Not too long ago, I read an article discussing word-of-mouth advertising. I can’t remember where I read this article, but the basic idea, was that there is only one way to truly drive word-of-mouth advertising. Since then, I’ve been paying attention to myself– when do **I** spread the word about other people’s products and services? In that time, I’ve determined there’s not one, but two primary ways to drive word-of-mouth advertising.
In the article I read, the author asserted that the only way to drive word-of-mouth advertising for your product or service, was to provide exceptional value– more value than what a consumer would typically expect in such a product or service. This absolutely is true– I find myself spreading the word about products or services that I’m incredibly impressed by. I feel that if I don’t tell my friends and colleagues about what I’ve found, I’m actually doing them a disservice… This is definitely the best way to drive word-of-mouth, and overall is the best way for anyone run a business, period– providing the best value possible to your customers needs to be the primary focus of all actions and decisions at your company.
While people will naturally only tell their friends and colleagues about products that they truly believe provide exceptional value, there is a way to ‘cheat’. And that way, is to motivate. You can motivate your customers to tell their friends and colleagues about your service/product– even if it’s mediocre… You can provide your customers with direct monetary commission, guaranteed rewards, a chance to win something big(such as a drawing for a large reward), or even higher levels of your own service(such as Dropbox offering extra space for each referral). When you have little or no control over the value of the product or service you sell, this is often your only option– beyond the obvious benefits of ‘value add’ services, such as great customer support… The key thing to remember with motivating customers to tell others about your product/service, is that their relationship with their friends/colleagues is probably more important to them than their relationship with you– so if you disappoint them in any way(bad customer service, bad product, etc.), they won’t tell others about you, regardless of what motivation you give them… Likewise, if you don’t treat your customer’s referrals with great care, your customer will hear about it– and be less likely to refer you in the future.