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Some of the best word of mouth ideas are the ones that build on something already in place — the ones that work with what you’ve got to make something even more remarkable.

Here’s how you can embed word of mouth into a current process, your existing customer base, and your traditional advertising:

1. Know where to find your best talkers
2. Do something remarkable for existing customers
3. Make the most of your traditional advertising

1. Know where to find your best talkers

To get more people registered as an organ donor, Gift of Life Michigan was using a ton of resources setting up booths at local events. They were working incredibly hard, but they weren’t seeing results. That is, until they discovered their ideal talkers: DMV employees. By getting DMV clerks to ask each person if they’d like to become an organ donor, they enabled someone who talks to people all over Michigan every day to spread the word. The results: They earned over one million new donors in just the first few years.

2. Do something remarkable for existing customers

Volvo delivery service

Photo thanks to PSFK.

Volvo offers a delivery service that brings packages to their customers’ cars using GPS and a digital key that’s deactivated once the package is dropped off. That’s something their Volvo owners will tell a friend about no matter how long they’ve had their car. You don’t have to do something as techie and complicated as this to earn word of mouth from your customers. Just remember that it’s easier to amaze (and keep) the customers you already have than to chase new ones.

3. Make the most of your traditional advertising

Old Spice ad with phone number

Photo thanks to Ad Age.

We’ve all spotted those fake phone numbers in ads and TV shows before: the ones that start with “555” so some poor soul doesn’t get prank called by hundreds of people. But the number that appeared in this Old Spice ad wasn’t a fake. In fact, when one guy decided to call it, Old Spice answered and surprised him by giving him tickets to the Super Bowl. It was a one-off, weird campaign, but that Easter egg turned an ad for the masses into a word of mouth opportunity. How are you creating moments of surprise and delight like these?

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