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My Gripe With Word Of Mouth Advertising

When I ask new or established businesses how they plan to market their products or services they answer “…mostly through word of mouth”. This answer drives me a little crazy!  Word Of Mouth(WOM)  doesn’t just happen!  Just like everything else, businesses need a plan and need to work the plan to generate WOM. In fact, some large corporations dedicate thousands and even millions to their WOM efforts. Julie Mierau focused a past post on serving up great customer service to help generate word of mouth. The theory being that if you give great service, people will talk about you. That is a great start and a must. Here are some tips that can even further that effort. These tips are taken from a presentation from Patrick Wire, Director of Business Development Director with BZZ Agent, a word of mouth marketing firm.


Be Outrageous – BUT make sure that you are remembered for what you want to be remembered for.  Here are “10 Great Guerilla Marketing Examples”  and “15 more Great Guerilla Marketing Examples” that get potential audiences thinking and/or laughing and hopefully, remembering. Note: Read on in the comments to see how some of these strategies can be used on a budget. As a local business in Southwest Iowa, keep in mind your target market and find outrageous ideas that target that exact audience.

  1. Help tell the customers story – Mr. Wire used the example of the Prius. The Prius focus’ their marketing efforts on environmentally minded people and has successfully placed the Prius as part of their “green” lifestyle. How can you put your product into the life story of your primary customer?

  2. Listen to What Customers are Asking For – Keep in touch with your customer and their lifestyle. What do they want. What do they complain about. What are they talking about on Facebook? How can you give them what they want? You may be going outside the “norm” of your industry but it is time to break that norm if it is what your customers want. For example: if all businesses in your industry price their service a certain way and you have noticed it is a frustration with customers it is time to break away from the “Everyone has always done it this way” attitude and deliver what your customers want.

Polarize – Create a Debate. Remember the classic Eyesore vs. Eyecandy campaign used by Scion? They successfully used the hate or love it attitude of the public and became hugely successful with their target market.

  1. Impose Rationing – Make what you have to offer seem scarce and customers will want it more. If you have t-shirts with your logo for sale – make them limited editions. If you are having an event at your restaurant limit it to a certain amount of people. My favorite example of this is from my favorite Minneapolis radio station, Cities 97. For over 20 years they have been producing the “Cities 97 Sampler”, a compellation of recent live performances and unique recordings. They Limit the number of cds produced and sold and the proceeds go to a local charity. They sell them at local Target stores and pre-announce the release date. They sell out in minutes! Since I don’t live in Minneapolis anymore my Mother closely watches for the release date and dutifully waits in line for my annual prized copy. (Love you Mom!) 8.

  2. Create an experience (this can be tied to impose rationing as well) create unique experiences for “customers only” by RSVP only, etc. Q98.5 Radio in Omaha, NE does this very well. They have a number of “parties” that they have listeners call in for limited tickets. If the caller is number 9 or whatever number they have chosen, they are lucky enough to get to go to the party. I haven’t been to any of these yet. 9 is not my lucky number!

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