Word of mouth - the real stuff
Any marketing pro will tell you that all advertising, press coverage, SEO and the like is just a temporary aid for those who have fat budgets to burn. The real thing you should always be after, small or big, is word of mouth - happy customers spreading the word about you.
The reasons for this are pretty apparent. Are you more likely to trust a recommendation from a newspaper or someone you know personally? Which is more efficient: shooting an ad in the space hoping it will be noticed by your potential client or a live person thinking "Joe might need this too"? And to top that it costs you nothing and fuels itself like a chain reaction: the more clients you get the more your message gets spread.
All of this is as far from being news as it gets. But the problem is that it appears as if you don't have any control over the process - it either works or it doesn't.
Well, you do.
Making word of mouth work
1) Build a great product.
Seriously, do it. If your product or service is useless or badly executed no amount of marketing is going to save it. If you disappoint your customers, word of mouth will work against you. And as a destructive force it's ten fold more efficient - the force is stronger on the dark side they say. So go check your priority list now. Excellence should be filed under #1.
2) Give an extra incentive.
People are lazy (nothing wrong with that!). Even if someone is happy with what they got from you it's rarely enough reason to go out of their way to spread your message. So give them a stronger reason. A discount, a VIP client status, anything that has value to them. Choosing an appropriate reward is a topic that deserves its own post or even a series (and we'll cover it for sure), but the basic idea is this: make sure their effort pays off and it'll do wonders.
3) Encourage the use of modern communication channels.
Back when the term "word of mouth" was invented it meant just that: customers recommending the product to others in conversation. These days you can get your message spread a gazillion times faster if it's spread via social media and email.
4) Make it easy.
Again, people are lazy. If you manage to remove that little extra effort needed to recommend you to someone you'll turn much more clients into embassadors of your brand.
InviteBox to the rescue
You'll see it in the evening news when we come up with a solution that turns crappy products into great ones. But for now you can try our less ambitious tool InviteBox to address the rest of the points in an instant.
InviteBox is a widget you can place on your website that makes it really easy for the user to spread your message to their social network or email contacts and gives you means to reward them for it right there and then.
Check out invitebox.com to see for yourself how it works.