Many companies underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Word-of-mouth marketing campaigns can be the most effective and efficient tools in building and sustaining a customer base. Think about it: When you want a good pizza or need a cheap dry cleaner, whom do you ask? If your first instinct is to ask a trusted friend or neighbor, then you can understand where I’m headed. If the most trusted source for good pizza and cheap dry cleaning is a friend or neighbor, then why wouldn’t it be for good health insurance or a trustworthy bank? According to a recent New York Times poll, a “recommendation from a friend” is the most credible source of information.
A company’s best critic is not a magazine journalist, but rather its existing customers. The value comes in a company’s relationship with its customers. Think about the last time you rewarded a top customer with something more than the services you charge for? If you cannot recall, or it’s been more than a couple of months, then you need to step it up. When customers are celebrated or rewarded, it’s probable that they’ll spread the news. Sharing news, and even bragging, is part of human nature, and we all do it.
How to reward or celebrate a customer:
- Provide, as a bonus, a small service that you would typically charge for. This way, the customer feels appreciated and valued.
- Celebrate top clients by sending out a special thanks or “top customer profile” — you can package the information into an article or video that’s easily distributed on the Web. This creates awareness and interest for your product or service.
- Many companies could benefit from surveys that get at the heart of what customers like and dislike about your services. An easy and inexpensive tool for online surveys is www.surveymonkey.com. Using online surveys is an easy and effective way of getting valuable customer insight. To ensure customers engage in the surveys, you might want to offer a small prize to every 100th surveyor.
- Another great way to initiate a word-of-mouth campaign is through the implementation of a referral campaign. Referral campaigns not only reward the customer, but in the end, the customers are doing the selling for you. Referral campaigns are simple to implement, and this type of personal selling is highly effective. Consider low-cost methods of rewarding your customers for referrals. This could be a discount on existing services or added bonuses.
Remember, you have to take the good with the bad. When you receive negative feedback, attend to it accordingly. Respond to the negative comments, and find a way to fix problems and learn from your customers. Plus, the inclusion of negative comments makes the testimonials more believable to readers. Granted, it’s best to have more good than bad, so it’s in your best interest to make your customers happy.