You can create word-of-mouth for your brand. You can do it yourself. In fact, you should do it yourself. Create as much word-of-mouth marketing for your business yourself. Then turn to an agency.
Word-of-mouth is the most effective means to advertise your brand. Too much data exists to recite here shows customer word-of-mouth is more effective, more cost-effective.
How do you do it? How do you inspire your customers to tell others the glory of your story? Do you hire an agency to make a funny cartoon? Or a silly video? Or is forward to a friend links on an email campaign good enough?
Remember this: Word-of-mouth starts with your story. Your brand story. That’s your story you give your customers to tell for you, about you, from their experience with you. It’s an unique story. You create a new version with each customer and each experience they have with you.
It’s a collaborative effort. They bring their story (their needs, their desires, the meaning they hope you provide, the solution you need to provide, their expectations, frustrations.) And you bring your story (your employees, their commitment, the resources you provide, your partners, your vendors, your purpose.) The two stories meld, or don’t, each time you two meet. Email, phone, website forum, ad, press release, little league sponsorship, service problem, billing error, lost order, missed shipment…cool innovation, surprises, testimonials.
Where your two stories meet is where word-of-mouth is created. Every time.
You can only control your story. Here’s a list of some, not all, the things you can do to create word-of-mouth for your business. And do it consistently.
Find out what your customers say now. Survey your customers with The Ultimate Question Survey . That’s a 3-question survey.
The first question is this: Would you recommend us to your friends and colleagues? On a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being very…how likely would be to recommend us to a friend or colleague? Their answers to this and the other 2 questions equal your Net Promoter Score .
Are you generating Net Promoters or Net Detractors? You should find that out before you create a word-of-mouth campaign that will accelerate the spread of your story.
Fred Reichheld wrote The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth . Buy it. Read it. Do it.
Do more of what your customers like. That survey will tell you why and when and where they recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Do more of that which inspires them to tell more.
Stop doing what makes them unhappy. The survey will tell you if and how you make them unhappy. Stop doing that.
Ask your employees. They write your story every day. They make it a best-seller, or not. All day. Use the same survey for them.
Do the same for them. Do more of what makes them recommend their company to their friends. Stop doing anything else.
Review your P&L reports. Are your sales going up or down? A word-of-mouth, viral ad, campaign will accelerate the results.
Why? More people will tell your story. And if that story is a story of a company whose customers are abandoning it, then more people will hear that story. If your sales are going up, find out why. Do more of that.
Review your sales-by-item reports. See above. This is the granular detail, the sentences and punctuation, of the story your customers are telling about you and their experiences with you.
Hire A-Players. Your employees, your number one asset, are your brand-builders. Hire the best. Then you have the asset to create the best. Brad Smart and his Topgrading  methods are sure-fire ways to find, keep and grow A-players. And remove C-Players.
Remove C-Players. Your company has changed. Your story has matured. The A-Players who told your story so eloquently now stumble and mumble. Or, the C-Player auditioned beautifully. And now you realize they are illiterate. Motivate, train or coach the C-Player to become an A-player. Or remove them. You owe your A-players the best colleagues. And only the best colleagues.
Motivate your employees with incentives that matter to them. Ask them what is meaningful. You may be surprised at what and how little it will cost. And how important that incentive is to their life. Then make it possible for them to achieve those incentives.
Connect their meaningful incentives to the goals of their company. Share those goals with your A-Players. Explain why they are important to reach. To do that you must answer these three questions your employees will have:
- What’s in it for me?
- Why should I care?
- Why should I believe?
Stay out of their way. Do your employees generate revenue? Do they lower expenses? Do they make each other happy? Do they make customers happy? Stay out of their way while they do that. Stop them when they stop. You have incentivized them. It should be…easy.
Give them the tools and resources they need. That means ask them. That means understand their day, their task, the tools you have provided them. Understand how these tools and resources meet your goals. Or what you need, instead. And then find better tools and resources.
Make employee reviews a celebration. Celebrate their strengths and accomplishments. Find ways and tools and areas where their strengths are on display.
Celebrate failure. Ok, not like Yippee we crashed the server today! But, acknowledge it, allow it, recognize it. And learn from it. That’s a key step to creating a culture of innovation, of constantly generating new ideas. Cultures that allow for failure are cultures that allow engagement. Engagement can add 3-5% to your operating results. Is that worth it?
Use social media yourself. The operative word is yourself. Oh sure, it’s awkward. You stumble. You make mistakes. That shows you are a real, authentic, human being. We humans connect with our colleagues: real, authentic human beings. And, the social media community is supportive and forgiving where the efforts are genuine, offered by real authentic human beings.
There is no message more unique and genuine than the voice of a CEO in their own blog, in their own writing. Write your own blog. (For goodness sakes, write your own blog. Otherwise skip it. )
Or use Twitter. Join the millions of people who’ve looked like fools at least once in their life. It’s a party. And join them as they connect with millions of customers, prospects, partners, vendors, ideas, innovators solutions.
Know your community. What do they need? What solutions are they looking for? Find and deliver. Be a part of their lives. Jeffrey Summers, CEO and founder of Restaurant Coaching Solutions LLC , shared that in a conversation we had recently.
These things, and more, form your story. Finish this list first. Then look at the story you’ve written. And if you consistently pursue and execute them, your story can be consistent. Consistent stories build consistent word-of-mouth.
Then see if you need outside help to accelerate the spread of your story through the mouths and communities of your customers. And employees.
There’s more. But this is a good start. After all, this is a blog. This is a conversation. What do you do to create word-of-mouth for your business?
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About the author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of a small business. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit .