Word of Mouth marketing, the art of getting your customer to brag about your company, is the most coveted marketing plan in the business world. Yet, word of mouth marketing is the most untapped resource that many business owners implement. Understanding the motivation that your customers feel when they refer you is the key to creating a marketing plan that continues to create the behavior that your loyal customers are looking for to share your story.
When a new business starts up, the expectation is to grow by word-of-mouth marketing. One customer will discover you, fall in love with your service, your location and your value, and the hope is that they will go out and tell their friends about you. The motivation behind this referral is to help the local business get the word out. Having just discovered you, customers feel compelled to give you a helping hand. They know that you are brand new, and that no one else has heard of you yet, so they have the ‘breaking news’ to share, perhaps it’s like sharing a secret or a piece of gossip. Since they are the only one ‘in the know’, they feel a certain joy in spreading the news. As a brand new business, word of mouth marketing really does help get the word out, and yet, there wasn’t any real marketing plan established to receive it. It gives the false impression that you don’t have to do anything to create bragging customers.
Once the business is established, the news begins to travel slower. As the business owner, you know that their friends and co-workers have already heard of you. As the customer, it’s no longer newsworthy to talk about your company. Plus, as the business owner, you no longer value that testimony, because Brian already knows about you, therefore, the customer bragging is less valued. The customer isn’t bringing new customers, they are still only talking about it with their own FRANC™ circle (Friends, Relatives, Neighbors, Customers). Even though their friends and family have heard about you, unless they are regular customers, this testimony is by far the most valuable, yet the least appreciated. Now, the company is forced to change their marketing plan to include mass marketing to increase their numbers and awareness. Often, mass marketing focuses on unqualified prospects and “new” customers only, and the original, still loyal customers, aren’t included.
In order to make the switch back to the marketing that worked in the beginning of growing the company, the company needs to stay fresh and top-of-mind for their existing customers. The best way to stay fresh and exciting is to bring back the concept of breaking news to your existing customers. The breaking news isn’t what you’re selling, it’s what you’re bringing to the community. It’s the excitement that your customers know something that nobody else knows about yet, and they are compelled to share because the news is just too good to keep to themselves.
Marketing plans often focus on different sales of the year: The New Year Sale, The Spring Sale, The Summer Sale and The Winter Sale. That’s not the breaking news that existing customers will feel excited to share. What’s newsworthy in your industry? Have you implemented a service that no other company in your same industry is serving? Have you told your customers about it? If you don’t take the time to create breaking news for your customers, your customers will not be motivated to share your story, therefore, word of mouth marketing will quit working and you’re left scratching your head wondering why it stopped.
Your customers will rarely be more excited about your company than you are, and you have the ability to create the excitement that motivates your loyal customers to talk about you, or you have the option of mass marketing, and constantly filling your pipeline with prospects.