Word of mouth marketing isn’t luck. It’s a strategy anyone can craft. Think about the brands in your life. I’ll bet you can describe what each is about in a few words.
Apple is about design.
Nike is about human performance.
Walmart is about saving money.
Liquid Death is about murdering your thirst (with cans).
You’re obviously not a household name like the brands on this list, but you can use the same strategy at the heart of these companies to generate word of mouth for your business.
Start with your thing
Most companies struggle here. They can’t name what their thing is which means it’s highly doubtful customers can name anything meaningful about the company. Don’t worry if this is you. Finding the solution is fairly simple.
All you have to do is define how you want people to describe your company to friends. Do this and you’ll know your thing. Try this brand positioning framework I call the word of mouth hack to vocalize it…
You have to try [your company name here] they [remarkable thing you want customers telling friends].
Take a minute to fill that out right now. If you can’t vocalize the one thing that makes you remarkable, how do you expect your customers to tell their friends?
There isn’t anything more important than knowing who you want to be as a company. This one insight will inform every decision you make. Flipping things around and thinking about how you want customers vocalizing this makes it a little easier to get out of your own way.
Different is better than better
When defining your thing, don’t settle for better. Better is an incremental improvement. Better often isn’t enough for buyers to make a change unless it’s substantially better than other options.
I’ll give you an example, there may be other accountants who are better than mine, but the incremental improvement I’d see isn’t enough to make me go through the pain of switching. The same thing is true for CPG (consumer packaged goods), luxury products, and all other professional services. I’m loyal to certain brands. Slight improvements aren’t going to make me switch.
Better only works if you already have market share. Better is a way to protect your business and stay ahead. You don’t have to be different because you’re the standard.
Apple was different and now they’re better. They separated from all forms of competition by being something fresh and different, but they stay ahead by being better.
Flipping that script is difficult. Better won’t help you break in if you’re the new product fighting for attention. Like me, people are loyal to brands. It’s hard to break habits, patterns, and loyalty with better.
Different on the other hand, that’s something fresh and new we need to try. Breakout categories come from different, not better. Unicorns come from different, not better. Explosive growth comes from different, not better. People tell their friends about different, not better.
Study your competition and find where you can be different in a way that matters to a specific group of people. Be the option for those folks rather than an option for everyone.
Now put the words in your customers’ mouths
Once you’ve found where you’re going to hang your hat as a company, you have to make it easy to see. Everywhere a customer looks should scream your one thing.
The goal is to arm your customers with the language you want them sharing with friends. This happens through consistency. Some organizations we work with scoff at the idea of a brand message guideline. They feel they don’t need it because they know how to talk about their business. These are usually the same companies with different messages coming from sales people, social media, their website, and marketing.
Take the time to write down how to talk about your business. Create a brand script for everyone to follow. Do that and the identity you want will start to take shape. Customers will steal your words to tell their friends about you. Next thing you know word will be spreading.
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