Bet you don’t have a 2011 word of mouth marketing strategy

small business word of mouth marketing strategy

Right about now, if you are anything like me, you are using this time between Christmas and New Year to do some planning and research and finish off preparations for marketing and developing your business over the course of 2011.

However, in the mix of strategies that you are putting in place for 2011, I would be willing to bet that you are missing one of the best and most effective marketing strategies known to business:

Word of Mouth Marketing

Why? Because, I believe, that while 100% of businesses understand the power of a referral, recommendation and good word of mouth marketing, 99% of all companies leave it to chance, believing that if they just do a great job that people will talk about them and share them with their friends.

This may happen but it does seem to me that we may be leaving a lot to chance as not having a specific word of mouth marketing strategy could result in you developing a ‘best kept secret’. Like Oscar Wilde said in The Picture of Dorian Gray:

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Some of you may may have a referral, newsletter and proactive customer contact programme in place already and that’s great. However, I think that’s not enough and is still leaving too much to chance. Real word of moth takes time and planning to generate results.

So, where to get started developing a word of mouth marketing strategy and plan and how to do it?

Well, I would suggest a great place to start getting ideas of how to build up your word of mouth is via Andy Sernovitz’s book Word of Mouth Marketing and his blog: Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That. I’m in the middle of reading his book and it’s a really interesting and informative read, stacked full of great tips and ideas. In the book, Andy lays out his five T’s of word of mouth marketing that he uses to set the base of a word of mouth marketing plan. The five T’s are:

1. Talkers

  • Find people who will talk about you
    • E.g. fans, friends, volunteers, customers, bloggers, influencers, employees, partners, neighbours etc

2. Topics

  • Give people a reason to talk
    • E.g. special offers, great service, cool product, silliness, great ad, new feature, charity donations, community activities etc

3. Tools

  • Help the message spread faster and farther
    • E.g. tell a friend forms, viral email, blogs, handouts, samples, coupons, online discussions, introduction cards, special invites etc

4. Taking part

  • Join the conversation
    • E.g. reply to comments, post on blogs, join discussions, answer email, offer personal service, call people up, arrange meetings, facilitate introductions etc

5. Tracking

  • Measure and understand what people are saying
    • E.g. search blogs, read message boards, use simple feedback forms and surveys, listen to feedback, use listening and measurement tools etc

Once you have gone through your 5 T’s then you can start to think about what are the key things that need to get done to start to make this happen.

Word of caution here, I would suggest that you spend most of your time thinking about, figuring out and identifying who your ‘Talkers’ are. Like all successful marketing efforts, if we figure out who our customers are it dramatically increases our chances of reaching the right people at the right time and, therefore, generating success.

Second word of caution: Don’t fall into the trap of figuring out who you would like your ‘Talkers’ to be, figure out who your ‘Talkers’ really are.

Who do you think are the ‘Talkers’ in your business?

Note: I write these posts because I am passionate about great service and helping companies get more value and growth out of the customer relationships they already have. If you’d like to find out more about how I do that then get in touch here. Alternatively, sign up for my monthly newsletter here.

Thanks to Pricklebush for the image.

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