3 Tips to Leverage Word of Mouth Marketing

Identify Your Most Loyal Customers

Certainly for a customer to refer you to another they must be overly satisfied, exceptionally loyal, and willing to put their own name on the line. Providing good products and service are simply not enough. These customers have reached the pinacle of customer loyalty to you and/or your business. They are more than likely within your top 5% of customers. The first step towards optimizing WOMM is identifying who these customers are. Maybe it’s their frequency of purchase, volume of dollars spent, number of orders or perhaps it’s a customer’s long-standing history of doing business with your company. Whatever the loyal-defining metric, take time to recognize who they are and note their unique profile characteristics. Do you notice any similarities among your most loyal and valuable customers? Why is their experience exceptional? What do they keep coming back for? Will they act as evangelists for your business completely unsolicited and without incentives? What are they capable of?

To understand what a referral is capable of, you don’t have further to go than an average wedding or funeral. The number of people that attend one of these events is usually a good indication of that person’s inner circle of influence. Some call it the “Power of 250” or the “Rule of 52”. Whatever average number you subscribe to, each individual is capable of influencing some number, albeit ~50 – 250, of other individuals within their inner circle. WOMM is exponential! (…if those friends tell two friends, and those friends tell two friends… you get the idea.)

Give Them Something to Talk About

In the February, 2007 issue of Buisness Currents I shared information on how to develop a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, by first thinking about a new prospective customer that you’d like to attract to your business and seeing if you can answer the following question:

“Why should I choose your business/product/service versus any/every other competitive option available to me?”

WOMM answers the same question except the source is different. Instead of coming from you and your marketing efforts, it is communicated by your most loyal customers. Having a strong, defendable USP – and delivering ‘above and beyond’ on that promise (and consistently) — will keep your word-of-mouth message uniform, ubiquitous and omni-present among your referring evangelists. For example, I’d like to share with you that I just recently got an outstanding deal on new shelves for my office from Target (where I should “Expect More and Pay Less”). Due to well laid out isles and a friendly staffer that dropped what she was doing to personally escort me, I was able to find the granola I was looking for easily at my local Publix supermarket (where “Shopping is a Pleasure”). And, just under 15 minutes on the phone with a well-informed and courteous sales person from Geico really did save me more than 15% on my motorcycle insurance. There, I just used WOMM again!

The Extra Mile…

Sometimes it’s the little things or “doing something extra” that helps support WOMM to illustrate a competitive advantage or a customer benefit. For example, the other evening my family and I celebrated my brother’s birthday at LongHorn Steakhouse on 41. As our luscious steaks arrived at our table so too did a courteous and professional manager apologizing for the slight delay to be expected for my father’s steak. Before he could even think about complaining (little did they know they know my father was a former restaurant owner), they offered him drinks and an appetizer and agreed not to charge him for the delayed dinner. Before we knew it, his dinner arrived and we were all eating together and talking about how well they handled that situation before it could have potentially ruined our celebratory evening. It was truly an illustration of the restaurant’s commitment to customers, exceptional service and desire to provide an enjoyable experience. I told about ten people already and now I’m writing about it. Word-of-Mouth travels fast!

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