Every small business and entrepreneur needs to understand how the best marketing strategy can change their lives. From small to mid-size businesses, including nonprofits, Fortune 500 companies, and presidential candidates. They all use this marketing strategy in a simplistic process.
The best marketing strategy is the one and only, organic ‘word-of-mouth’ method. Too simple, right? Another way of saying it is ‘going viral.’ The preferred method is an organic campaign, but sometimes you may need to spend some dollars on ad spend to get your product or service out to the masses.
Using the word-of-mouth strategy could be beneficial in lots of ways, but there are drawbacks.
For any business leader, a positive brand image can pay great dividends in earning potential, increased profits, healthy employee morale, maintaining good employee retention, and opportunities to scale. On the other side, a negative brand could mean the opposite in the aforementioned and even solvency. Having a word-of-mouth strategy requires the right set of operations and leadership for it to be successful.
Here are some foundational principles and questions to consider to build a word-of-mouth marketing strategy:
1. Have the right product/service
It’s really easy to fall in love with your own creation. The goal is to have others fall for it too. Think about the conversations between you and your significant other, amongst business leaders, and around the office. Someone is talking about a recent experience with a favorable product or service.
Key question: how do you make that conversation live on beyond transaction?
2. Ensure the experience has a seamless delivery
Technology is continuously evolving with higher processors, ram speed, video cards, etc, which is a good advancement for mankind as a whole. Unfortunately, it has placed a subconscious sense of urgency for the delivery of the product to be seamless without hiccups or issues. Patience may be a virtue but also has a cost when people don’t choose to wait.
Key question: do you have the right processes in place to ensure consistency and quality every time?
3. Omni-channel approach
Thanks to technology’s advancement, customers want to see their brand on different channels and spaces. The significance of having a brick-and-mortar location isn’t as important as being found on the internet. If no one can find you in their search queries, you don’t exist. Hence, the need for a marketing budget with ad spend. The need to do television, print, and digital at the same time isn’t necessary. Start small and figure out the best places to reach your customers.
Key question: can a search query bring up your product with minimal effort?
4. Give them a reason to come back
A common marketing strategy to keep customers coming back is offering LTOs (aka, limited time offer). One of the best LTOs I’ve seen was Taco Bell’s Beefy Crunch special. It’s a medium-sized burrito with seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, Flamin’ Hot Fritos, sour cream, and Mexican rice. Since it’s not offered year-around, the other ‘scarcity’ strategy compounds the demand and another reason to visit the restaurant.
Key question: what incentive do you offer your customers to keep coming back?
Marketing is Momentum
When the strategy is executed perfectly over time, it’s such a beautiful thing to watch it grow into a momentum no one wants to stop. It’s similar to watching a time-lapse video of a sunset, a blossoming flower, or a cake rising in the oven. That moment captured in seconds rather than the hours it truly took is hard to look away. Recreating that glorious moment for your business takes time.
The time element to establish the word-of-mouth effect will vary for each company. The momentum for Taco Bell’s customer-led initiative was organic and not immediate.
Check out this video and tell me if Taco Bell’s marketing team was elated with this outcome.
Naturally, organic word-of-mouth is always best. Word of mouth is directly from the customer base. The proof of concept is complete. In two words- mission accomplishment.
The consumer has done the hard work of collecting data, and reviews and selecting which product is a hero or zero.
This marketing strategy sounds simple but doesn’t mean everyone has success with getting these results.
If you’re dedicated to making this happen, find the right project, product, or service and start getting feedback immediately. Promote it to everyone. Exclude no one. From family to friends, allow this strategy to work so everyone begins talking about it.
You’ll know when to stop spreading your ________ when strangers tell you the details about their experiences.
This will take time. Don’t give up. Keep sharing. Share it with strangers locally and afar. Don’t be afraid. Allow the word-of-mouth method to work for you.
Nathan A Webster, MBA