Step One – Identify Your “Mouths”
Breaking it down.
Word: what people know about you that they’ll want to share with others.
Mouth: the number of people that you have relationships with that are willing to share your “Word” with others. Getting more word-of-mouth for your business comes from investing in building relationships with the people that matter most and making it easier for them to share your word.
Mouths that Matter. VIP customers you have strong personal relationships with and local business owners you’re well aligned with. Alignable local businesses include those sharing common interests (regularly recommend each other customers) and those sharing an affinity (other local businesses nearby you talk to).
Who are your VIP Customers? Customers you’ve built enough trust with that they gave you the ability to stay in contact. If you asked them for their email address “to stay in contact” would they provide it to you? If yes, then they have VIP potential.
Building Trust with Customers. Trust is built through positive interactions with you and your business. When you do a great job of engaging a prospective customer, understanding their needs, and using your knowledge to help them to the best solution you build trust. Now’s the time to ask for permission to stay in touch.
The Other Mouths that Matter. Building relationships with other local business owners unlocks access to a wealth of word-of-mouth opportunities. But just like with your customers, these relationships take time to build and need to be nurtured to benefit you most. It is imperative to forge connections with the business owners you want to work with and recommend those you’re willing to refer your customers to.
Step Two – Feed and Nurture with Words to be Shared
Words Worth Sharing. You need to regularly feed Mouths your Word for them to have something to share with others. By sharing the services you provide, products offered, events you are hosting, and the promotions you are running in an easily sharable format you set up your Word to be Spread by the Mouths that matter. That’s Word-of-Mouth.
What Would You Share. I share stuff that makes me look smart and informed. I will share special promotions if they are in some way “exclusive” to friends of your business and their friends. My favorite Word to Share is when my wine store guy tips me off to a great wine my friends don’t know about. He tells me the history of the wine maker. It’s one thing to walk into a get together with a bottle of wine, but it’s something totally different to do so with a story that goes with the bottle.
Nurturing Consumer Mouths. Email marketing is the most cost effective way to nurture your customer relationships on an ongoing basis. Content Credo: Be brief, bright, gone. Short content that shares your expertise with your customers has the greatest engagement and word-of-mouth impact. What can you say to your customers that will have them talking about you on Friday night when they are out with their friends?
Nurturing Local Business Mouths. Your local business relationships need to be nurtured too. You should actively communicate with your connections on ideas you have to promote your business, the products and services you are using that are working and not, and making introductions between connections where synergies exist. For recommendations, by staying abreast of what they are doing (their “mouth”) you’ll be able to actively share it with your customers. And they will be inclined to do the same for you.
Stronger Together. Along the way each local business owner gains experience and knowledge while building relationships with customers nearby. Operating alone and in isolation is terribly inefficient. By coming together, local business owners dramatically increase their individual and collective strength. Who better to ask for advice than someone who recently solved the same challenge?
Locals I Recommend. Local business owners carry a lot of clout when it comes to recommending others nearby. You’re part consumer/part business owner and your customers look to you for advice on other local businesses they should support. Recommending these local businesses on Alignable creates a public endorsement that generates word-of-mouth for that business.
Ignore the Big Box. Big retail businesses don’t have word-of-mouth relationships with their customers. That’s why most of them revert to deep discounts to compete. Don’t follow their lead. Your strength comes from relationships that lead to word-of-mouth referrals. 10 local businesses working together have more marketing clout with local consumers than any big box retailer. Regardless of whether you sell to consumers or other businesses.