Don’t let technology advances and new products fool you: Word of mouth marketing (WOM) is still one of the most popular marketing tools for small businesses. “Word of mouth marketing is a grassroots, guerrilla type of advertising,” says Mark Harari, director of marketing and chief storyteller at Remodelers Advantage. Says Bridgette Cude, writer for WordofMouth.org, “It’s the idea that if you’re remarkable and nice to your customers, then people will talk about you.” Here, Harari and Cude offer their best advice to maximize WOM's effectiveness.
Ask for Help and Plan Ahead
“If they provide great craftsmanship and high-quality work, remodelers think their clients will spread the word on their own. This is unlikely. Instead, they need to actively ask [clients] to participate as brand ambassadors,” Harari says. He advises remodelers to ask clients to provide referrals and testimonials, and to spread the word about their remodeling experience. Harari also argues for the necessity of a WOM plan. “There should be an element in your marketing plan specifically addressing WOM,” he says.
It could take a few years for WOM to pay off, however, especially for younger companies. "It's about solidifying yourself in the local market and having your brand out there," Harari says. Both Harari and Cude suggest going above and beyond in all jobs when a company is young and establishing itself. "Make sure every interaction you have knocks [the client's] socks off," Cude says. Providing better service than your clients ever thought possible will help you stick in their minds for a long time.
Be There for the Long-Term
Part of the difficulty with marketing a remodeling business is making sure you are the company that comes to a client’s mind when someone asks for a recommendation. To stick in a client’s mind, Cude suggests providing customers with gifts that they will keep for a long time, such as calendars or sticky notes printed with your company’s name and logo.
And both Cude and Harari suggest keeping in touch with clients after the remodel. “Handwritten notes are so important,” Cude says. “It gives [the clients] something in their hands to remind them of you.” Harari suggests sending clients a note or giving them a call a year after completing the remodel to check in. By doing this, remodelers are showing that they still care about their clients and also are making sure their name is fresh in the client’s mind."
Another way to increase WOM is to get involved in the community. “Support a little league team, hand out water bottles with your logo on them; make sure you’re visible and talking to people with a smile on your face,” Cude says.
Social Media Matters
While WOM can be no- to low-tech marketing, you should strongly consider incorporating social media into your WOM plan. Social media has greatly helped make WOM spread more easily, thanks to Facebook comments, Houzz reviews, and tweets that can link back to your company's profile or website. To maximize your WOM on social media, you'll want to have an active presence on the platforms that matter most to your company, sharing photos and stories about what your company is doing.
Cude stresses the shareability of posts. “Make sure everything you share is shareable across every single channel,” she says. “If you have a blog, make sure you have buttons for every relevant social media platform. Encourage people to share on Facebook and any other sites that will get you back in the front of people’s minds.”
Still need more convincing? WOM marketing is budget-friendly. “It’s virtually free,” Harari says. “The cost is going to be minimal unless you have some kind of extravagant rewards program in place.” Cude agrees, “you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get people to talk about you.”