Think about the last time you indulged in a product or service because a friend of a friend had been raving about it.
With social media constantly on the rise, catching wind of trends you just have to invest in are as easy as a single swipe on Instagram. You might come across an enticing celebrity endorsement that interests you—but hear a sterling review from a colleague or sibling and you’re sold.
This should come as no surprise. Some 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family, and in today’s hyper-connected society, a single tip or suggestion can go a long way.
Sharing one’s positive experiences at a restaurant or hair salon, or one’s favorable reviews on a new gadget is, in itself, a free form of advertising or promotion. You can call it word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM): the process of actively influencing and encouraging a discussion about a business, resource, product, service, or event.
Conversations about your business don’t simply happen overnight—they are the result of consumer satisfaction, and a consumer’s desire to reflect their contentment. Pleasing your customer is one major ordeal, which means WOMM often gets overlooked. However, it remains to work effectively because:
- WOMM snowballs. When people talk, there is great potential to provoke an exponential referral chain that results in persistent traffic, leads, and sales.
- WOMM takes advantage of existing human relationships. Your customer base is your greatest marketing asset. The happier your customer, the higher your chances they drive new ones your way.
- WOMM is exclusive. Consumers want to feel special. With over 1 billion users active on Instagram, exclusive groups may be difficult to come by. By offering off-the-record information, businesses create triggers, or provoke a need for exclusivity.
Word-of-mouth marketing may be free, but it requires buzz-worthy content. To maximise your WOMM campaign, here are 7 must-know tips to incorporate into your projects.
1. Stay Relevant Through Social Listening
A higher amount of followers doesn’t always beget a higher amount of sales. Having a million followers means little when your engagement is low, or when you collect instead of connect (gaining followers without having a plan to keep them). Keeping your followers hooked can be simple—be interesting, remain interesting.
Staying in-the-know about the next big thing is manageable with tools such as Google Trends. Keeping an eye out for current trends won’t only tell you what’s in fashion, but where particular fads are trending, and among whom. Still, going viral demands more than just a catchy jingle or star-studded campaign.
People talk about what they connect with and what makes them emotional. In 2017, Philippine telecommunications company Globe went viral with over 28 million views on its #CreateNewTraditions campaign for its poignant storytelling.
Alternatively, your business can tap into causes that are popular within your customer demographic. As of today, Google’s “Friends Furever” video tackling environmentalism still remains the most shared ad of all time.
Lastly, know that many reputable businesses provide excellent customer service to increase customer retention. Incorporate relationship marketing to foster loyalty, interaction, and long-term engagements. A customer service team that is consistent, reliable, and quick makes for a happy customer—and simply increasing retention rates by 5% increases profits by up to 25%.
2. Entice Customers by Offering Incentives
The best way to achieve word of mouth is to offer incentives, and the easiest way of doing this is to tap into a person’s natural desire to be a social asset: a useful source of information for their peers.
Some discounts, business models, and offerings are simply too good to keep to yourself: the more astounding the value you provide to your existing customers, the more likely they’ll be to refer others to come along.
Since monetary incentives would be difficult to provide (just imagine paying a customer to talk to their friends about you), it’s a creative way of setting them up to benefit from dropping your name in conversations.
Alternately, you can go the way of offering more material incentives: rewarding customers who actively talk about your business and help drive new sales.
A referral program is an effective way to prompt existing customers to rope in new ones. By offering discounts on future services, free check-ups and minor services, or even a small token commission, you give customers an added reason to talk about you.
3. Encourage User-Generated Content
As previously mentioned, it isn’t easy to earn a person’s trust, especially when the spectre of financial interest is thrown into the mix. While businesses do manage to earn some level of trust and expert status, 85% of users still find user-generated posts more influential than those that come from businesses.
There are an abundance of ways you can entice clients to talk about your business online; one being an opportunity for your customers to leave reviews. A small but meaningful adjustment to your workflow would be to include review solicitations: asking customers to leave kind words on Google or Yelp.
The more convenient you make it for your clients, the better. We recommend sending them a follow-up email thanking them for their patronage, which includes a link to your Yelp profile or Google reviews. This removes the burden of asking from your on-site staff, and provides an easy way for them to publish their appreciation.
Reviews help new customers make decisions. In fact, one will view an average of seven before trusting a business. Accessible reviews help reassure performance quality and back the value of your claims.
4. Provide Unique Experiences for Your Audience
Nowadays, different is the new normal.
People talk about experiences that are memorable and out-of-the-box. Trace back to the last Starbucks you picked up a coffee at. Did they butcher your name with a ludicrous misspelling? If not, someone else’s surely did, as it’s the kind of quirky, mildly interesting happening that people love sharing online.
