There are no better advocates for your brand than the people who use and rely on your business. Turning your customers into your best commercials can be one of the best advertising strategies.
Treat your word of mouth strategy like the investment it is and it will pay dividends. These investments won’t look like ad buys or press campaigns, but a commitment to providing top-notch service. When a customer has an exceptional experience with your business they are more likely to tell their friends and colleagues in person and online. That may mean something as simple as keeping a record of their purchases so you can recommend the same or new products in the future or doing something out of the box, like providing milk and cookies.
Too often, word of mouth is thought of as solely a byproduct of good customer service and hope. While customer service is at the heart of every successful word of mouth plan, there are many more direct actions you can take. Businesses can – and should – take an active role in creating a word of mouth marketing strategy.
That plan can take many shapes including campaigns where you encourage your customers to refer friends for a referral discount or a perk. Those campaigns should be done in person and online. An email campaign that suggests your customers forward a message to their friends to join your listserv can be a valuable way to grow your reach in the same way having people send their friends into your storefront is.
Creating content that your customers will want to share also helps make their job as your advertisers easier. Filling your website and social media channels with shareable content will do that.
You can also encourage your customers to make shareable content through a contest. A fantastic example of that strategy is Chipotle’s haiku contest. In 2015, Chipotle ran a contest on social media encouraging their customers to write a haiku poem about burritos, offering a dinner for two for the top 20 poems – as decided by retweets, shares, and likes.
When people get invested in something like a creative contest they are eager to share their work and get their friends’ support. A haiku was an effective choice for many reasons, chief among them that they are easy and fast to write and read. There was a low time commitment and a high pay off. And, the nature of the contest encourages your customers to create social engagement and builds a more invested social media community.
Another surprising way to help customers engage with your business and make you a topic of conversation is a good founding story. Humans are hardwired to remember and tell stories. By giving your customers a compelling narrative behind your business they are more likely to have a personal connection with your brand. You’ve probably experienced this before. A friend is more likely to have recommended you visit a mom-and-pop store where they’ve talked to the owner instead of a big-box. Buddingh & Associates' clients Home Mobility Solutions (HMS) and Clancy & Associates, Ltd. are great examples of this. The founder of HMS, Mike Cleary, had a family member growing up that used a wheelchair. At the time of his accident there were no companies to call to remedy their situation. His family began constructing solutions, improvising ramps before such a thing even existed for order. These makeshift ramps helped the family member achieve greater independence. Mike's experiences with creating home solutions stayed with him and helping people stay in their homes regardless of their physical impairment or age became his passion. Katie Clancy, founding attorney at Clancy & Associates, was also inspired by a family member. Katie’s work in the Special Needs Trust area is motivated by her personal experiences. As the mother of a son with special needs, she knows firsthand the relief that financial stability and planning can bring to families in similar situations. Katie works to help families protect their children’s futures as a trusted guide who has been in their shoes.
Creating stories for your customers to tell – whether that’s through a great experience, a contest, or your own founding – gives them the material they need to be your best advertisements.
For assistance in telling your company's story, please contact us at www.BuddinghAssociates.com.
Pepper Erdmann is a Marketing Manager at Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact her at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.