Word of Mouth – The Art of Referrals
When it comes to marketing, we are asked to segment advertising channels into ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’. A range of channels can be utilised to target any audience, be that print, pay per click, AdWords and, of course, SEO. However, there is one thing that will aid any campaign and marketing strategy you choose to adopt and that is word of mouth (WOM).
Psychologically, we are programmed to model behaviour in order to learn. For example, we usually learn how to walk and talk by copying our parents. So, who teaches us how to shop?
We are all guilty of envying a friend or family member’s object and then making plans to purchase the item ourselves. In one of my earliest memories, I remember my friend Samantha had a Barbie Dream House with lights that turned on! The following Christmas it was number one on my list to Santa. Even at the Webcentral office, it is clear to see that WOM is in full swing with staff members always asking ‘Which bike do I buy, man?’ or ‘Where should I get my nails done?”.
If I think about myself, I am more likely to use a product or service that has already been recommended to me by a friend. Trusting a company we haven’t purchased from before can be daunting, while purchasing on the advice of a friend generates an attractive opportunity.
You have the power
It could seem that WOM is out of our control. How do we gain the attention of these social influencers or trend setters? There are actually many ways to create buzz about your business through WOM. I’ve listed some tips below:
- Develop a referral structure that rewards your clients for getting their friends on board. This is especially useful for niche businesses or products that involve high involvement buying decisions. For example, a business that transports horses will have some very happy clients. These clients would be involved in friendship groups and communities that require the same services. By communicating with these potential clients through your happy client, you have a higher potential of securing more business and, therefore, more profit.
- Businesses that target those who are active on social media can benefit by utilising a WOM social media strategy. A competition or reward structure that encourages clients to share their happy experiences and photos on social media will create a buzz, and can lead to your product/service being extremely desirable. For example, a pizza shop that offers a free dessert to anyone who shares their photo and experience on social media – making sure they like the business’s page and ‘Check In’.
- Gyms are notorious for asking for ‘10 friends’ phone numbers for a chance to win’. No one really enjoys being hassled by someone they have never met before, although this strategy can be altered to encourage happy clients to provide you with leads.
- Most importantly, good reviews on your Google+ page are excellent for anyone searching your product/service and also are great for search engine optimisation. We highly recommend putting a link to your Google+ and the review section of Google Maps.
- For new businesses trying to break into an industry, utilise the services of professional social influencers. These influencers could be high end bloggers, Instagram account holders with millions of followers, or even celebrities who have been given free samples.