Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Word of Mouth Marketing IV: More Tips & Tricks

[please tag: WOM, Marketing, Buzz, Coupons]

Here are a few more tips and tricks to make your word of mouth campaign more successful. Remember, word of mouth is all about getting people to share positive experiences with friends.

1. Focus on Women
When men socialize, they talk about facts and opinions (e.g. who will win the playoffs), when women socialize they talk about experiences (e.g. that new day spa is wonderful). Since word of mouth is all about encouraging people to share experiences, women are far more effective at building buzz than men. In fact, insurance industry statistics show that over the lifetime of a customer, women will provide, on average 28 referrals, while men will provide only 13. Women are more than twice as effective in building buzz than men, so focus on them.

2. Package User Experiences
Word of mouth is a unique medium; a spoken medium conveyed by untrained fans of your business. Keep this in mind when you craft your marketing message for this medium. Your marketing message needs to be compelling, memorable and most importantly "tellable". Your job is to craft user experiences into a tellable message.

For example: A restaurant might focus on providing a family experience. They could provide balloons for the kids, a play area, games on placemats, whatever. The key is to then package that experience into a tellable tagline, such as "A great restaurant for kids". Then what happens is two women are talking about their weekend plans. One says to the other, "I'd love to go out to dinner, but the kids can’t sit still that long." The other replies: "You should try Mike's, it's a great place for kids." When crafting your marketing message, consider the medium and act accordingly.

In packaging your marketing message for word of mouth, consider the power of testimonials that reinforce your message. Testimonials enable you to phrase the words to be spoken. Using the example above, you might have a testimonial that says: "My kids love Mike's" or "Finally a place where the kids can play and my husband and I can enjoy a meal together."

3. Use Rewards
Reward people for helping you build word of mouth, both personally and spiritually. Everyone enjoys helping people, especially women. For women, helping friends and people in need is interwoven into their socialization process. So by providing rewards you make it easier for your company to work its way into that socialization process.

There are a variety of ways to reward people:

* Reward the individual: You can reward the individual who is spreading the word of mouth. As the network marketing industry has demonstrated, word of mouth spreads 100x faster when there is a financial incentive. You can do this by rewarding referrals with a rebate or discount, for example.

* Reward the recipient: People love to help others. If you create a reward for the recipient, that person will thank that person who told them about it. This, of course, further establishes the social bond between the two people. This positive feedback creates additional incentive for that person to tell others about this wonderful reward. For example, as a deli, you could provide each customer on a specific day with a secret word, say "bubbles", and every customer who uses that word the following Wednesday gets a free drink and chips with their sandwich. People will immediately share that secret word with friends.

* Reward the community: Create a tangible or perceived reward to the community, this creates the feeling that the community shares in your success. For example, "We will donate 10% of your profits during July to the local soccer field." Every soccer parent will help you spread the word, because the community benefits from your success.

* Reward the world: Can your success make the world a better place? Donate a percentage of sales to breast cancer or the rain forest or some other worthy cause that you care deeply about. I happen to know a 5-year old boy who needs a liver transplant to save his life. If you promoted the fact that a percentage of your sales went to this adorable little boy, parents would quickly empathize and join you in your fight to save him.

There are karmic rewards and tangible rewards. An example of a karmic reward would be "We buy from environmentally friendly suppliers" while a tangible reward would be "We donate 10% of our profits to breast cancer research". Even more tangible is "10% off your first order". Trust me, the more tangible the reward, the more effective it is.

Using coupons is a powerful way to provide tangible rewards. Online coupons are more powerful than offline coupons, because you can combine this with a tell-a-friend feature. Tell-a-friend emails can spread like wildfire. The other benefit of tell-a-friend emails is that you get the chance of crafting the message that is sent to those friends. Email is also easier for your customers because they simply enter the friend’s email address and click send. Who doesn't appreciate hearing about a great discount from a friend?

I hope that you find these tips and tricks helpful and I wish you well in your efforts to use the most powerful marketing medium in the world: word of mouth marketing. If you have tips and tricks or personal experiences with word of mouth marketing, please share them with me.