Strong word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. We all talk about it but very few of us experience any significant benefit from it.
There are two primary targets for word-of-mouth spread:
- Existing customers – very few will actually talk about you
- New customers – delight them, and they will want to share the word
Most of us fall into the trap of only targeting our existing customers with word-of-mouth. You have a relationship with them, they’ve been able to see how you act and behave over time and they have enough confidence in you to tell others. It makes sense right?
Surprisingly, most of your word-of-mouth will actually come from new customers that have never before interacted with you. As humans, we prefer to share exciting new experiences that show us to be knowledgeable and at the forefront of news.
Encouraging new customers to share
The key to having new customers tell others about your business is to focus on that first experience.
Think about the last business you told someone about. The experience in dealing with them was more enjoyable than you had expected, right?
You can’t be average. Average is word-of-mouth’s worst enemy. The customer needs to feel delighted and you need to exceed their expectations.
How you do that is up to you. It might be through exceptional customer service, a unique sales process or with quirky branding. I’m not fussed – as long as it’s not an average experience!
Encouraging existing customers to share after all these years
There’s more to encouraging existing customers to spread the word about your business than finding a group to target. If they’ve been buying from you without sharing for years, why would they do so now?
You need to give existing customers something new to talk about. If you combine something new and worth talking about with an incentive to share (such as a voucher, free upgrades, etc.) you’ll get a significant increase in word-of-mouth.
A word-of-mouth program
For years, businesses like Foxtel have thrived on programs built into their sales cycle that incentivize new customers to spread word-of-mouth. In Foxtel’s case, they offer a $50 credit to any Foxtel customer that successfully encourages a friend to subscribe.
They know their lifetime customer value and have calculated that they can easily afford an acquisition cost of $50 when the average new customer will spend over $800 a year on the service.
Once you’ve enhanced your buying experience, think about what you can afford to give away in return for a sale and work referral requests into your new sales processes.