The best form of advertising is free – sort of

word of mouth advertising

It’s so powerful when a customer stands up and talks about why they’ve bought your product and, more importantly, why they think others should too.  It’s the equivalent of commercial gold dust.

Your customers and prospects will listen to what someone doing a similar job in a simlar organisation has to say more readily than you.

Word of mouth advertising is the nirvana of all forms of marketing because of this.  But it’s not really free – you have to work for it.

So, how to you go about getting word of mouth advertising?

  1. Ask for it – many companies don’t, but be sensible and don’t put your customers on the spot.
  2. Be credible – will your customer want to be associated with you so publicly? This links into to number 3.
  3. WIIFM  (what’s in it for me?) – your contact may want to raise their profile within their organisation or be looking to move elsewhere so giving them a platform might be just what they want.
  4. Give something back – help them with their work, give free resources, perhaps offer some free consultancy, at the very least write a blog post praising and thanking them (thus extending the shelf life of their endorsement).

Someone who does this kind of promotion for you is an ambassador and should be treated as such – say thank you and give acknowledgement.  A simple handwritten thank you card and a small box of chocolates sent to them at work (so their colleagues can see) works wonders.

Generally, but not exclusively, your ambassadors are created as a result of a long term relationship that you have cultivated.  It’s unlikely that you will get the word of mouth promotion from them overnight.

Here are five things to think about when dealing with your ambassadors:

  1. Film them in action promoting your product and YouTube this
  2. Get a written testimonial
  3. Ensure they are on message for you
  4. Don’t overstep the mark – they have a day job to do so don’t take the p*ss
  5. Say thank you (worth repeating because this is so important and easy to do)

And, finally, a couple of notes of caution.

  1. Like any unpaid advertising you cannot control what your ambassador will say about you so you need to be prepared to manage any resulting factual errors or myths that you haven’t busted before hand. 
  2. Your ambassador may not appreciate any subleties of message you are trying to convey -hence the importance of the pre briefing.

Do you have any tips to share from your experiences of word of mouth advertising?

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