Word-of-mouth (WOM) has been a powerful communication tool for centuries. You don't believe me? Ask Everett Rodgers. His study of purchase patterns of hybrid seed corn by farmers in an small Iowa town revealed a lot about how information on innovations or new products spreads within a community. Fast-forward several years, and we know that the Internet has redefined the notion of community to include individuals across the street and across the ocean.
Technology has simplified how we communicate within our communities and therefore changed how businesses talk to their customers. We continue to hear about the importance of involving the customer in your own business. What’s often overlooked, are the advantages of bringing a customer into the your own business conversations, helping them understand the process and often resulting in the growth of the business through WOM or ‘buzz marketing.’
By collaborating and using customer loyalty to help trigger buzz marketing, small businesses can save money on marketing and advertising in addition to motivating customers to get more involved.
Here are some of the simple ways to get started:
· Develop case studies on customer experiences that point to the challenge, solution and outcome. These will serve as marketing collateral that can be shared with potential customers and even local media.
· Customer roundtable: Many times, the best insight comes from others who are in the same shoes or have had a similar experience. This is a great opportunity for customers to discuss some of their challenges and how they were able to overcome challenges through your company’s tools.
· A customer portal is a valuable resource for customers. Through the portal, they can access and share information, speak with other customers by creating discussion groups and read more about the most appropriate solutions for their needs.
Also, check out the Word of Mouth Marketing Association for more information about ways to best implement and integrate WOM into your marketing plan.