Whilst you’ll never be able to totally control what people are saying about you, you certainly can influence it.

What makes word of mouth such an important influencer?
Word of mouth is powerful because people are social, they like to talk to each other and pass on stories, good or bad. The power of word of mouth lies in the credibility and independence of the source, and the ability of this “credible and “independent” source to provide your prospects with an indirect experience of your business.

What does a “word-of-mouth” marketing campaign look like?
Most of us are probably running some initiatives aimed at creating positive word of mouth about our business. There are two important rules of word of mouth marketing; provide incentives to participate in word of mouth; and always ask for word of mouth (ask your prospects to talk to their friends about you.)

So how can a business harness word of mouth?
Here are some ideas:
Use experts in your marketing. They will become your biggest supporters and will be willing to tell stories about their experiences.
Find your other key influencers and provide them with an experience of your business they can talk about and then encourage them to talk about it.
Make use of the internet.
Use peer selling whenever possible in your campaigns to provide the indirect experience.
Use your newsletters to provide simple stories that people are able to repeat.
Never forget the importance of internal staff in talking about you and providing a “virtual experience”.
Proliferate true stories that are simple and easy to repeat.

But be careful!
There are two major pitfalls in word of mouth marketing. The first is that it cannot ever be controlled, only influenced. A scary prospect for “control freaks” until they remember that, no matter what you do, people are going to talk about you anyway. The second is that people are much more likely to repeat a bad story than a good story. You provide someone with a bad experience and they will talk about this before they talk about any of their good experiences.