14 New Rules of Word of Mouth Advertising for Small Business Marketing
Talk to almost anyone working in, managing or who owns a small to medium sized business and they will tell you that word of mouth advertising is their best form of advertising. This is very true.
Word of mouth advertising, as good as it can, be has three drawbacks: one, it moves very slowly; two, it depends on your customers to spread the word; and three, word of mouth advertising is a double edge sword. A recent study found that a satisfied customer will only tell three to four people about a good buying experience. On the other hand, an unhappy customer will tell 15 to 20 people about their bad experience.
There are two basic laws that govern word of mouth marketing:
- Law #1 – control your word of mouth advertising or it will control you.
- Law #2 – you have to find a way to amplify word of mouth advertising for it to have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
Gathering testimonials is an effective way for you to accomplish the above. A testimonial is a written success story that you can spread to prospects on a very large scale. If you incorporate testimonials in your promotional marketing like postcards, brochures, on your website or in your catalogs that is one way to control and amplify your word of mouth advertising.
The following is a list of guidelines and rules to help you to collect, develop and use customer testimonials in your small business marketing:
- Always ask for testimonials. Don’t be shy about asking for a good testimonial to be used in your small business marketing. You never know unless you ask and if you’ve done your job as a company, odds are you know what the answer will be before you even ask.
- Print up success story forms. Having a success story form at hand will make it easier for your employees to ask for testimonials and for your customers to give you a good testimonial.
- Make sure your testimonials are real. False or misleading testimonials will spread bad word of mouth advertising like wildfire. Remember people tend to tell 15 to 20 people about a bad experience they had. Combine this with the reach of the Internet and you can see how using false or misleading testimonials could back fire on a very large scale.
- Know your audience. People want to hear good things from other people they can relate to. If you are targeting middle age men, do not use testimonials from middle age women.
- Get a photo. When possible have photos next to the people giving the testimonial. This adds to the creditability of your testimonial.
- Have your sales staff asks customers for testimonials. Your sales staff most likely has developed a close relationship with your customers. Teach them how to ask for a good testimonial and make sure they do it on a regular basis.
- Use testimonials in lots of different places. If you mail a postcard, have a testimonial on it. Put them on your marketing brochures. Print posters to display in your office that have testimonials on them. Put testimonials on your web pages and blogs. Remember, you are trying to spread good word of mouth on a large scale.
- Focus on success stories. The best way to present success stories is first by presenting the problem the customers was having followed by how your business helped them with the problem. Encourage your customers to use their testimonials as a way to showcase how your product, service and employees helped make their life easier.
- Strike when the customer is happiest. This one goes without saying. Don’t ask a customer for a glowing testimonial if you’ve just bungled their order.
- Use testimonials as a sales tool. Especially when you’re selling to a specific customer set, use merchandise specific testimonials for other prospects that fall into the same category. Testimonials are very effective on sales sheets, brochures and product catalogs.
- Use video testimonials where possible in small business marketing. We now live in the era of YouTube. Use those flip cameras to easily record video testimonials of your customers saying nice things about your company and services. You can then upload the testimonials to a YouTube page or on your website and blog site.
- Use social media as a way to get testimonials and create interaction. Spread your testimonials around on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Offer up rewards or freebies on glowing testimonials. Customers give you testimonials because you did a good job taking care of them. Reward them and take care of them even more so that they rave about you. It’s not about buying them off, it’s about creating a relationship based on value.
- And finally, don’t forget to ask for the referrals. Don’t get so caught up in getting testimonials that you don’t ask the customer if they know of any other person that would benefit from your company’s services.
Referrals are part two of word of mouth advertising for small business marketing. Drill anyone in your company who has direct contact with customers how to ask for referrals and what to do with the once they receive a referral.
Use Care to Share referral cards. A Care to Share referral card works well for service type industries. These cards help you reward customers for sending you referrals and give you a way to track the referrals as well.
When the customer is happy is the best time to ask him to write a few words about his experience and also whom he knows who would be a prospect for your services.
If you got in a program of gathering testimonials and asking for referrals, you would have control of your word of mouth advertising and a way to expand and create more new customers to buy from your business.
Combine word of mouth with an effective direct mail program and you will see your sales rocket to new levels.
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