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Yes, selling stuff is important. But too often, a marketer’s focus on making (or saving) a buck comes at the expense of long-term revenue and word of mouth.

Here are three inspiring ways companies are looking at the bigger WOM picture:

1. Stand up for a cause
2. Empower your employees
3. Enable talkers

1. Stand up for a cause

Patagonia Cyber Monday ad

Photo thanks to Conversation Agent.

One Cyber Monday (the online version of Black Friday), Patagonia did something weird: They told their customers not to buy their stuff, but instead to “Reduce, Repair, Reuse, and Recycle.” It was completely different from the other “hurry and buy this!” ads on the huge shopping day. This counterintuitive idea probably cost them a few sales for the day, but imagine how many new fans and customers they earned in the long term. Your customers want to support something larger than themselves and your products — it’s these kinds of brand decisions that help customers become your advocates.

2. Empower your employees

Tesco produce

Photo thanks to Brandchannel.

We’ve all brought home delicious-looking produce that just ends up deteriorating in your vegetable drawer. But food waste is becoming a serious problem. So instead of encouraging people to buy more produce, grocery chain Tesco trained their employees to pass on food sustainability tips to their customers. Instead of pushing up-sells and cross-promotions, Tesco employees are educating customers — and educational content is a lot more likely to spread. Think about it: Would you tell your friend about Tesco’s sale on bananas or a tip you learned about how to keep them from bruising?

3. Enable talkers

Community member dropping off her old coffee maker.

Photo thanks to News & Record.

Keurig is famous for giving away tons of their brewing machines — in fact, they once let an entire neighborhood trade in their old coffee-makers for a Keurig. Since the brewing appliance is their biggest and most expensive product, it seems like a bad idea to just give it away. But according to Keurig, their real value comes from the word of mouth owners spread to other people. By giving away some machines, they give tons of new people a reason to show off their stuff to friends and family.

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