Last night I decided to get some takeaway food for myself. I was in the mood for some nice Mexican and had almost zeroed in on a place close to my apartment that served good Mexican delicacies. But then a friend told me about this other place that served impressive Mexican food and I found myself standing at their counter placing my order.
Does this mean that the place close to my apartment was not good? No. As a matter of fact if you ask me, I did not find anything special at this new place. The food quality was more or so the same. Then why did I prefer to drive almost 5 miles out of my way and try this new place? Because my friend had recommended it!
That’s the power of word of mouth. It can sell effortlessly!
Customers – Your Best Brand Endorsers
Today companies are spending ridiculous amounts in advertising budgets. They are focused on traditional forms of marketing like ads and hoardings and banners. They are also organizing road-shows and conducting socially relevant events to create brand awareness. And now with the social media bandwagon, marketing plans and efforts have undergone a complete makeover.
However, amidst all this marketing ballyhoo it’s important that we do not ignore the quintessential marketing tool – word of mouth or viral marketing. In today’s customer driven markets, the word of a satisfied customer travels at lightning speed. Your customers, if happy, would not shy away from endorsing your product or brand.
The little smile on their faces and the glint in their eyes will be your biggest sales pitch!
How to Get Your Customers Talking?
The most obvious way is to deliver a quality product. But that would work only when customers have a linear relationship with your company. In today’s competitive scenario, companies establish multiple touch-points with their customers to stay heads up. In such a case, a memorable experience can earn you the brownie points.
An experience always starts with conversation. One mistake that companies often make is that they initiate conversations but fail to complete them. You need to remember that marketing is no longer a unilateral communication channel. Now it is a multi-level and multi-dimensional engagement that cannot be controlled or dictated from one end. If you start something, then you need to go ahead and finish it. Your customers expect it.
Secondly, a conversation has to be backed by meaningful action. You do not want the markets to set you aside as just another gibbering mouthpiece. Your customers are not looking for empty promises. They are looking for results. Your proactive and fast action will assure them that you do go through with what you claim. Without action your communication will be just another cheap talk that won’t sell.
And finally, encourage client engagement. Your customers are not merely the recipients of your marketing efforts. They are equal participants. You can gain customer loyalty through your products and services. But encouraging your customers to participate in your efforts will win you their affinity.
WOM – A Bittersweet Melody
As much as we talk about word of mouth being the most powerful marketing tool, we also need to realize that it is the most volatile one. Just like you have a satisfied clientele in the market, you also might have a few customers who are not happy with your brand. This is the group that you need to be wary of and watch out for.
Today social media offers an easy platform to unhappy customers to vent their frustrations. Websites like Facebook and Twitter are omnipresent today capable of spreading messages like a forest fire. We have had cases where brands have faced potentially damaging publicity on these social networks due to some unhappy customers.
Think Before You Leap
It’s time we start taking word of mouth seriously and go back to basics with client engagement. All the technological evolutions set aside, customers will point their fingers at your brand in case of a failed undertaking. You need to tread carefully when engaging viral marketing or else it might prove to be a ‘white elephant’ in your corporate strategy.