Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking on the “Power to the People” panel at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network’s Entrepreneur University event. Sitting next to me on the panel were Derek Johnson of Tatango and Andy Boyer of Spring Creek Group.
The conversation covered many of the facets of word-of-mouth marketing, but we spent lots of time talking about Twitter and Facebook and the best ways to use them to get the word out. But anyone who limits their word of mouth efforts to just the social media channel will find themselves fighting an uphill battle.
At LiquidPlanner, we have lots of experience in this area. We’re a lean and mean startup—that means we don’t spend a lot of money on marketing. Instead, we depend on our users and fans to help us get the word out.
Here are my top 5 tips for word of mouth marketing.
1. Be interesting!
It sounds obvious, but it’s still my #1. If you’re a drycleaner, think of what you can do to set yourself apart from all the other drycleaners. How about offering to dryclean dog sweaters for free? When we launched LiquidPlanner, we got a lot interest because we were the only tool that helps teams manage uncertainty through ranged estimates. A new and different way to schedule projects was worth talking about.
2. Over-invest in customer service
Nordstrom is the quintessential example of this. They have a die-hard “the customer is always right” philosophy. They’ll accept a return of any item, at any time, for any reason. I can’t even count the number of times a friend has shared a story about great service at Nordstrom. And the more you interact directly with your customers, the more they’ll feel a connection to you and your company. That means you’ll be top of mind when someone comes looking for a recommendation.
3. Build word-of-mouth into your product.
(Create viral features, if you will). Maybe you’ll build a service that pulls email addresses from your user’s address book for easy invitations. This is especially critical for any offering based on the network effect. Make it easy to share information through your product. With LiquidPlanner, you get the most out of the tool if you share it with your team. You can share your plans with your clients, too (for free) through the client portal.
4. Give something away for free (but be smart about it).
Whether it’s a product sample, a free trial, or a lightweight free version of your product, get it out there and let your potential customers experience it. People like to share deals because it allows them to help out their friends and family.
5. Teach people something.
Everyone wants to look smart, right? Figure out ways that you can open a gap in people’s knowledge and then fill it in. (Learn more about this technique in Made to Stick.) NPR does a great job of this. They go deep on something that most of us never think twice about it. Then, we listeners turn around and share our new tidbits of knowledge with people around us and feel instantly smarter. If you can offer some value to people who visit your site, they’re more likely to share it with those around you.
My list barely scratches the surface of all the great ways to get people talking about your product or service, but it’s food for thought.
PS: If you like post, please share it with a friend. Or, tell us your best strategy for word-of-mouth marketing.