Get noticed. Distinguish yourself from the competition. Create buzz. Be remarkable.
Books are written about these concepts. But it’s much easier said than done. Many small business owners struggle to do things that will get people talking about them. Buzz/Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t one of the primary 15 blocks on the SEO Success Pyramid, but it plays a vital role helping your business move up the pyramid and complementing your other marketing efforts.
What does positive word-of-mouth do for you?
- It leads to positive offline and online mentions of your business.
- It creates repeat customers and introduces new customers.
- It sometimes creates links.
- It brings you closer to the ultimate goal of trust.
As consumers, we place great value on the positive recommendations of friends and family; we trust what they tell us about products, services, and businesses. A Nielsen news release late last year had this headline: Word-of-Mouth [is] the Most Powerful Selling Tool.
How Do You Create Buzz?
Sometimes it comes from creating a remarkable product. Apple is the poster child of this. Traditional media and countless blogs hang on every word and product that Steve Jobs introduces.
Most small businesses don’t have that luxury, and never will.
Sure, plenty of small businesses have created great products. But they don’t have the world’s attention like Apple does; for small businesses, buzz is most often the result of creating great experiences for customers, of doing something that they have to tell their friends about. It’s usually about remarkable customer service. It’s about doing something out of the ordinary.
An Italian Restaurant’s Remarkable Customer Service
This is a great story: In Arizona last week, a man named Gerard Montemurro was in a car accident on his way to dinner at Marcellino Ristorante. It was raining hard. He called the restaurant to cancel his reservation.
They offered to drive out to the scene and pick him up.
The man turned them down. He waited a while for AAA to show up, but the freeway had to be closed and AAA wouldn’t be able to make it anytime soon. The guy and his friend were getting really hungry by now. I’ll let the Arizona Republic take over the story from here:
Hungry and soaking wet, he decided to call the restaurant back and take it up on the offer.
“He asked if I was kidding,” said Sima Verzino, co-owner of the restaurant. “And I asked, ‘Where are you?’ I told my husband and he grabbed the keys and he ran out of the door.”
Despite already closing their kitchen, Sima and her husband, Marcellino, left their restaurant and met Montemurro with some of Marcellino’s dry clothes for a quick change.
When they arrived at the restaurant, the Verzinos reopened the kitchen and served Montemurro and his friend antipasti salad, green salad, Italian bread with dipping sauce, pinot grigio, espresso and tiramisu.
Isn’t that fantastic? And that’s not all — after dinner, the restaurant owners drove Montemurro and his friend back to the scene of the accident. Incredible!
Great Buzz Can Come From Small Things, Too
That’s an amazing story of small business owners doing something big to serve a customer. But small things can kickstart positive word-of-mouth, too … like a personalized, handwritten note from a store employee or sending customers a unique Thank You card.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get customers talking about you. You do have to make a commitment, though, to going above and beyond what’s expected in everything you do. I love the advice that word-of-mouth evangelist Andy Sernovitz gave in an interview on the RKG blog:
Put a sign in every department, on the conference room wall, that says, “Would anybody tell a friend about this?”
It’s a magic question that raises the bar across the organization and development.
As long as I’m mentioning Andy’s name, I should encourage you to read and subscribe to his blog, Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That!. Besides having a great name, it’s a great resource for all things word-of-mouth.
Positive word-of-mouth is a must for any business, and it’s a key element of the SEO Success Pyramid. Getting people talking about you is a great complement to other types of marketing, and can make them more effective. Word of mouth happens when you do Big Things like driving to pick up a customer who was in a car accident, and when you do little things like sending personalized notes after an in-store visit.
It happens when you surprise and delight your customers.
It happens when you treat every customer like s/he’s the only one you have.