In a marketing world seemingly dominated by digital advertisements, billboards, television and radio, direct mail campaigns both digital and physical, Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and countless other channels, just how effective is good old word-of-mouth advertising? Can it even begin to cut through the noise?
The answer is a resounding yes, and very much so. According to a report from Nielsen Holdings, an analytics organization with a focus on global consumer habits, 83% of consumers place more trust and higher value in the recommendations of friends or family. Some marketing outfits have placed this number as high as 90%.
The point is, word-of-mouth matters.
It especially matters in an industry like ours where customer trust is paramount. In this post, we’ll explore the cause-and-effect of word-of-mouth advertising and how to get more of it.
Happy Customers are Brand Advocates
The term “brand advocate” (sometimes “brand ambassador”) is marketing-speak for someone who really likes your work and won’t hesitate to talk about it. These customers are not only loyal to your company, but are responsible for bringing you new business to boot.
For most small businesses, having only a handful of these brand advocates can be incredibly valuable—but if you really want your word-of-mouth advertising to skyrocket, you should purposefully seek them out and reward them. After all, if one brand advocate is a boon to your business, then one hundred brand advocates could be truly transformative.
Brand advocates can be rewarded through special rewards programs, VIP clubs that involve discounts, special offers, or other perks. The ultimate goal is to, in some way, give these kinds of customers an extra-special “thank you.” A handwritten card might cost you five minutes plus a dollar and some change to mail out, but the impact could literally last a lifetime.
Word-of-Mouth Advertising Doesn’t Always Have to be “In Person”
When we think of word-of-mouth advertising, we usually picture two or more people sitting together physically. While that certainly can and does take place, it’s important to remember that a lot of people’s interactions take place online, whether that’s Facebook, a review website like Yelp, or even a car hobbyist’s forum.
To the best of your ability, become involved in these online venues. Online review sites, for example, are a platform for indirect word-of-mouth advertising. Make sure to claim and update your business on the major ones, like Yelp and Google.
There’s plenty written online about how to get good reviews. The truth is that a lot of this advice is often more complicated than it really needs to be. The “secret” to getting good reviews is to ask your happy customers to leave you some honest feedback.
Pull your brand advocates aside and ask them to leave you an honest review as a personal favor—stress the honesty part and don’t incentivize them with a gift or discount for the review (review websites generally frown upon this). You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many of them will follow through. Businesses with mediocre reviews or not enough reviews usually have one thing in common: they don’t ask for reviews.
Stay in Touch With Your Customers
Imagine that you’re running an auto repair shop and one of your customers had this to say:
“I had my car repaired at this place. They did a good job and the price was fair. But what really set them apart was the fact that the mechanic who worked on my car called me a week later to make sure everything was OK. I’ve never been to any other repair shop that did this—it made me feel like they really cared about me as a customer.”
The fact of the matter is, most businesses—regardless of industry—don’t do followups like that. It might take a little extra planning and time to pull off, but the payoff can be huge, especially with regard to word-of-mouth advertising. The example customer above would be far more likely to recommend the business to their family or friends.
Ways to stay in touch might include the followup call as detailed above, but could also be newsletters (both digital or physical), Facebook followup messages, or personalized letters. The goal is to stay in their mind—the more “head space” you occupy, the more likely it is that your brand advocates will be sending you referrals.
How BG Can Help You Build Customer Relationships
To generate word-of-mouth advertisements, you first need to provide your customers with the best possible service you can. As you already know, the equipment and products you use have a huge impact on the level of service you can provide. If you haven’t made the switch to BG automotive products yet, we’d like to invite you to request a demo so you can see the difference in quality we bring to the table.