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Word of mouth: why it’s still the golden rule of marketing – Resolution Design

Getting your customers to recommend your business to others takes work, says Emma Hart of Resolution Design

As small business owners and SMEs, you will be aware of the benefits that word-of-mouth marketing can bring.  A good word from an independent source is powerful, it costs nothing and generates genuine positivity within the business. Word-of-mouth, the original social media, is hugely valuable because it is earned organically rather than sponsored.
Whilst effective measuring is difficult, here are my handy hints on fuelling word-of-mouth marketing, and why even in a landscape dominated by paid-for ads word-of-mouth triumphs.
Strive to be the best 
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that word-of-mouth can only happen if you deliver high-quality services and/or products. If you are providing a solution to a problem or enriching your customer’s lives with the latest must-haves, your business will speak for itself. These days people only really believe in genuine recommendations so you need to ensure that all aspects of your business and all customer touch points are in good shape.
When a customer is delighted or upset about a service or product it is natural for them to share their experience with family and friends. The power of human connection should not be underestimated, so if you can go that extra mile to make customers feel valued, it will be worth the investment.
Maximise the impact of social media 
Shine a light on your online identity and make it easy for your customers to engage with you. Sharing content is instant and a post can go viral (or at least to multiple users networks) in seconds. It’s also visible to the rest of the world, so your brand image, customer communications and how efficient you are in providing results/solutions is paramount.
Having a strong online presence and attracting followers could also encourage influencer partnerships. These can be great advocates for the brand! Whilst consumers can spot a paid advertising campaign a mile off, authentic videos and posts about your business will keep your brand front of mind, and lead to those word-of-mouth conversations between customers.
Could you introduce a loyalty scheme? 
You will have noticed, multiple retailers and brands across the globe invest in loyalty schemes. They exist to keep current customers returning and investing. From collecting points that can be transferred into cash to complimentary consumer goods, initiatives to motivate and excite customers are all woven into a primary marketing strategy at the beginning of the year.
Effective loyalty schemes don’t need to come with a big budget, you can still benefit by offering discounts or rewards in exchange for a social media referral or a customer review. Don’t forget that customer reviews span across several websites like TrustPilot, so there is an opportunity to get further exposure for your business with link-backs.
Prioritise your customers 
Get to know your customers personally and research where you can identify potential ambassadors. You want to give people the opportunity to become your champions.
Possibly think about who has the largest following on social media that you could reach out to, or do any of your customers work in a specialised industry that you could benefit from? For example, having a bartender as a customer if you are a gin brand is only ever going to be a good thing.
Emma Hart is communications manager at Resolution Design, a design & marketing agency based in Devizes, Wiltshire, providing integrated marketing for small businesses and SMEs.

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