4 rules of word of mouth marketing

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Let’s get back to the basics. Word of mouth marketing is all about your topic, talkers, tools to start conversations, taking part in those conversations, and tracking them. But none of those things work if you don’t follow these four rules first:

1. Be interesting
2. Make it easy to talk about
3. Make people happy
4. Earn trust and respect

1. Be interesting

Before you do anything, always ask, “Would anyone tell a friend about this?” It sounds simple, but that’s because you don’t have to revamp your business just make something worth talking about. For example, Totino’s Pizza Rolls created a site with ridiculous articles about pizza, fake banner ads for pizza attorneys, weird video sketches about pizza, and pizza cat memes. They didn’t try to chase the healthy trend with gluten-free crust or organic cheese — they just created some off-the-wall content they knew would get attention and make their customers laugh.

2. Make it easy to talk about

People aren’t going to recite you mission statement to their friends or retell your company history no matter how great it is. Go for one-sentence word of mouth messages instead. “Their sandwiches are huge,” “For each pair of shoes you buy, they give one to charity,” “Their employees bend over backwards to make you happy.” These portable conversations are easier to share, and they carry more information about your business’ personality than you think.

3. Make people happy

People will talk about you if you make them mad too. But to earn raving fans, it’s about more than customer service — we’re talking about do-whatever-it-takes, wow-worthy customer service. That means the case-by-case stuff, like working hard to earn back an upset customer, as well as the everyday stuff, like simple returns or when an airline doesn’t charge baggage fees. The more ways your company embeds customer happiness into how you do business, the more happy customers you’ll have to talk about you.

4. Earn trust and respect

You wouldn’t recommend a restaurant to a friend if your server was rude, you wouldn’t recommend a hotel to someone if they charged you a bunch of petty fees, and you wouldn’t talk positively about a company who you know treats their employees poorly. Great companies earn trust and respect not just from making great products, but through honorable ethics, high-standards, and by just being nice.


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  1. Marijan Ogorevc

    Searching the web for word of mouth marketing I found this very informative article. I have one question – for my new project I am using rather long one-sentence word of mouth message:

    “Make a small donation to the charity organization of your choice and your name will be engraved on the monumental glass sculpture, where it will stay … FOREVER!”

    Is it too long? I tried to make it shorter, but then I lose the whole meaning.

    Kind Regards

  2. Bridgette Cude

    Hey Marijan,

    That’s great that you’re trying to develop a short word of mouth message — and it sounds like an interesting one!

    The most important thing is that it’s something your talkers can easily repeat. So test it!

    Try it out on some people you know. Ask them how they would paraphrase it. And don’t worry about getting your entire concept into one sentence. Your word of mouth message is meant to get someone’s attention so they’ll look deeper into the details of your project.

    Hope that helps!
    Bridgette of WordofMouth.org

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