Did you know that women use roughly 20,000 words per day as opposed to about 7,000 for men? The main reason for this disparity is that women are more relational.
So what does that factoid have to do with advertising for women-owned businesses? Everything.
“Word of mouth marketing” is the answer — hands down. It’s intuitive. It’s effective. AND IT’S FREE!!
Think about it. When you are getting ready to buy something, do you turn on the radio or television and sit for hours waiting for a commercial to point you in the right direction?
Or – if you’re like me, do you phone your best friend to ask her for a trusted opinion?
You might even jump online and read a few reviews or join a forum discussion. Right? Have you ever done a YouTube search first? (BTW, did you know that YouTube is the #2 search engine?)
Truth be told: You use Word of Mouth. We all do.
We place great trust in these referrals. Heck, this is one reason there’s a huge market for personal shoppers and product experts. This is why businesses like OpenSky.com have taken off so quickly. You trust these opinions, whether you realize it or not.
Most people might not conscious of this reality, but Word of Mouth marketing is the most effective form of advertising. (In point of fact, there is a trade association called the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, womma.org)
So, how can you utilize Word of Mouth marketing for your business?
I’ve compiled some simple ideas to help you spread the word about your business. Sure, some of these ideas will take some time – but they’ll generate surprising results:
1. Your friends and family are your most effective network. Your greatest advocates are the people closest to you – the folks who know you best. So don’t be shy about asking your friends and family to be walking advertisements for you. Let them spread the word about your business. Send them an email every few weeks thanking them for telling people about your business (a subtle reminder!). This tip might seem obvious, but your personal network can be very powerful.
2. On many social occasions, you’ll find that people ask you about your business. Who are these folks? Think about it. Why are they interested in your product or service? Have a mental script ready and prepared in your head, so it’s easy to remember and actually sounds interesting. Use these interactions as your own secret profiling project. At the end of your conversations, make a way to encourage them to talk to you on a regular basis. You might want to hand them cards with your fan page address, or your Twitter account name. Or tell them how to find you on Facebook (And even more savvy, ask how you can find them!!)
3. Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter? If not, make it happen. Did you know there are over a half billion people on Facebook? You can use these networks to point people back to you — consistently. By giving your customers special tips; informing them about coming events; asking for their opinion; you are helping them understand that you are engaged and listening. By doing this regularly, you will make your customers feel like they are company insiders. And, they will develop a loyalty to you.
4. Make sure the copy on your website is top notch and is laid out in a clean, easy-to-read format. (Of course, this applies to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts too.) Copy is the language and power of the web. It’s really not all about the pretty icons and hip artwork. This stuff can easily distract potential customers from your primary goal. You want potential customers to become customers. Remember, content is king and when you pull it off really well, your credibility and integrity shines. And, people become compelled to do business with you!
5. Focus on customer service and rapport building. Think about your favorite coffee shop, pub, boutique, etc. What makes this place your favorite? Do they remember your favorite drink or your favorite spring color? You want to be with people that take a genuine interest in you (or at least make you feel like they do.) Do the same for your following. As you do, your following will get bigger rather quickly. Why? Because you made it personal for them.
6. Write a weekly blog about topics and ideas that relate to your product or service. Think about it this way. Your blog is an extension of you – it’s a lot like your wardrobe. Pick compelling titles. Pay attention to key words that are used to search for you, and use them in the first few sentences. And, if you’re anything like me, life happens. So try to stay out in front of this process. Write three or four so that you can post a new blog every week.
7. Display your online comments and reviews. Respond to them regularly. Make sure to respond to both positive and negative comments in a timely manner. Post words of praise on your website. The more, the better. As people see that you’re responsive, they will be more apt to trust you and to purchase your product or service.
8. Rally your team around your cause. This will make them happy. Study after study show that employee morale is a key predictor of the profitability of a company. And happy employees actually say good things about you and your business. Help those you work with understand that they work more for your cause than for you. If they get this, they will become very engaged and loyal – AND HAPPY! Hint: Make it a point to do what you can to establish a home-like work environment. Encourage open, honest communication and model it. Giving feedback. Openly discussing issues. Being part of decision making. These are all opportunities that clarify the cause, build relationships and grow trust. And guess what? More and more people will talk about your business with their family, friends, and neighbors.
9. Associate yourself with something bigger than yourself. You can do this by offering meaningful resources on your website. These resources should relate to your product or service and also support the need for your product or service – research articles and informational links. You also should think about associating your business with a charity that resonates with you and your potential customers. Did you know that over 75% of consumers want the businesses that they frequent to support a charity – a bigger cause. Coupling Word of Mouth Marketing with Cause Marketing can prove to be a very important way to keep people talking about you. It makes you real.
10. Get Google Analytics. In order to be on top of things, you need to know what is working (and what’s not). Allow the data to speak to you. It’s like using a map and paying attention to landmarks. If you’re able to effectively track unique visits, conversions, web traffic differentials – after getting some Word of Mouth going – then you’ll have a better handle on what works. This takes discipline and a little time, but can help you know if you are actually getting to your destination.
The price tag for word of mouth marketing is your time and effort. Coupled with a little savvy, your personality, and passion for your business, you have a real recipe for success. It’s like getting a five star dinner at a home-cooked price. I think that you will be pleased with the results. Please let me know how you’ve used some of these techniques. I’d love to hear your story.