03 Feb Increase Sales by 100% for Free!
I recently saw a commercial for AT&T where the phone giant was pushing their new strategy of giving current customers the same price as new customers. Finally. Seems like a practical business plan to me.
But that wasn’t my main take away from the commercial. My main take away was how awful the spot was written. I mean, I guess it couldn’t have been that bad, I am blogging about the commercial. However, two things drove me nuts about the ad. One, the actor playing the customer calls his mom and proceeds to dial the wrong number. It’s 2021, who does not have their mom’s number saved in their smart phone? I couldn’t even tell you my own mom’s cell phone number and she is on my AT&T plan. Second was the comment from the actress playing the AT&T employee. Her response to the customer dialing and inviting a stranger to enjoy the AT&T pricing was to turn to the camera and say, “word of mouth marketing, it’s what businesses did before commercial advertising.”
So that leaves me with the question, does word of mouth marketing work in 2021?
First, what is word of mouth marketing? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, it’s “An unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product or service.” Makes sense.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe a recommendation from a friend or family member over all forms of advertising. Think about how much you are willing to go to a restaurant or try out a new store based on your friend or and family’s recommendation. So yes, word of mouth marketing works in 2021.
But let’s be clear, saying you have a word-of-mouth marketing strategy with no execution plan is not a word of mouth marketing strategy. It is a polite way of saying you have no plan. Trust me, I run a media marketing company and we hear this a lot from prospects.
An effective word-of-mouth marketing plan has three simple steps. Step one, a customer or client hears about your product or service. Step two, they experience your product or service. And step three, they tell others about your product or service. Sounds simple right? But is that something you can control as a business owner?
Yes and no. You can start by making the customer or client feel special. There has to be something buzz worthy. A few years back a local restaurant offered an off-menu item called “Bootleg Chicken.” But you could not order the item in the restaurant. You had to drive around back and knock on the back door with a $20 bill. Someone would take your money and return with a fried chicken meal for four. Buzz worthy! Friends started talking about the “Bootleg Chicken” with pictures of the experience. That is an effective word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
Chick-fil-A has done a great job of creating a word-of-mouth strategy around clean, fast and friendly. You won’t see that slogan on their TV commercials, but they are known for being clean, fast and friendly. So much so that people on social media have joked that the entire country would already be vaccinated for COVID-19 if the government would just let Chick-fil-A run the process.
Coke used their product to start a word-of-mouth campaign by printing names on their bottles and cans. Consumers started posting photos to social media of their name printed on a Coke product.
So you can create an effective word-of-mouth campaign for your business, but you also have to support that campaign with Powerlisting, SEO and Social Media.
Powerlisting is the modern-day equivalent to the Yellow Pages. Even the Yellow Pages are mostly digital today. There are more than 60 search engines that people use to find your business. We know Google, but there is also Yelp, Facebook, Waze, Google Maps, etc.
Powerlisting is just making sure you are properly listed on all the different services. As a business owner you want to make sure you have the proper keywords in your searches. If you are a hamburger restaurant, but you also have a chicken sandwich option, you want to make sure you list chicken sandwich as a keyword. When potential customers are looking for a chicken sandwich, your hamburger restaurant shows up as an option.
You also want to make sure your hours are up to date. My staff was excited to try a new barbeque restaurant a few years back. We heard about it, aka word of mouth, and googled its location. There was no mention that they were closed on Monday, so we left the office and drove 15-minutes to try this great barbeque. When we pulled up the restaurant staff was only there because their dumpster out front had caught on fire. The sign on the door said closed on Mondays. Talk about a literal and figurative dumpster fire. It took us months before we tried that place again. Lost business.
Yelp tells us that “85% of consumers use the internet to find a local business.” Google adds, “18% of customers made purchases through local search, whereas 7% made purchases through non-local search.”
Free tip, if you have not already done so, sign up for Google My Business. It is free and Google owns more than 70% of the search engine market. This is where you can update your hours, keywords and brands or products you carry. Just get ready for Yelp, Nextdoor and everyone else to reach out to you afterwards to update their sites.
You have heard about SEO or Search Engine Optimization, but do you understand what it means and what it does for your business? Basically, Google is acting like a Librarian for the world wide web. Putting your website into a certain category so it is easier to find. That is, if you have your SEO up to date. This is an ongoing process because Google is looking for the most up- to-date and current website to promote at the top of the search results. Let’s be honest, no one goes past the first page of Google search results.
SEO is more than just keywords; you need to have backlinks to your site and update the content on a regular basis. Videos have become more important since Google purchased YouTube.
Finally, social media. The issue with many companies’ social media accounts is that they are using social media has a bulletin board rather than an outlet to build a following to promote their business. No one wants to follow an account that is only promoting menu items. You have to follow the 90-10 rule with social media today. The majority of your content needs to be informative or entertaining with only 10% reserved for promotion.
I honestly could write an entire article just on any one of these topics, but the main point is to remind you that you have a lot of tools at your fingertips that are free and can be used to build your business.
Make sure you are listed properly, that your SEO is up to date on your website and that you are using social media to drive more business. Word-of-mouth marketing is very much alive today, even for AT&T.
Of course, this is a lot to think about, and media marketing companies like Centerpost Media can come alongside and do the heavy lifting so you can focus on what you do great. See, that promotion was only 10% of this article.
Scott Miller is the CEO of Centerpost Media and host of the Create, Build and Manage Radio Show and Podcast. You can find Scott on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via “@scottmillerceo.” Centerpost Media is a marketing agency with a vision to help every business they encounter with their media needs by providing outstanding quality, service and value. Centerpost Media is the parent company to BizTV, BizTalkRadio, BizTalkPodcasts and Bizvod.