Word of Mouth Marketing (© magele-picture / Fotolia.com)
Word of Mouth Marketing (© magele-picture / Fotolia.com)

This post explains why word of mouth is so powerful and it considers some of the different strategies that businesses can use to encourage people to discuss their products and services. The best kind of marketing is undoubtedly ‘word of mouth’ marketing. This means that a product is so good, that it essentially ends up marketing itself. People share the news about your new product because it is so exciting and because they want to share their great experience. But how do you make ‘word of mouth’ happen? Is this something that is entirely down to luck? Or entirely down to the quality of the product? Is there a way to take a good product and ensure that people will talk about it? That’s what we’ll be examining in this post.

Using a USP to Encourage Word of Mouth

So, you’ve started a small business, or perhaps you’ve set out on your own. That’s a great start! To do this, you’ve come up with a business idea and you’re ready to go ahead and

The only problem is that the market in question is incredibly oversaturated and you’d have to spend a small fortune on advertising to get noticed or to develop a product or service that will compete with what’s already out there. Those established businesses have a head start and they have far more resources. What can you do?

Here’s the good news: in order to be a MASSIVE success, you have two options. One option is to do something the best. Unfortunately, that usually means you need money. The other option though is to do something unique. This way, you can stand out just as much and generate just as much attention.

In fact, if you’re different enough, then you won’t even need to market yourself. Consider the case of the Vibram ‘Five Finger Shoes’. These are shoes with ‘toes’ which are alleged to be better for running and climbing. Whether or not that’s true is not the point. The point is that the shoes are so strange looking that they market themselves. Wear them in public and people will ask you questions about them, which is free advertising for Vibram.

Meanwhile, these shoes perfect target an existing market that is currently not being catered to – barefoot enthusiasts.

This is a ‘USP’ – a ‘Unique Selling Point’. That’s something entirely unique to your business that can help you to stand out and to be the more appealing proposition even compared with more established competition. So, have a think about what your USP could be. This might mean putting a spin on an existing idea, coming up with something entirely new or catering to a specific section of your target market.

So how does this relate to word of mouth marketing? Well, for starters, it means that your product is now going to stand out as different and interesting enough to talk about it. Think about it: why would someone talk about a product that is the same as every other product?

If it’s the best experience they’ve EVER had, then they might do. Might do. But if it’s unique and different then that alone can be enough to spark conversation. This is why you should try to ensure that your business has some unique selling point. Because a unique selling point is also a unique talking point. Another thing to consider is how you can make your product into something that sparks conversation itself.

Because guess what happens when someone turns up at your door to deliver their post and they’re wearing strange shoes? Simple: you talk about it. Depending on how polite you are, you might say ‘what is up with those strange finger shoes?’ or you might say ‘cool shoes!’. Either way, you are likely to strike up a conversation, meaning that they will have a chance to tell you what they think about it. You might then go on to tell your partner about the strange shoes you saw, or about the conversation you had. The product is gaining attention via word of mouth.

We see this in other products too. The Microsoft Surface Book? That hinge likely has some practical benefit (the screen is heavier than it would be for your typical laptop) but it is also likely to do with the fact that it looks so striking. Microsoft likely were very happy about this because just like the Five Finger shoes, this provides a way for the company to spread the word via word of mouth.

There’s another form of ‘marketing that is similarly reliant on word of mouth – and it’s called ‘link bait’. When it comes to powerful SEO techniques, there are few that are more effective than link baiting. The idea behind link baiting is that you don't try to force Google to recognize your site by building tons of links yourself and working for hours, but rather write your content in such a way that your visitors do that for you.

The idea is that you write articles that will be so catchy and so interesting that people will spot them immediately and then want to share them with their friends as soon as they've read them. Here we will look at what you need to create such effective articles, so that your site can begin to grow exponentially in popularity and ranking even when you're sound asleep.

In other words, your articles themselves spread through word of mouth, thereby bringing more people to your site and creating more marketing opportunities for you.

