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When you create a word of mouth marketing program you're bound to get new clients coming through the door. The trouble is that most salon owners think that word of mouth marketing is all about schmoozing.
While schmoozing can be efficient (it costs very little), it does not always qualify as word of mouth marketing. So what would qualify as word of mouth marketing?
Before I get into that, let's put first things first and define word of mouth marketing (WOMM), so we're on the same page.
WOMM is the "act of consumers providing information to other consumers."
Since word of mouth marketing is about giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, you have to make it easier for them to have that conversation in order for it to work.
So how do you make it easier for people to have that conversation? By creating a word of mouth marketing mindset where you:
- Recognize a happy client is your greatest endorsement. Work to create client enthusiasm rather than simply pushing marketing messages.
- Listen to clients. Engage them in open conversation and respond to their concerns (both positive and negative) as well as their suggestions. Create a blog and other tools to share information. Track online and offline conversations by fans and detractors alike. Listen and respond to both positive and negative conversations.
- Give clients tools that make it easier for them to share their opinions. Develop "tell a friend" tools and promotions. Create publicity and promotions that encourage conversations. Create fan pages and forums.
- Engage your community by finding the right people and connecting them to each other. Identify people who are able to influence your target market. Inform these influencers about what you do and encourage them to spread the word. Support good faith issues and causes that are important to these influencers.
Frankly, there are dozens of word of mouth marketing techniques geared towards helping people talk to each other about your products and services. The list is too long to publish in this e-zine.
However, here's a short list of some of the most common techniques business owners use to create strong word of mouth business.
Viral Marketing: Creating informative or entertaining messages designed to be passed along by e-mail or text. The right viral message multiples the number of people receiving it exponentially.
Buzz Marketing: Using news or high-profile entertainment to get people to talk about your salon / spa.
Community Marketing: Form fan clubs, user groups, or discussion forums that are likely to share their interest about you. You'll want to provide tools, content, and information to support these communities.
Cause Marketing: Support social causes to earn the support and respect from people who feel strongly about the cause.
Conversation Creation: E-mails, catch phrases, advertising, and promotions designed to start word of mouth.
Product Seeding: Place the right products in the right hands at the right time. Provide information or samples to influential clients.
Referral Programs: Create programs that enable satisfied clients to tell their friends.
When it comes to word of mouth marketing, you'll want to remember a couple of things:
First, any practice that is intended to deceive people is unethical and should not be used. For example, spam (sending bulk or unsolicited e-mail or other messages without permission) and stealth marketing (any practice designed to deceive people about the involvement of marketing in a communication).
Second, word of mouth marketing can not be faked. It's based on the honest opinions of real people, so impersonation, shilling, or hiding identities is both dishonest and extremely counterproductive.
If you're relying on being a good schmoozer to create more clients, you'll want to think about how to put your schmooze on stereoids and use one or more of the word of mouth marketing systems named above.
(c) Andrew Finkelstein.