I am often asked, “What can we start doing to build word-of-mouth (WOM) quickly?” The answer is, not much.
Word-of-Mouth embodies both STRATEGY and CULTURE. It is not something you wake up one day and say to yourself, “Maybe we should work on word-of-mouth today or this month as our new initiative.” Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. In my speeches, I give a very simple, yet real world view of word-of-mouth. When my grandfather needed to buy a new cow, he didn’t go to the newspaper, look at the ads on “lowest cost cows for sale”, and he didn’t have Groupon to give him the deal of the day. Nope, he would walk down to the street at the end of his property and talk to Joe next door over their fence. He would say, “Joe, who do you trust and feel would give me a fair deal on a new cow?” Joe would tell him, “Billy Bob, he has never steered (no pun intended) me wrong and always stands behind any cow you purchase in case they are sick or something happens. He is THE ONE to buy your cows from you can trust and he will give you a fair price.”
Three guesses (hopefully you only need one) on who my grandfather bought his next cow from. This is true word-of-mouth marketing. What is interesting is that this is STILL how business gets done today – only we can do it faster, in broader markets, and at a lower cost than my grandfather, thanks to social media. But the concept still applies.
This all doesn’t happen over night. It takes time. It takes building relationships and trust. It doesn’t happen quickly. But it can happen for any company if they have the right culture and they are willing to adopt a “Word-of-Mouth Strategy” going forward. This is a strategy that focuses on working with customers and “arming” those customers with great experiences and results that will cause them to spread the word about you. If you put out a crappy product or service, this is the word-of-mouth that gets spread. If you put out quality products/services and back it with a culture of caring and helping the customer, that is what get’s spread as well. You get to choose which it is you want being said about you and your business, both in person and over the airwaves.
If you want the many great benefits from word-of-mouth, start with a business strategy and culture that embraces this with your employees. This will translate to your customers and partners. It will appear to be “tactical” after you have invested the time to create the “strategy” of how you will deliver on this going forward. But in reality, strategy will rule the day.