When I was a kid my father would tell me, “Never brag about yourself. If you excel at what you do, others will brag for you.”
If you think about advertising, it’s a lot like bragging, isn’t it? Except, in this case, you’re paying to talk about yourself and get your differentiator in your audience’s face. Sometimes, prospective customers get tired of hearing us talk about ourselves and if that’s the case, what alternatives do we have?
Enter word of mouth marketing. If you don’t have a word of mouth strategy already defined, you’ll want to do that after reading this article.
What is word of mouth marketing and why should I invest in it?
You’re probably wondering, “What is word of mouth marketing and how can it help me brag less about myself while inspiring others to talk about my business?” Dear internet reader, we’re glad you asked.
Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia defines word of mouth as:
Jay Baer, of Convince & Convert, takes it further and breaks word of mouth down into two buckets: proactive and reactive. How does he define the two?
Reactive word of mouth: You can think of reactive word of mouth as similar to referrals. When someone is looking for a solution to their needs, they may ask their friends and family for a recommendation. Their family and friends react to their question by recommending a solution or business that they’ve used before and enjoyed.
Proactive word of mouth: Proactive word of mouth is generally unasked for. An example of proactive word of mouth is when someone is so happy with an experience or service they tell all their friends about it — even if their friends aren’t asking for those details and recommendations — they’re proactively sharing that experience or recommendation.
Is one form of word of mouth, either proactive or reactive, better than the other? Both are great! Both will do wonders for your business. But if we had to rank them, we’d give the edge to proactive word of mouth. That’s because proactive word of mouth isn’t asked for — those people are willingly taking time out of their day to shout your praises and share your product just because they like you. When someone is that happy with your service, you know you’re doing something right.
Does word of mouth marketing make a difference to my bottom line?
Developing a word of mouth strategy for your business can affect your bottom line in two ways.
- Saves you money on paid advertising
- Remember, if you make your customers’ experiences great, they will brag for you and about you. (Subpar and good experiences won’t cut it. Work to impress.) This could lead to a reduction in how much you spend on traditional advertising.
- Brings in new business.
- In his study, Chatter Matters, Jay Baer discovered that “83% of Americans are more interested in purchasing a product or service when they’ve received a verbal recommendation from a friend or family member.” You need to kindle those conversations and make your business worth talking about!
How do I increase word of mouth about my business?
That’s a really good question, and we don’t blame you if you’re stumped. You can smile and thank every customer that walks in your door or visits your site, but that’s not enough. You can give them a good shopping experience, or a good website experience, yet that’s not enough either.
In order for people to talk about your business, they need a good reason. Better yet, they need a great reason. Pleasantries and run-of-the-mill good experiences aren’t noteworthy — they’re expected. Ready for some good news? You don’t need to deck your store or site out in wall-to-wall neon colors and pull outrageous stunts to get attention. All you need to do is create a “talk trigger.”
What’s a talk trigger?
Jay defines a talk trigger as “a strategic, operational differentiator that compels word of mouth, reliably creating customer chatter on an ongoing basis.” Your talk trigger should be something you do, not something you say, to set yourself apart and make yourself, specifically your business, a worthwhile topic of conversation.
In his book, Jay uses DoubleTree hotels by Hilton as an example of a business with a great talk trigger. Whenever someone checks into those hotels, they’re given a fresh chocolate chip cookie. What does this one action do for them in return? It gets about 25 thousand customers talking about their hotel on social media, in a positive light, per day. If you’ve ever found yourself talking about DoubleTree’s cookies, we hate to break it to you, but you were the walking talking advertisement for the hotel. And we bet you were happy to do it!
What makes for a good talk trigger? To explain, Jay lays out the four Rs:
- Remarkable – Give them something worth talking about, and remarkable doesn’t necessarily mean BIG.
- Relevant – If it’s not relevant, it’s not memorable.
- Reasonable – You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car! Doesn’t sound so reasonable now does it?
- Repeatable – Talk triggers don’t work if only one or two people talk about them. They must be repeatable.
Can I create a word of mouth worthy experience on my website?
We believe that you can, yes. However, in order to create a word of mouth worthy experience on your website, you’re going to have to cover your bases. Here are our some of our top recommendations to make your website worth talking about.
- Design your site with your user’s experience in mind.
- How will they navigate your site? Are all the buttons visible and working on both desktop and mobile? Taking the time to work through these little kinks improves the end user experience, and will make them think more kindly of your site.
- Provide good content.
- Good content is what keeps people on your site. A lack of it won’t inspire conversation.
- Make sure you have the right hosting package.
- If you expect a lot of website traffic, don’t choose the skimpiest hosting package. The more traffic your website receives the more bandwidth you need to provide a seamless, glitch-free experience to your visitors.
- Know your audience.
- You can’t provide a relevant talk trigger (remember the 4 Rs?) if you don’t know your audience. Get to know what motivates them and what they enjoy, and you’ll find it easier to speak their language and market to them effectively.
What defines your word of mouth marketing strategy?
Your word of mouth strategy will probably look a little different from your neighbors’ and your competitors’ strategies — and that’s ok! People don’t talk about things that are commonplace and mundane. So let your differences shine.
Have you implemented any talk triggers or word of mouth strategies? We’d love to hear about what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. Let us know in the comments!