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Is Word of Mouth Dead?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Is Word Of Mouth Dead?

This is something any business can do, but it must first begin with really understanding what your customer cares about so much that they’ll tell everyone else.

Word of mouth advertising is still the most powerful, effective type of advertising there is, but it's the only kind you can't just buy by the page or by the minute.

It has to be created, stimulated, and nurtured with truly creative techniques.

Nothing you can ever say about you, no matter how well you say it, can have as much impact and credibility as something a disinterested third party says about you.

And there are some things you simply can't say graciously about yourself, that others can say.

And there are three examples, each of which has a key you must include if you are to grow your word-of-mouth advertising.

First is a single, basic secret to stimulating a high rate of word of mouth advertising. That secret comes from the Disney companies.

Back in the day at Disney parks, this basic secret was implemented in the forms of cleanliness and authenticity. Today, when first-time visitors to Disneyland and DisneyWorld are surveyed and asked what sticks in their mind most about their visit, the overwhelming number one answer is the cleanliness of the parks.

Disney marketing pros then understand how this translates into real life. Harry and Marge go back to Dubuque and tell their friends, “You can't believe how clean the park was.” Then four more families from Dubuque pile money into motor homes and bring their money to the mouse.

Because they understand this, the Disney people think of park cleanliness as marketing, not just maintenance.

This is something any business can do, but it must first begin with really understanding what your customer cares about so much that they’ll tell everyone else.

In a retail type business, excellence and creativity in the store environment and in customer service are most likely to stimulate referrals. I know a dentist, for example, who 10x’d his practice in just 24 months without increasing his external ad budget by even a dollar. He identified 700 different things to change in the office environment and in patient communications. Little things mean a lot.

Secondly, if you have direct contact with your customers, start staging events where loyal customers are motivated to bring their friends to you.

A nightclub has an annual anniversary party with huge tents in the parking lot. Free food and free entertainment, closed to the public, but open to their customers and guests that have been invited by the customers.

A chiropractor I know hosts a big Christmas party each year with a buffet and a dance band open to all of his patients and any family members or friends they wish to bring.

Another doctor uses the same idea with a July barbecue held in his big backyard each year.

Thirdly, consider the second party gift certificate idea. Here's how this works.

You're a satisfied regular customer of a clothing store. The owner of the store says to you, “John, as you know, most of our customers come as referrals from other customers and we appreciate that and are trying to encourage it this month. We're doing something interesting that you might want to help us with and be able to do a favor for your friends too.”

The store owner then gives you a $10 gift certificate negotiable only by a second party that you, the customer, address it to and sign it over to. This idea works extremely well for just about any kind of retail business service, business, home products, business restaurants, stores, beauty parlors, carpet, cleaning companies and so on.

But if you use this idea, as well as any of the others we’ve discussed, you’ll want to follow it up with recognition and appreciation. Here’s why.

There's a secret about customers or clients who refer - the person who refers once can and will refer many more people many more times if motivated to do so. Once a customer or client has referred someone to your business, then that source of referral should be mined like the gold mine that it is.

According to research by the American management association, the average satisfied customer only tells 3 other people about the satisfactory experience. Moving that person from telling 3 to telling 50 does require some definite action on your part. That action needs to focus on the giving of recognition and appreciation.

When a satisfied customer sends someone to you, the sender should immediately receive some recognition and appreciation, possibly a quick Thank You note or telephone call (at bare minimum). That should happen right away.

Subsequently some type of thank you gift is usually appropriate and effective. We send steaks books, clocks, calculators, small electronic items, knife sets, all sorts of things. I recommend gifts that you do not ordinarily sell and a different gift each time the person refers. You will really be amazed at the positive results from this kind of action.

Again, it's interesting to note that a basic success principle often discussed in personal development context is also a marketing strategy - it's called, “the attitude of gratitude.”

In short, word of mouth advertising is an advertising activity and it should be given the focus it deserves, and it’s just one of many tactics that are FREE to No BS Letter subscribers!

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