Mining gold – the value of word of mouth
Have you ever read a review online that has made you want to purchase a product or service? Has a friend, work colleague, family member or neighbour told you about a product or service that you then decided to buy? If so, you have experienced the power of Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing. Cecelia Haddad explains how you too can harness the power of WOM for your business.
So what is WOM marketing?
WOM marketing occurs when a consumer’s interest in a product or service is communicated in their daily conversations. This can be a conversation offline (face to face or over the phone) or online (email or social media networks).
According to Neilsen1 research, 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness.
One happy customer has the potential to tell one person or one million people about an exceptional service they have experienced or a great product they just purchased. The value in WOM over advertising for example is that this customer is telling your story for free, not a fee. Your customers don’t have to talk about how great you are but they choose to because they have had their own positive personal experience. This is the gold that must be mined by companies who truly want to make an impact with marketing.
So how can you, as a tradesperson, harness the power of WOM?
Firstly ask yourself what you are doing to make your customers feel positiveenough to recommend you. A good experience isn’t enough, in fact it is expected, but an exceptional experience will get people talking.
What your customers will talk about is not what you would write in your advertisements. It’s the experience they have with you and it needs to be memorable. It doesn’t have to be an overly expensive exercise. It could be a follow up phone call a week after you have handed them the keys to their new home to see if there is anything they need or a voucher to the local pizza shop to save them cooking on the day they move in. These gestures are unexpected but turn a good experience into a memorable one.
Think about how you could create and deliver that experience in your business.
Have you noticed how we now live in a consumer driven world? Where companies and brands once had all the voice and power, technological advances has thrown the balance of power back to the consumer. So here are some ways you can cultivate that voice to engage and enable WOM marketing:
Engage personally with your customer: While 1000 likes on Facebook might “look good on paper”, personal recommendations are more likely to influence purchasing behaviour. Find a way to connect with your customer after you have provided your service. They will be chuffed to think you haven’t just moved onto your next project and forgotten about them but that you also care about how they are going in their new home. A branded card or postcard you have created with a photo of their house and a welcome message is something they might possibly put on their fridge especially if you take a photo of them when handing the keys over and turn that into a card. Three months later send another postcard gently encouraging them to refer you to friends and family. For the plumbers out there, how about leaving a branded scented candle for the bathroom?
You have built a house; now build a community – your community: It isn’t just the people you directly interact with that could also be part of your WOM campaign. Post shareable content on social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and on your own website. It could be something funny or quirky or just a great photo but it needs to be something that people are interested in enough to share with others.
Be the ‘go to’ expert: Write about home improvement ideas that are trending right now or predictions of what will be ‘hot’ in the future. Post this on your website, on social media or offer the story to a publication to feature.
Seek out influencers: This could include media (journalists and bloggers) writing about your industry. Connect with them and give them ‘new’ news and good content accompanied by great visuals (photos or videos). Open up a dialogue, engage with them and ask if there is anything you can help them with. They may be looking for an expert comment so let them know they can call on you if they need to.
Viral video: Creating a video that is emotional, quirky or funny can spread like wildfire as people love to be entertained and love to share that with others. The video should be easy for people to share directly or via a link.
Like any good marketing activity, you need to plan your strategy and then monitor it to ensure it’s working. It may need tweaking or you might need to do something different altogether but you won’t know until you try. Ongoing evaluation is the key.
WOM marketing is like gold. Until it is mined you really can’t take advantage of its true value.