Wisely, most small business owners network through groups like chambers of commerce and business networking international (BNI). They are purposely and proactively seeking out referral business. So, what more can be done? How about designing and executing a Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) campaign? The main objective of a Word of Mouth Marketing campaign is to grow your business through referrals. A good WOMM campaign will have three main components:
A Popular Cheerleader
A Great Product
What we want from the Buzz is to get them to replace the skepticism associated with traditional “hukster” style advertising with wonder, curiosity, and excitement. There are three proven ways to generate buzz in your market.
Event. Throw an event that brings your target market to you and sends them home with an experience. The key here is to know your target market. Besides your products and services, what else do they enjoy? Wine and cheese? A BBQ? Football on the big screen? A viewing of The Secret?
Press. This is a tricky one. Getting press is actually pretty easy, which is why its tricky to get the right Buzz. The key is to try and be contrarian without being negative or overly controversial. If you can go against the grain, you will draw more interest and create more Buzz. For example, a local shipping store might send out a press release turning the latest postal rate increase into a positive!
Jump on a trend. What are the trends today? Higher gas prices. Poor housing market. Big box stores. How can you turn those trends into Buzz? I’ve seen free gas card giveaways. Try having an event at a gas station and pump some free gas. Work with a realtor to create a strategic alliance that creates the Buzz. In any case, use today’s news headlines and trends to find a unique, Buzz-worthy opportunity. You will stand out from the crowd which enhances your buzz!
A Popular Cheerleader
The second key to a successful Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) campaign is to get the endorsement of a Popular Cheerleader. In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell recommends recruiting two types of people:
The Connector: this is a person with a wide social network, a person who can spread the Word
The Maven: this is an expert whose opinion is widely accepted and used by others to make decisions.
In addition to connecting and being the expert, you want somebody on your side who is also a huge fan of your business.
When combining all three traits (connected, expert, fan), I’m going to call this person a Popular Cheerleader. This is a person you see bouncing around the mixers, networking groups, and other events. It is also a person other people go to for referrals. I’m guessing that as you read this, you are already identifying a few Cheerleaders in your circle. It is time to get to know them. You will need to do the following for your Popular Cheerleader:
Get to know your Cheerleader. It is possible that you’ve identified this person, but don’t really know her/him. Contact your Cheerleader and ask for a chance to get to know them better over a coffee or lunch. If you have a mutual friend or colleague, use that person as an ice breaker.
Make sure they are involved in your Buzz. If your Buzz efforts reached only a single person, it better be a Cheerleader. Let’s do better than that, but the point is that you want your Cheerleader to take the energy of your Buzz events and spread that around his/her circle.
Make sure they know you and your business. Take your Cheerleader on a tour of your facility. Give him/her samples. Tell your Story… the way you came to be in this business. Send your Cheerleader off with an experience to share with his/her network. Take the time this week to get to know your Popular Cheerleader.
A Great Product
All of this terrific Word of Mouth Marketing will not do anything for you if you do not have the components of a great product in place. There are two key components to providing a product worthy of spreading the word:
Quality. Your product must exceed expectations. The key here is setting up the right expectations through your marketing communications. Your product must be positioned properly so that your customers know what to expect. Then, you must exceed those expectations.
Customer Service. WOW your customers with value added services, extreme attention to their experience, or a unique priority on how you deliver your product.
However you decide to generate maximum BUZZ, make certain that your customers’ satisfaction is your number one focus.If you are able to support an excellent, expectation -smashing product with top-notch customer service, word will spread like wildfire by the word of mouth of your market!
Stuart Preston is the Owner of MyBusiness Advisors, Creator of the MyBusinessDashboard, and Author of “Small Business Fitness”