When it comes to people telling others about your business, favorable word-of-mouth spreads slowly, but unfavorable word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire. Therefore, when it comes to negative word of mouth comments, it stands to reason that you should first do everything in your power to monitor what is being said about your business. Next, you need to approach any negative discussions quickly and decisively to minimize negative word-of-mouth. The main message of this article is to encourage positive word of mouth marketing. Since positive word of mouth messages spread more slowly than negative messages, businesses need to be much more proactive when it comes to creating positive word of mouth.
You’ve probably heard of the game « Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon ». The premise of the game suggests that every living thing in the world is within six paces or less of each other so that a chain of « friend of a friend » statements can be made to connect two people on one. maximum of six. If it only takes six steps to reach someone else in the world, imagine how many people are in the early stages that can be tapped into for word of mouth referrals.
Word of mouth connector levels
Therefore, the first concept to understand is that human networks contain four levels of connection.
These are your friends and colleagues with whom you spend a lot of time. Since we spend a lot of time with these people, they probably already know the intimate details of your business, and close relationships share many of the same connections and therefore are not a good source of new word of mouth referrals.
These are the coworkers you meet several times a year in the break room singing a happy birthday to a coworker or are friends of friends you see at parties. Although you know their names and what they do for a living, you probably don’t know much more about them. Therefore, weak connections expand your network and are a great place for word of mouth referrals. It is advisable, rather than ignoring weak connections, to proactively contact them. Following up with weak ties and showing an interest in them and what is important to them will help you build a closer relationship. A closer relationship opens up their network of friends to you as potential word of mouth referrals.
They were once close friends or co-workers who moved or changed jobs and you lost contact. Just one phone call can make you pick up where you left off and feel like close friends again. Since the dormant connections have left your circle of tight connections, it is very likely that they have many tight and weak connections that are completely unfamiliar to you, but they all share a common connection in the dormant connection. Therefore, dormant connections are an ideal source of word of mouth referrals. Following up on old close relationships that are now dormant can rekindle the connection, which can often lead to many new connections to explore and turn into referrals.
These are connections that you have not yet come across and represent stages of separation four to six in the six degrees of separation theory. All foreigners are not created equal. While some strangers may have no connection with you, some strangers may have a connection with you through dormant or weak connections. Strangers connected to dormant and weak connections are potential contacts that can be tapped for word of mouth referrals.
For the weak, dormant, and even strangers who have some degree of relative separation, I recommend that you actively create opportunities with them to begin a dialogue. As you build a relationship with these relationships, share what your business is doing and ask them to like your Facebook page. If they become customers, ask them to speak to their network if they are happy with your product or service. If they need an incentive, tell them you’ll send them a free giveaway or a discount on future purchases if they mention your name. If you don’t ask, they’re unlikely to share their experience.
In most cases, a business with a physical location has weak ties to its neighbors. The same can be said with complementary businesses in your area. So another great tactic is to visit these companies and provide them with coupons on your products or services. Encourage them to share these coupons with their customers and agree to do the same with your customers.
For example, if you are opening a new cafe and there is a hair salon next door, print a coupon that allows the owner to come in for a « buy one, get one free » (BOGO) coffee at your coffee store. This way the businesses next door can help market your new business and the BOGO coupon will encourage the recipient of the coupon to bring someone from their network as well. Double score.
Types of word of mouth marketing
The next thing to understand when it comes to word of mouth marketing is that it comes in four different flavors. Each variation of word of mouth marketing has unique characteristics and should be approached in different ways. Here is a high-level breakdown of the most common forms of modern word of mouth marketing types:
Referral word of mouth marketing, a strategy to encourage passionate customers, social agents, and recommends referring their network directly to your company. Clients not only seek referrals from sources they deem credible, but they act upon them. Some companies create a referral program in-house and others try to manage it manually through email and other basic systems. Successful companies automate the process by using a single system to enroll, track, manage and reward their ambassadors.
Affiliate word of mouth marketing is a transaction that occurs between a business and an entity where the business receives leads in exchange for a commission. Affiliate marketing is effective because brands specify the cost of a specific action taken. The challenge with affiliate marketing is that brand recognition has a big impact on success.
Influencing word of mouth marketing uses a network of influencers who have large captive followers. Someone with a million followers on Facebook has the power to create interest in a product. Businesses can see big results by getting influencers to talk about their products or services. Most companies select influencers based on their audience and reach out to them individually, and track the agenda through spreadsheets and emails.
Partner word of mouth marketing is a strategy mainly used in B2B which connects two brands to share one or both brands with the networks of the other. Engaging and building positive brand relationships with prospects through channel partners, value-added resellers, and agencies produce immediate results similar to customer referrals. Most partner word of mouth marketing efforts are loosely handled using many systems that are not exactly designed exclusively for partner marketing such as Google Docs, Spreadsheets, and Email .
Do you actively encourage your customers and partners to talk about your business?