The 4 Most Important Rules of Word of Mouth Marketing

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When you focus on earning the respect and recommendation of customers, they'll do your advertising for you, for free, forever. You can get started today without spending any extra money. You don't need a budget, a big staff, or an advanced marketing degree to do it. You just need to keep these four rules in mind when getting started:

Your job is to make it easy for happy customers to talk about you…

1. Be interesting or be invisible:
Nobody talks about boring companies, boring products, boring ads, or boring sales pitches. Most of your competitors are boring — but you don't have to be. It just takes effort, hustle, and a little creativity. A good rule of thumb is to check your sales proposal, your copy, or your ad — if you can replace your name and logo with a competitor's and it still works, it's time to start over.

2. Make people happy:
Create amazing experiences. Provide excellent service. Go the extra mile. Make sure the work you do gets people energized, excited, and eager to tell a friend. Because if you don't — even if you do make the sale — customers aren't going to recommend you. Nobody is going to suggest their friends go through an awkward, boring, or uncomfortable shopping or customer service experience.

3. Earn trust and respect:
Nobody talks about a company they don't trust or don't like. Earn the respect of your customers. Be good to them. Talk to them. Honor their intelligence. Fulfill their needs. Stay honest. Every company can be nicer, and every one of us can work to make our company a little better to its customers.

4. Make it easy:
Your job is to make it easy for happy customers to talk about you. Find a simple topic that is easy to repeat. It's not your formal brand statement, nor is it your product description. (Think “They give you free ice cream while you wait!” or “Their software doesn't crash!”) And forget the elevator pitch — it's the pass-in-the-hall test. What can people tell a friend about you in one sentence? What will they pass on about you?

Andy Sernovitz teaches word of mouth marketing. He is the author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking and CEO of WordofMouth.org and SocialMedia.org.