Wiser small business owners know to leverage social media opportunities for the spreading of positive brand sentiment. After all, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are built specifically for disseminating ideas to friends, and then further outwards to friends of friends. But let’s not forget that good old fashioned offline word-of-mouth is arguably even more powerful.
Studies show that in certain industries – beauty, beverages, finance and fashion, for example – conversations about brands are more likely to happen offline than online. It’s true that offline word-of-mouth marketing generally doesn’t allow small businesses to tap into existing idea sharing networks with millions of participants, but the power of “real life” interactions is huge. Remember being impressed by physical products you touched, or being more likely to trust someone if they looked you in the eye?
These are lasting impressions that can help win customers over and get them involved with potent brand evangelism. A spoken recommendation is the main influencing factor in up to half of all purchases, according to research by McKinsey & Company.
If your website is a marketing tool for a business that involves interacting with actual humans (and not just their avatars), then there’s plenty you can be doing to market yourself with word-of-mouth. Read on for some smart offline word-of-mouth marketing tips.
1. Host classes related to your products.
If there’s a learning curve involved with using the things you sell, show your customers how to get started. If your products are more accessible than that, teach people how to use them like experts, or how to use them in unexpected ways. Make sure everyone has fun and learns something, and they’ll walk away wanting to tell others about the great experience they had.
2. Maintain high levels of honesty and integrity.
Customers go out on a limb when they recommend you, so make sure they feel secure trusting you with their reputations.
3. Empower your team members to make an impression.
Give your employees swag and samples that they can share with friends and family when they’re off duty. Grant them the authority to give customers extra flexibility when it comes to policies, and you’ll empower them to share the love of your brand. Encourage them to engage in conversation – and not necessarily only about your products – with prospects, and those prospects may soon be talking about you and your team in their own conversations.
4. Get involved with events hosted by others.
This could be conventions, trivia nights at bars, trade shows, fan expos, concert series – you name it. Think about where your target audience hangs out, and make your presence known there, as a presenter, sponsor or mingler. At the very least, you’ll be exposing your brand to a relevant crowd. Best case, you’ll win some people over with your expertise.
5. Turn snafus into victories.
That botched delivery or mistaken order detail doesn’t need to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth. Mistakes happen. Apologize, go above and beyond when rectifying these situations, top it off with a free gift, and you’ll make a great impression.