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Word of mouth marketing starts with the very thing people will talk about: your topic. Some come about organically and some are planned — but all word of mouth topics could spread further and faster when you think about these three critical questions about your talkers:

1. What would your talkers say?
2. Who would they tell?
3. How could they tell more people?

1. What would your talkers say?

Think about the actual words your customers would say when they tell someone about you: “They make burritos the size of babies.” “Their employees are great listeners.” “Their products are hand-signed by the people who made them.” This is your word of mouth topic. Keep it short, make it easy to repeat, and most of all, make it worth repeating. Think you’ve got a good one? Test it by telling a few people and asking them to repeat it back.

2. Who would they tell?

Who do your customers and talkers know? Who has a big influence on your potential customers? Hint: They don’t have to be the typical celebrity endorsers to make an impact. For example, to get high-schoolers to drink more milk, the American Dairy Association of Ohio reached out to high-school coaches to tell them about the benefits of drinking milk after working out. Soon after, chocolate milk was flying off the shelves.

3. How could they tell more people?

Help your word of mouth topic spread further. Surprise your clients with a cheesecake they can share with the whole office instead of a cookie made for one — it costs a little extra, but it goes the extra mile to reach a whole bunch of people. Or, go for long-term word of mouth by giving away stuff like calendars, plants, and other stuff with your logo that will stay on someone’s desk longer. Give them five coupons instead of one or a few extra samples to share with a friend.

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