Word of mouth as a marketing tactic

You might not think of word of mouth as a tactic you can use to engage new customers.

Maybe you think it’s just an outcome of people loving your product or service.

This might be the case for many small businesses who don’t give it the proper time or thought but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Like every other form of advertising you can plan for it and use it in your marketing mix without just waiting and hoping for it to happen.

There are a few things you can do to help the process go more smoothly and ensure that customers start sending you referrals rather than you going looking for them at every junction.

  1. Make sure your customers know how to share what it is you actually do. Do they have the language to use to communicate what you do and the problem you solve. You can do this by making sure all your messaging is simple, consistent and repeated regularly. This will help customers subconsciously memorise the information so they can repeat it to their friends and peers when required.
  2. Do something worth talking about. This is more than just meeting specification (that’s expected) going beyond this is important, that might be through additional bonuses, unexpected levels of customer service, making things right when things go wrong or just wowing your customers.
  3. Ask for the referral, encourage customers to develop the habit of telling their friends about you and your business. If you are providing a good service and share how much it helps you, it’ll keep it front of mind when the opportunity comes up for them to tell a friend about you.
  4. Always, always, always deliver on the brand promise. No customer wants to feel burnt if they refer you and you end up making them look silly for vouching for you and then doing a bad job.

If there’s one thing to avoid it might be the use of paid or incentive referral programmes. These can backfire in the eyes of prospects hearing a referral as they can think that their friends or peers are knot referring them for the incentive or bonus which undermines the trust in your business.

Organic referrals are the way forward and word of mouth is an excellent tool to do this with. So why not make it a key element of your small business marketing mix!

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