Word of mouth is one of the most powerful drivers of traffic and sales for retailers. According to McKinsey, it’s the primary factor behind 20 – 50% of all buying decisions and can influence purchases in ways that traditional advertising can’t.

Word of mouth is like the holy grail of marketing. And to help you tap into it, we’ve compiled some tips that you can put into action in your store.

Offer exceptional products and customer service

When you have a truly outstanding product or mouth-watering food to offer, many of your customers will talk about your place all on their own. So before you cook up word of mouth gimmicks or referral programs, make sure that you’re blowing away shoppers with fantastic products and customer service.

Invest in your products or food items and cuisines. Use high-quality materials, see if you can present them better, and highlight the ways how they are superior to others. In the same vein, you should also invest in your staff. Allocate resources for staff training and happiness. Come up with ways to keep your employees engaged and motivated.

You’ll find that these investments can pay off in the form of delighted, raving customers who tell all their friends about you. It’s better to invest in quality product and great service with the hope that the customers will become advocates. It has been found that if you can exceed customers’ expectations, they want to share and spread the word .

Spell it out for customers

Sometimes, you need to give people a little reminder to spread the word about your brand. You can do this in-store by putting subtle prompts around your shop to get people to talk about your delicacies or how you present a particular dish etc.

This can result in your Facebook page being filled with customer photos and comments. Aside from getting people talking, having all that social proof also increases the likelihood that people will come there to try out your stuff.

The key takeaway here? You can get people talking (or posting) just by reminding them to do so. If you have amazing products that customers love, ask them to spread the word. There’s a big chance that they’ll say yes.

Identify and engage brand advocates

Recognize that people have varying word of mouth potentials. Some people are more likely to make referrals compared to others. The key is to identify individuals who are most likely to recommend you to their friends, and then reach out to them.

How do you zero in on these people? Turn to your best customers. Go through shopper data and find people who have purchased or come most often to your outlet. This can be managed by a POS system having a complete CRM. From there, create a campaign to encourage word of mouth and referrals.

Consider doing something similar in your business. Rather than targeting everyone with a word of mouth campaign, do research on your top customers.  Determine who they are, and figure out the best way to approach them.

 

Run an influencer campaign

Pay attention to the people that your customers are listening to. Aside from their friends and relatives, are there bloggers, social media personalities who influence their decisions? Find these individuals and use their platform to spread the word about your brand.

Tip

Want to improve your influence outreach results?

  1. Look for middle-level influencers; they aren’t as expensive to work with and often they’re still at the stage where they are flattered to be contacted by brands. Sometimes you can find influencers who are willing to do a review on social media if you welcome them for tasting your food or gift them with some goodies.
  1. Look for influencers who may have mentioned your place before but do not regularly do so. It may be that they enjoyed your meals, but they just aren’t top of their mind or they can’t afford to come regularly. Just inviting them over for a free lunch/dinner – no strings attached – with a personalized note saying thanks for talking about our place – can get you a few new mentions.

 

Build communities

Getting people together through events, clubs, and whatnot can organically generate word of mouth. When people are part of a community, they’re more likely to spread the word — and even recruit — like minded individuals.

If you have a highly engaged customer base, you’re in a perfect position to implement a community building initiative. Come up with ways (hint: ask your customers) to bring people together in a fun or even educational way. Be it through meet-ups, online groups, or classes, see if you can launch something that would cultivate relationships and get people talking.