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5 Ways to Get Your Customers Talking

word of mouthWord of mouth marketing is considered by many to be the most desired form of marketing. The trust, referrals, and overall brand building buzz that’s garnered by customers spreading the good word to prospects is worth its weight in gold. Some products, services, and experiences naturally produce chatter, but there are certainly things that any company can do to stimulate word of mouth and cash in on the buzz.

Here are five way to get your customers talking about you and your organization:

1) Ask them – the best word of mouth starts with “word of listen.” Call your customers up and ask them why they buy, why they stick around, and why they tell their friends about you. You might be a bit surprised by their answers. Hint: it’s usually not the stuff you have in your new marketing brochure. You stand a far greater chance of attracting the right customers and the right buzz if you really understand what your current customers value about doing business with you. This goes for online and social media listening as well – what are they saying in chat rooms, blog comments and on twitter?

2) Teach them – sometimes great word of mouth just happens, but sometime you’ve got to help it along. One way to do this is to make sure you are teaching your customers how to spot an ideal client, what a prospect in need might say when looking for your products, and how to properly and concisely describe how your company in different. Of course, in today’s hyper social media world you should also be teaching your happiest customers how to write reviews on Yelp, Insider Pages and CitySearch type rating sites.

3) Include them – People like to be asked what they think, it’s just human nature, but it’s also a great way to get some sound advice. Create a round table discussion group made up of select customers and charge them with advising you once a quarter or so on new marketing and business initiatives. (Reward them for this in some way as well.) This can include advising on everything from a product extension to the look and feel of your web site redesign. Members of your marketing round table will become natural ambassadors for the brand. (You can do this with simple video chat meetings – tinychat)

4) Star them – Letting a customer testimonial or success story go uncaptured or untold is downright criminal in WOM circles. Go out and get a TouchMic MityMic to record customer testimonials to your iPod or get a Flip video camera and start doing video interviews with customers to record their success stories. These “real life” bits of content are gold and turn your featured customers into talking referral billboards for your brand. Want to take this idea up a notch? Hold a customer party and film a dozen or so at one time in a great atmosphere – this alone will get your customers talking.

5) Surprise them - I like to think I saved the best for last – few things get people talking faster than surprising them. This can include doing something that was out of the blue and much appreciated to just giving them more than they bargained for. I remember a PR firm that was pitching me some business and the account rep showed up to meet with an apple pie (I’m still talking about it.) I once worked with a financial planner that hired a mobile auto detail firm to detail his customer’s cars during their annual review – that created some buzz.

Bottom line of course is that you’ve got to do good work, do something that somebody appreciates, and create an experience worth talking about, but then, prime the pump and leverage all that greatness.

Image credit: rego

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  • http://www.grabbinggreen.com/ Kim Sheehan

    Great recommendations…especially about surprises. We talk about surprises in our new book “Small Business Smarts: How to Survive (or Thrive) in a Recession. Great ideas and case studies on building WOM in tough times.

  • http://thestartupkid.wordpress.com/ Devin Chasanoff

    Great top 5 list! In terms of teaching consumers and starring consumers, I think a newsletter could be a great tool. That way you can share success stories of other clients/customers through videos or testimonials with other clients/customers as well as give them exciting updates about your business.

    This gives the client you starred some publicity, and it gives other clients/customers an easy case example of how to best use your product and service. Knowing how to effectively use your product and service allows them to get the most out of your business, which in turn makes them more inclined to spread the good word! Everyone wins!

  • http://www.blog.kutenda.com kutenda

    John,

    Its funny, I was just writing a blog post on a similar topic last night. More along the lines of how to write for your web site, but the same idea that the best way to know what to communicate to prospects is to ask your customers why they buy from you or use your services. Frankly, companies big and small could learn that lesson.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Robin – I've often found the exact words we should be using as a marketing strategy falling out of the mouths of customers.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Yes I could definitely add another about follow-up training and making sure they get the results promised.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    C'mon, who doesn't surprises- people spend lots of dough on stuff they don't need just to get the free surprise inside.

  • deborahrichmond

    Asking for a review can be as easy as asking for a recommendation if you are a member of the LinkedIn network. Once you've done work with or for one of your connections on LinkedIn, it's appropriate to ask them to recommend you. If they agree, they will have the opportunity to write about their experience with you and recommend you.

  • http://redcort.com/timeclock Time Clock Guy

    We've recently begun to 'Star them' on our web site with great success. As a BTB time clock software publisher and a highly service driven company, we were asking oursleves 'how can we show off our happy customers to our web site visitors?'

    We recently sent out a simple email to our users, saying we wanted to recognize them as happy users of our software by listing them on our web site. We've had nearly a hundred customers respond in just a couple of weeks. Surprisingly, a number have offered unsolicited testimonials of how much they enjoy using our time clock software. It's been a great personal connection with our users and a way for them to participate in virtual WOM on our behalf.

  • thomaswii4life

    Good Ideas. Always good to give potential customers talking about products. Gives more thought about buying your product.
    Two Voices | Two Guys

  • Name

    It is amazing to read the tips that are pointed out in your post. They are all things that I should have thought of but just haven't. I just realized, by reading “What You Don’t Know You Know: Our Hidden Motives in Life, Business, and Everything Else,” by Kenneth Eisold, that if we could just think about the things that we already know, we would be successful- fortunately it teaches you how to become more observant of your own thoughts.

  • brianvellmure

    Great post. I like the fact that in this uber-social world, your first recommendation is to pick up the phone, call and ask them. Social Media Monitoring is also valuable for “listening”, but sometimes good old fashioned human contact goes a long way.

    At the end of the day, though, the whole key to any of it is exceeding expectations and 'wow'ing your customers. If you do that, the rest will take care of itself.

    Great tips.

  • strategic_growth_advisors

    Informative, insightful and very much timely. Thanks, John. You have done it again as always.

  • http://www.mattarney.com/ matt anrey

    Surprisingly, a number have offered unsolicited testimonials of how much they enjoy using our time clock software. It's been a great personal connection with our users and a way for them to participate in virtual WOM on our behalf. This is a great guy and I'm sure a wonderful businessman! You could check site for more improvement on your business partners. Click at this link http://www.mattarney.com

  • http://www.kkonlinebooks.com/ rotonics

    Hey,

    Great, great post for customer talking! You are true representation of value on the net.

    Thanks for giving us more ideas about how to spread our word.

  • http://twitter.com/JoyceOladipo JoyceOladipo

    What’ve actually done is add giving a testimonial as a requirement for working with me. If a clients signs unto my 9 months coaching program they need to give me a testimonial when we are getting close to the 6th months, by then we would have achieved some of their immediate goals.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Great idea – if you deliver the goods then you should make that a requirement – that goes for referrals too!

  • http://www.melissadata.com/ Data Quality

    Great tips, I think asking them and including them are two of the most important strategies that should be employed.

  • wcbusinesscoach

    Yup, the free prize idea (like) Seth Godin's book, is awesome, thx John! I am going to try this.

    Have YOU tried this before? I'd love to know…

  • http://www.webwindows.co.uk/ Marketing Advertising

    Nice reading and thanks again for another interesting piece of writing. I really appreciate your blog.I like your writing style,which is very simple and talkative one. Thanks for sharing such an informative and cool blog with us. Keep blogging.

  • http://www.webwindows.co.uk/ Marketing Advertising

    Nice reading and thanks again for another interesting piece of writing. I really appreciate your blog.I like your writing style,which is very simple and talkative one. Thanks for sharing such an informative and cool blog with us. Keep blogging.