For as long as people have been buying things, the recommendations of friends and family have always had some level of influence on our buying decisions. Personal recommendations still help to influence the trust we place in certain products, even though technology has forever changed the way people interact and it has become much easier to dismiss the human element in business and marketing.
In today’s technology driven environment, people have become more widely connected that ever before. Intelligent marketing has therefore become more about delivering truly human experience to your target audience rather than just creating a brand message. Small business owners who have tapped into this aspect of marketing are the ones with the access to the most influential form of information consumers utilize when making buying decisions: word-of-mouth marketing.
Even though the concept of word-of-mouth marketing sounds simple, it’s far more difficult in practice. Developing buzz worthy messages that go viral is no easy task.
Even though over half of all small business owners in the U.S. anticipate their business growing in 2015, 56 percent report investing less than 3 percent on marketing, according to the Small Business Report. When small business owners do invest, they are more likely to consider traditional forms of advertising or focus on how to attract new customers instead of connecting with them.
So how do you transform the typical consumer into a living breathing brand advocate that passionately refers you to friends and family? How do you start the conversations that make people want to talk about your brand and share your message with their social network? Here are a few concepts to keep in mind.
Identify and Target Your Influencers
Consider an influence anyone who actively blogs or uses social media and has the ability to promote your brand and its message. True influencers have the ability to not only create awareness, but to also drive action. It’s undeniable that consumers today trust a third party far more than they trust the brands they buy. Getting out the right message to influencers makes for a highly effective way to market that, when done correctly, can trigger explosive growth for your business.
Take for example a recent Lysol campaign in China, where the company’s growth had stagnated outside of the most densely populated cities. To help build awareness for its brand, Lysol distributed 48,000 samples to 4,000 moms they had identified as an influencer. Each influencer was given their own sample kit and 10 more they could give away to friends and family. The campaign proved hugely successful, and Lysol was able to increase its brand awareness five fold and increase sales by 86 percent in just two months.
Make a Human Connection
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is well-known for making the wishes of seriously ill children come true. Of course having a well-known brand is significantly different than getting people to talk about your brand. But when the nonprofit transformed the streets of San Francisco into Gotham City for one child’s dream of becoming a hero, the legend of Batkid was born.
This extraordinary campaign generated an incredible amount of word-of-mouth attention, as Make-A-Wish received over 1.8 million social media impressions, more than 550,000 hashtags and considerable press coverage that resulted in an influx of donations and permanent goodwill to the foundation’s future efforts.
Keep Involving the Community
Red Bull continues to stay relevant in conversations because the company never stops hosting festive events that engage the community. Among the programs Red Bull utilizes that allow them to remain an industry leader include:
Red Bull Wings Team featuring young men and women that drive around town in Red Bull branded vehicles handing out free product samples.
Student brand manager programs that sponsors students to build awareness about the brand at events near their campus.
Red Bull reporter programs that sponsor film and journalism students to create stories and buzz for the brand.
By continuously going out into and engaging with their community, Red Bull never allows its brand to become stale or overtaken by a competitor.
While building a successful word-of-mouth marketing campaign isn’t easy, the benefits this type of campaign offer are easily worth the effort. Remember to identify who in your target audience ranks as the biggest influencer, show the human side of your business and always stay connected to your community at large and your business will be well on it’s way to becoming what everyone if talking about.