Are you tapping the potential in word-of-mouth marketing?

CloudCherry | Featured | January 26, 2017

Being a huge admirer of Malcolm Gladwell’s oeuvre, particularly The Tipping Point, I always felt that brands do not have the proactive eyesight to leverage their loyal and happy customers as a potentially effective marketing strategy: positive word-of-mouth reviews (or create an epidemic, as Gladwell refers to any idea which spreads like a virus).

Most brands do not realize that their existing loyal customers are themselves a great, reliable marketing medium.

Why would you spend so much time and money on acquiring new customers when your loyal customers would do it for you? Moreover, acquiring new customers through the company’s own marketing efforts is any day more costlier!

Customer Loyalty and Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

You might ask – how do I identify my loyal customers? Well, if you’re already measuring your Net Promoter Score, then you’d know which customers are your promoters, or brand advocates. That’s your much needed start!

Be it in the case of the iconic Hush Puppies or the iPhone, loyal customers have, since time immemorial, been a Brand’s best salespeople.

Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” Chip R. Bell, Chip Bell Group.

In fact, “The Law of the Few” as evangelized by Gladwell states that before an idea/product becomes viral it has to be endorsed by a few individuals who champion your cause. These individuals are socially well-connected and hence called Connectors. What they do is use their influence to tell as many people how awesome your product or service is. In today’s digital world, this very same activity is carried out by an entire range of audience on social media, online forums, and so on. Hey, we are all connectors!

Instead of throwing money at pointless marketing campaigns and sales offers, brands should rather set their focus on loyal customers – understand how their expectations were met or exceeded and what aspect of your brand they endear to the most – and intelligently try to replicate this winning formula to create more such loyalists! And once you have a sizeable number of promoters behind your business, your business wouldn’t have to lose sleep over increasing its customer base.

The other aspect of positive word-of-mouth marketing is that when someone you know personally, or even in the virtual world, is endorsing a product, it definitely adds to the credibility of the product – it doesn’t go down as just another review or a fake review for that matter – and you have a higher chance of attracting a new customer to adopt/purchase your product/service. This works like a chain reaction (SINGLE CHAIN: new customer –> loyal customer –> brand advocate) and finally reaches a point where your company becomes a cult brand.

How to make Loyalists sing your name?

Now the obvious question arises – How do you motivate your Promoters to share their reviews with the outside world and engage in vigorous word-of-mouth marketing? The secret lies in incentivizing your customers and building a personal relationship with them – give a freebie for each review they share on social media or let them avail a discount at their next purchase. It’s important to know the incentives to offer and not just provide something for the sake of it and then expect loyal customers to tell the world their story with your brand.

While incentivization does work, forming a personal bond with your customers is even more important. Get to know them, their personal likes and dislikes, their expectations from your brand and so on. Send them a greeting card to wish them on their birthdays – it doesn’t always have to be product newsletters!

As mentioned earlier, a loyal customer is as good as your best sales person. You just need to tap into this section of the crowd intelligently, get them singing your name and keep delivering what you promise. So, push your marketing campaigns aside and truly master the art of word-of-mouth marketing. There’s no better time to start!