. Then fix them.

Want to turn employees into brand advocates? Get our free “Activate Employees on Social Media” tip sheet now!

Encourage WOMM

The easier you make it for customers to tell others about you, the more likely they will. If you sell online, send an email after the purchase asking them to review your product online. Or send them the link to your Yelp page.

Make all your blog content easily sharable with social sharing tools. While sharing your blog content isn’t a direct thumbs-up for your product, it’s still getting your brand in front of new people, so consider social shares word of mouth too.

Engage Back

Track who’s talking about your brand on social media and blogs, and be quick to respond. If there’s a negative Yelp review, respond immediately. Apologize and make it better. That’s your best shot for to show people that visit that page that you’re proactive about remedying issues, and hopefully they’ll come in to see for themselves.

Thank those who rave about your brand. You can even give them a token of appreciation, like a free meal next visit or a great coupon.

Remember: your fans are your marketing army. Treat them with respect, and they’ll send floods of new business through your doors.

Want to make word of mouth work for you? Get our free “Build & Evangelize Community With Word-Of-Mouth Marketing” white paper now!

Featured Image: Ricky Thakrar (Creative Commons)

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About Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Cision, Forbes, AllBusiness, Small Business Trends, The Marketing Eggspert Blog and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.