Write Articles Like Adverts

The first thing you need to do when creating you link bait, is to write articles that will really catch people's eye and make them want to read your content. Try to think of your article as a product that offers value and then write your title as though you were trying to 'sell' that product. For instance, then, a title could start by grabbing attention and directly addressing the reader and then by telling them how you are going to provide value: 'Hey you - are you tired of being dopey in the mornings? This article can help'. As with any marketing, try to focus on what the end result is. You don't sell hats - you sell warm heads. Likewise, you don't sell articles - you sell stronger biceps or fuller wallets.

Go Emotional

If you want to leave a lasting impression on someone in your article, then you need to appeal to their emotions and make your text work on a more personal level. Try to address universal experiences and concerns and write to the author personally. If you can inspire laughter, shock or fear then your article will be much more likely to be shared.

Statistic: Share of consumers using different sources to decide where to shop in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2016 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Go Controversial

One of the reasons that people like to share articles is so that they can then discuss them with others. If you make your article controversial you will ignite this kind of debate - don't worry about getting people to agree with you, worry about getting them to talk about you.

Keep Them Short

The perfect length of an article is something that is hotly debated but something you need to think about when trying to make articles that will get shared a lot. For content you hope to go viral, try to keep your text as short as possible. People will be put otherwise by large blocks of writing.

Be Personal

Another tip is to make sure that your articles, videos and blog posts are targeted. In other words, they should be designed to appeal to a specific kind of person. This is useful because sharing and discussing is something that we tend to do as a form of communication. And why do we communicate? Very often it is either to tell people about us, or to show people we know them.

If your article is aimed specifically at a certain type of person, then your post will speak to them. They’ll share it in order to tell their friends and followers something about them.

OpenPR-Tip: Likewise, if your article is perfectly suited to their friend, they’ll share it in order to show they’re thinking of them. In other words, don’t try to appeal to everyone. If you do, you’ll end up appealing to no one!

Making Sharing Easy

Once you have the articles that people want to share on your site or you have a product page that is exciting enough to be a conversation topic, you need to provide your audience with a means of quickly and easily sharing those articles.

In other words, ‘word of mouth’ doesn’t need to mean literal word of mouth. The term can just as likely refer to social sharing or other means of sharing. The aim here is just to get people discussing your brand, through any means. And very often, this is going to mean integrating social media. Social media is a tool designed to encourage people to discuss your brand. Some ways you can do this include:

Share Buttons

First of all, you will want to create a way for your visitors to share your content easily, and the best way to do this is with share buttons on your website. These are buttons that give the viewer the ability to add a link to your article to their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit or other social network.

The problem here is that you risk your site becoming overly cluttered with hundreds of buttons for social networks of varying quality and prominence. One solution then is to use share buttons that allow you to share with multiple sites ('ShareThis' for instance). Another is to use small enough buttons and images that you can arrange neatly in a top right corner for instance. As a piece of advice, one way to encourage more shares and likes is to place buttons at both the top of your articles and the bottom (so people can share after they have read and enjoyed the article, or as soon as they've seen the interesting title). I would also recommend not including too many obscure social networks as these can distract from those that work. Do your research and include the sites that are up and coming, or that have already come...(?).

Linking to Your Profiles

You can also link your website to your profiles and groups and give your visitors the opportunity to follow or join your website. A Facebook group is a great way to accomplish this, so make sure that you have a graphical image that links to the group and that you give good incentive (news, free deals, special offers etc.) to join. This is most important on your home page, though you might opt to include it down the side of your content as well if you have a good space for it.

Live Feed

You can also include a feed for your Twitter or for your Facebook that allows visitors to your site to see your posts and updates. These are great widgets that ensure that your site always looks like it's doing something and is dynamic rather than static. It also allows you to promote offers etc. to people looking at your site. Again though you'll need space here, and you have to weigh up whether it's worth encroaching on your screen real estate for more social media. You might even want to consider designing a widget specifically for your site to make it fit better with the style and the available space.

Encourage Discourse

Finally, encourage people to discuss and share your posts and your products. You can do this by running competitions for instance – by awarding gifts for people sharing your content. Or you can do it by opening up questions to your audience. Oh, and one more thing? Create a fantastic product – that way people will WANT to rave about their experience. Under promise and over deliver and that way people will rave about your business!



         



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