How to Create Word of Mouth Magic

I had an amazing experience the other day, so amazing that I just had to share it with you. I received, in the mail, a big gift-wrapped pink-box. Inside the box was a pink salad bowl, a VIP membership card, and a letter. The sender, a New York City healthy salad-to-go restaurant chain called Just Salad, apparently had just awarded me with number 17 of a total 100 limited edition VIP Pink Bowls.

I was excited, of course, and read the letter, which informed me that my loyalty had earned me the Pink Bowl. More important, the letter informed me that I could now enjoy line-skipping privileges, free toppings and other perks, as long as I brought in my Pink Bowl.

Well, obviously I knew where I had to have lunch that day. As I walked into the always-crowded Just Salad with my Pink Bowl, I immediately felt like a VIP. I walked past a line of about 40 people, several of which were literally ooh-ing and ah-ing at my Pink Bowl as I walked. I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea with my Pink Bowl.

“Where’d he get that?” I heard. “I’ve never seen one!” I heard. It was incredible. When I got to front of the long line, the woman waiting at the front said, in a typical New York City rushed-town, “Excuse me! Haven’t you seen this line?”

I gently held up my Pink Bowl, and she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see your Bowl.”

Apparently, Just Salad has done some promotion around this Pink Bowl campaign. Anyway, I approached the counter, and heard the staffer say “Wow, this is the first Pink Bowl customer I’ve had!” I got my free chicken topping, and I was soon on my way. When I got back to the office, within a few minutes, 30 people at Likeable had heard the story. It soon appeared on Twitter and Facebook. Now it’s here.I had an amazing experience with my Pink Bowl. Guess where I had lunch the next day? And the day after that? For the cost of a bowl, shipping, and a free topping, ($20?) the small business reached thousands of customers and prospects.

 

I’ve been a regular Just Salad customer for a while now, and frankly, I’m not sure whether I got the Pink Bowl because of my loyalty or my influence. But I can tell you this: Just Salad’s Pink Bowl campaign to me and others is a reminder of the timeless formula of word of mouth (WOM) marketing success:

Great Product + Loyalty Marketing + Influencer Marketing = WOM Magic

Let’s dissect this formula for success and talk about how you can benefit:

1) The fundamental priority is to create a great product. A great product or service is worth talking about to your friends. Just Salad has these cool orange and green reusable salad bowls, dozens of different salad options, and provides fresh, fast, healthy lunches. It’s worth talking about to begin with. On the other hand, if you don’t have a great product, no amount of marketing is going to make a difference.

2) Reward loyal customers in a fun way. Your loyal customers are the ones most passionate about your great product or service, and they’re the ones most likely to talk about you. So give them something to talk about. And give them a reason to keep coming back.

3) Give influential customers something to talk about. Long before social media, you had some customers and prospects that were more influential than others: the captain of the football team, or the President of the P.T.A., or guy who organizes all of the golf outings. Thanks to social media, you can now identify your most influential customers more easily than ever. For instance, you can use Klout or Kred, services that measure how many Twitter followers and Facebook friends take action when people post.

Here are 5 examples for how different companies and individuals can leverage word of mouth magic with their customers and prospects:

1) A real estate agent sends a beautiful bottle of wine to an influential prospect – before the sale.

2) A software company launches in Beta with exclusive free access to a limited group of Twitter influencers.

3) A law firm lands a new client – the biggest manufacturing company in the city – and sends out big cookie baskets to all of the execs the next day.

4) An insurance saleswoman finds the top-connected people on LinkedIn in town, and mails them all Starbucks gift cards.

5) A restaurant offers free dessert to all of its frequent diners.

If you have a great product, and can get your loyal, influential customers talking about it, you will create word of mouth magic. Getting lots of the right people talking about you in a positive way is more valuable than any advertising – and thanks to social media, word of mouth magic can spread faster and further than ever before.

Just Salad did just that with me, and now many thousands of people know about it.

How can you create some Word of Mouth Magic for your business?

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