Creating share-worthy experiences don’t always require a “go big or go home” attitude. In fact, the most effective conversations occur because they are bite-sized. You can even market old products or services with a new spin, or tie them along with limited-time offers. After all, dozens of businesses such as Birkenstock and Polaroid are making a comeback, riding the wave of resurfacing trends.
Consider how the re-emergence of retro has allowed Polaroid to remain top-of-market by configuring its latest product, the OneStep 2, to function as a classic analog gadget with modern features. Old meets new, and people are buying into it. Polaroids are now even making cameos on popular digital series like Stranger Things, which has since paved the way for limited-edition sales.
Presenting something novel or eccentric is a great way to get people talking, and it doesn’t involve having to ask your customers to act. If they like what they see, they’ll talk about it.
5. Engage With Influencers
Influencer marketing is an attractive method of business representation. As individuals with massive followings have a powerful impact, it should come as no surprise that 49% of people have attributed their purchase decisions to very popular people. When implemented properly, influencers drive action (not just awareness).
For a tradie business, influencer marketing is a matter of finding notable people within your community, and finding (both casual and formal) ways to get them talking about you.
An easy way to find influential people would be to keep an eye out for prominent people and businesses adjacent to your business. See an electronics dealership on Facebook with an active page? Know a local car enthusiast with a lot of friends? These are the kinds of people and entities worth getting to know.
Any influencer you choose to engage with should be open to sharing candid thoughts and experiences with your business. After all, one of the biggest reasons why influencer marketing is so successful is because popular people are, at the end of the day, seen as people with relatable needs and opinions that count.
Similarly, you can partner with groups that support a cause. These are local organisations that are, for example, dedicated to building homes for sheltering the needy or assisting victims of fires and natural disasters.
A partnership with them means two things: first and most importantly, your business helps good people do good things, and second, you receive some mileage out of the arrangement.
6. Involve Other Communities
As stated, WOMM functions on the premise of one’s natural desire to feel special or extraordinary. In this case, your business can be exclusive by being inclusive. Take a relevant community and collaborate with them.
One advantage of being a tradie business is your proximity to communities: literal neighbourhoods full of people who might need their homes repaired, cars looked after, electronics maintained, and commercial buildings built.
Acting as a pillar within your community is a good way of increasing people’s awareness of your business, connecting with new leads, and putting your business at the center of any and all discussions related to your field of expertise.
You could set up do-it-yourself workshops, organise hang-outs among people with hobbies related to your business (ex. amateur inventors and engineers), or plan similar activities aimed at creating or nurturing a sense of shared belonging.
Trends might come and go, but communities that create powerful bonds tend to stay. Engage with those who have participated in your events and develop groups of common interest: these groups will grow over time, as members drag more and more of their friends into the mix.
Encourage them to discuss their problems, how they’ve tried to solve them, and their ideas for more effective solutions. This lets you discover more about your market, using the most reliable information possible.
7. Incorporate New Technology
In some ways, WOMM is pegged the “original” social media platform, what with its ability to cascade trends and information quickly. It was effective then, and is, in most ways, still effective now. The fact that technology has increased social connectivity just makes marketing your business all the more doable.
New technology is a major talking point. People get excited by tools and apps they’ve never seen before, especially when they’re used by businesses often perceived to be “traditional” brick-and-mortar establishments.
Most people think of screwdrivers and tape when they hear the term repair work. Just imagine their surprise when they a set of 3D-printed replacement parts for their appliances and electronics.
Now, we aren’t telling you to go out and ruin yourself by spending on a whole 3D printer—there are cheaper ways to make a big impact with current technology.
You can piggyback on phenomena like augmented reality (AR): apps that bring digital constructs to life. Recall a commission that didn’t go as planned because buyer-creator intentions didn’t quite seem to align. Giving your client the opportunity to somehow experience or picture their projects before coming into fruition not only builds trust, but gets them talking about a stellar customer experience.
Have a look at the different kinds of AR apps available on the market, and see if there are any that could work into your business model. You’re after something that genuinely improves your tradies’ efficiency, while also adding some dramatic flair to your work.
On the whole, WOMM is an underrated form of advertising that deserves more attention. That being said, it’s also something that functions beyond awareness and requires a strategy.
Remember to pay special care to what your customers are talking about—not that they simply are doing so. Feedback is crucial, whether positive or not. An audience that talks is still a tool, and a resourceful one at that.
If you focus on fundamentals, you reap what you sow. Provide users with the best experience possible. Make them feel connected to your business. And watch them talk.