Date posted: 1/12/2016 4 min read

Tips to grow word-of-mouth marketing

One important type of promotion that is often overlooked by business leaders is word of mouth marketing and advertising

In brief

  • When you have happy clients or customers ask if they wouldn’t mind giving you an online testimonial
  • Monitor your reputation so you can use feedback to continually refine and improve processes
  • Pay it forward - be generous and give referrals to others

1. Ask for it

Ask for testimonials and use them. It might seem obvious, but the number one reason you might not be getting referrals is because you’re not asking for them, assuming that happy customers will naturally provide them.

People are often oblivious to the vital role they play in getting new business through your door. By asking, you become top of mind for them. They don’t have to rave about you, but their information needs to be relevant and persuasive.

If asking customers to refer you to their peers, the key is to simplify it for them. It’s as basic as saying: “I grow my business through direct referrals from satisfied people like yourself. Please feel free to refer me if you think of anyone who could benefit from our services.” Always hand out two or more business cards to each person at a time so that these can be passed on, if the occasion arises.

2. Use social media

Another key finding from the WOMMA survey was that big growth is anticipated in online social media spending. Leveraging social media sites can help foster WOM marketing.

When you have happy clients or customers ask if they wouldn’t mind giving you an online testimonial, as this too will help with your WOM referrals — especially if you ask them to do it on a platform like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, where others will see it. It’s one thing seeing a testimonial on the company’s website, but a testimonial given by a real person — publicly — adds a new level of credibility to the referral.

You want personal WOM testimonials, endorsements, and reviews that are specific. Generic testimonies have very little impact for businesses, but specific reviews will help to highlight the products and services you offer and how they have helped others.

LinkedIn, for example, helps businesses collect recommendations and endorsements. When people interact with your page, their “connections” can see those interactions and can click to visit your page. An active and engaging LinkedIn profile is the first step.

With Twitter, every tweet offers the ability to attract interested people to your profile and to your website. When others interact with you, their followers see this interaction too. Others may also discuss your product on Twitter and this could generate interest and clicks to places that discuss your product or service. An active and follow-worthy Twitter profile could do great things for your marketing efforts.

3. Build a community

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand has many channels where members and provisional members can ask technical questions, engage in discussion forums, trade advice and tips, and provide feedback.

This kind of engagement is crucial as not only are you receiving invaluable feedback about your business, this space also helps to encourage dialogue with your past and potential customers.

4. Monitor your reputation

You have to continue to keep a watchful eye on the feedback and referrals you’re getting. While WOM marketing isn’t necessarily as easy to measure as some other marketing methods, it can work tremendously in your favour when it’s going well. But when left unchecked, it can go downhill very quickly and bad feedback will easily outrank the good.

WOM marketing is largely based on customer experience so make the customer experience a priority and monitor your reputation so you can use feedback to continually refine and improve processes.

Also, take stock of the people who are already recommending you. Make sure they know how much you appreciate it when they refer you and try to do things for them that show your appreciation. Depending on the size of the deal you get from the referral, a small thank you gift might be appropriate.

5. Pay it forward

Stop selling. Start helping. WOM marketing is not just a one-way street – be generous and give referrals to others when appropriate as often as you can. When you give a good referral the recipient will be appreciative and will be more likely to reciprocate if the occasion calls for it.

The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Trigger Exponential Sales Through Runaway Word of Mouth by George Silverman provides a more in-depth guide to WOM marketing.

This article was first published in the July 2014 issue of Acuity magazine.