Formalized word of mouth campaigns are making a big splash. Yesterday The Wall Street Journal discussed word of mouth marketing for businesses of all sizes (page A14).
The article features a product that is marketed by Buzz Agent – a word of mouth marketing firm based in Boston. Buzz Agent is one of the most effective and most renowned firms working in this space. I have seen their results first hand and they are impressive.
Here’s my question: When did word of mouth become such a specialized field? My dentist asks for referrals. The guy who makes my suits asks for referrals. My barber asks for referrals. None of these people pay the $95,000 that Buzz Agent charges for a typical campaign yet they are able to get many of their clients to tell other people about them. I’ve referred at least ten people to my dentist this year and I found him through a referral. Would I have referred twenty people if I were recruited to do so by a firm with slick brochures? Probably not.
So what do you get for spending that kind of money on a word of mouth campaign? It strikes me that the main advantage for hiring a firm like Buzz Agent is the savings in recruiting time and effort. These companies have a network of individuals that are ready, willing and able to talk about your product or service. This is particularly valuable if you are launching something new.
If you want to save the money associated with hiring a firm and a network, you can generate your own word of mouth campaign by talking to your existing customers. Collect e-mail addresses and stay in touch regularly. When you have something new to introduce, you can let them know and ask them to tell their friends. Maybe you can even provide them with an incentive for doing so – a discount on a product or service for every ten referrals.
Admittedly, there’s more to it than that but it won’t cost you $95,000 to find out what it is. It takes time and effort, but in the long run creating your own word of mouth campaign will strengthen your relationship with your customers.
Dave Lorenzo is an author, strategist and trusted advisor to some of the most successful companies and executives in the world.
He regularly shares his expertise through his weblogs:
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