My sister recently visited a church that was new for her. She was so thrilled by their warm welcome and swag bag full of goodies that she couldn’t wait to call and share her experience. The gifts included a bible, coffee cup, sunglasses (this happened in the summer) and a prayer wristband. Nothing different, nothing novel but it made my sister feel good about them because they went the extra yard; and, thanked her for deciding to spend her Sunday morning with them. Remember even churches compete for attendees (members).

Isn’t that the end game for every brand? A customer’s experience should be so good that they share it with everyone else. When a brand has delivered a positive experience word of mouth is the best marketing ever! It elevates that brand above its competitor.

An excerpt from Forbes Senior Contributor Kimberly A. Whistler (Jul 17, 2014, 8:48 pm Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media) looks at the following facts:

“According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. “.

Okay that says it all. What gets 92% endorsement? Nothing these days. Those are really high numbers but let’s face it we believe people that we love and trust. So, when a family member or friend relays their positive interaction with the brand; we decide we want that experience too. In addition, the same article goes on to say:

“In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% say they have mastered it.”

So, based on those numbers there is tremendous opportunity in leveraging our customers experience to the point that they share it with others. But, how? Here are some of my personal favorites combining contemporary with old-school tactics.

Technology: Take advantage of social media platforms and technology formats. For example, send a thank you note after your customer’s experience with a social media link asking them to share their positive experience with your brand. Take time to encourage customers to post a video and write reviews on popular sites that customers use as references.

Give-Aways: Premiums are always long lasting opportunities to get your name out into the marketplace. And, customers always love multiple gifts that are functional and packed in a bag. Just make sure that we select gifts that are relevant and deemed valuable to our customers.

Personal Touch: Personal attention always works especially if you’re in the service business. A follow-up call WOWS the customers. It shows that you took the time to reach out to them.

Research: Traditional Surveys can be an inexpensive way to understand “word of mouth” through data. The net promoter score is a great way to gauge specific feedback – would you recommend this brand/product/experience to a friend/colleague? Data helps us gain insights from our customers; so, we can tweak their journey with our brand. This is especially true if it wasn’t a good experience.

Some of the above tactics are expensive; some of them aren’t but it’s very important to figure out what works best with our target customers. To know that there is so much opportunity to increase our word of mouth marketing versus paying for advertising is encouraging; and, let’s face it, we all need customers positively mouthing-off about our brands!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges. Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands.Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit. Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here. Read her blog

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