The concept of word-of-mouth marketing has stood the test of time. Even through multiple generations, word-of-mouth remains one of the most powerful forms of marketing in existence.
What makes this idea trickier is that it’s not something a business can just buy, like they would an ad. Sure, there are options such as influencer marketing, which has also proven to be a powerful tool. But how does a brand take advantage of the advertising alternative that’s completely free?
How Reviews Can Help or Hurt
Let’s start with one of the most well-known form of word of mouth marketing: reviews. Most business interactions are reviewable by customers, whether it be a sale or just a service provided. Reviews have two effects on a business: generating additional customers (or warning them away, if the business hasn’t done its job) and boosting visibility.
But what if the reviews just aren’t coming in? Perhaps the customers do not realize how valuable their opinion is, simply because they’ve never actually been asked for it. Start there. Ask for feedback after each transaction, or offer a satisfaction survey at the end of a service. Encourage customers to leave reviews on Yelp or Google. Each review has the potential to reach new customers.
On the flip side, be aware of the best ways to handle a negative review. Negative reviews can happen for a variety of reasons, but hopefully they are not a trend. Negative reviews need to be dealt with proactively and individually.
A simple acknowledgement of error by the business is often sufficient to soothe ruffled feathers, but there are times when management will need to make things right. Remember: a negative review has a much stronger impact than a positive one, particularly when it comes to word of mouth and reputation.
Influence, but Not Just with Influencers
While 'influencer marketing' is a buzzword, any marketing professional worth his or her salt has at least a working knowledge of influencer campaigns and their effectiveness as a marketing tool.
Why are influencer campaigns so successful? Think about it: the idea plays off of the concept of word-of-mouth marketing. By enlisting the support or endorsement of an influential person — a celebrity, athlete, or community leader, for example — the business engages more with potential customers. These customers are more likely to trust a person who they personally relate to as they would a friend.
But an influencer campaign isn’t the only way to leverage influence for marketing results. By engaging with the local community, a business can build a larger following for a bigger reaching mission than simply selling products.
Getting involved in the local community can boost a business’ public perception and, as a result, its reach. Keep these efforts genuine, and watch the natural influence of the business itself increase on its own. By having a positive impact on the community, conversations involving the business will be more positive, increasing the value of word of mouth marketing even more.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR