This guest post is written by one of our integrations, Stamped.io, an app which effectively gathers and moderates user-content from your customers.

Word of mouth marketing is arguably the most desired form of marketing. If you play your cards right, your customers will do all the hard work for you.

That feeling when your existing customers start recommending your product to their friends and colleagues it’s truly priceless.

It just goes to show how much they love your product.

According to a study by Nielsen, Earned media (aka word-of-mouth) is 92% more effective than all other forms of advertising.

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While some products and services naturally produce chatter, there are always certain things you can do to encourage word of mouth. Although it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Getting your customers’ attention in this day and age when their emails and social media platforms are filled with promotional messages from other companies is a challenge in itself. You could easily annoy them and end up losing a customer instead of adding one.

Your customers have more choices than ever. Price comparison is only a few clicks away. So how do you get their attention?

In this article, we will look at 5 ideas that will get your customers to talk about you to their peers.

  1. Offer something in return

“I don’t want that free item I really like,” said no one ever.

We all love some free stuff from time to time. If it’s something your customers like, they will likely go an extra mile to get it.

Let’s say you want reviews for a certain product. What incentive do they have to write a review for you? Nothing. If they are advocates of your brand, they might go for it, but majority of your customers are not your fans (just yet).

Stamped.io is a great tool for this. It enables you to collect reviews from actual customers and use their words to promote your business. It lets you send emails to your customers automatically and request them to provide reviews for their recent transaction.

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The software also integrates with LoyaltyLion to increase the engagement rate through rewarding points to customers for performing any activity on your website. The activity could be reviews, signups, referrals or anything else.

It’s you who gets to decide the activity and points. Once the customer has enough points they can redeem them with the store for rewards.

LoyaltyLion’s dashboard provides the data to show you exactly how your program is performing. You can see the return you’re getting from all the engagement.

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  1. Jab, jab, jab, right hook

Understanding what excites your customers about your product is very crucial. The best way to do this is by conducting interviews. Just pick up the phone and give them a call.

At worst they will hang up on you, but look at the upside, you could end up getting more customers. It really is a no-brainer for an entrepreneur. You will only need at most 10 interviews to see the patterns.

See how they phrase the story of your product. Get comfortable with them. Don’t be afraid to ask things that have nothing to do with your product.

At the end of it, ask that big question: If you were to recommend this product to your friend, what would you tell them?

In response to this question, they will not only tell you what they like best about your product but also what they would tell their friend if/when they actually do recommend it.

  1. Make it super easy to reach you

 There are so many things your customers could be busy with. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram takes up all their time. Maybe they don’t even glance at the emails you send them.

To remedy this, ask your customers to share their experiences on social media while they’re at it. Are you selling headphones? Give out points to people who tweet a selfie with your headphones and a customized hashtag.

This is a great way to engage people conveniently. All they have to do is take a selfie. When they eventually do post the selfie, their followers/friends will see the post – advertising your brand in the process for free.

Curious souls would even visit your website and depending on the reach of your customer, people may actually buy your headphones.

  1. Ditch the pitch. Tell a story instead

Get rid of that sales pitch that you have memorized. It’s a big turn off. You should instead focus on engaging customer by learning about their needs. When they understand your priority is to really solve their problem(s), they would be more than happy to pay for it.

Storytelling is an art. It is one of the best ways to stay on top of your customer’s mind. There is a fine line between boring story and an interesting one.

Every great story has interesting characters (customers or employees) doing extraordinary things (using your products and services in innovative ways) told in an authentic way (no sales pitches) and reinforced with great visuals.

When you think about it, the concept of storytelling isn’t new, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority.

Marketers have been telling stories for the longest time. Whether it be through advertising,  in-person brand experiences or through social media. The critical element of brand storytelling lies in fiction writing, which marketers are trained to do.

Here are some secrets of telling the most effective stories — the ones that stay with customers.

Know your audience

If you don’t know your audience, you will likely fail at telling your story. Period.

When I say know your audience I just don’t mean their gender, location, age etc. I want you to know whom they admire, what they aspire to, despise, fear, and cherish.

Understanding your audience at such an intimate level makes creating buyer personas important.

People buy Apple because they buy into the story. Same goes for Harley Davidson or any other cult(ish) brand. There is a community behind it that is very passionate about the product. The story is what they believe in.

Honesty is key 

Even when you’re crafting stories, you need to make sure they are rooted in the reality of your brand, products and industry. Even brand stories adhere to the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency, persistence and restraint.

You brand stories can’t be inconsistent. If they confuse consumers, they will turn towards another brand. They have plenty of options. Be creative and avoid confusion.

Infuse your stories with personalities

Personalities and characters must take centre stage in your storytelling. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.

Choose your premise

The premise is the way you choose to tell the story so that you get the conclusion you desire. It’s the delivery of the framed message with dramatic tension and one or more relatable heroes so that your goals are achieved.

Include a beginning, middle, and end

 In case you haven’t noticed, fictional stories follow a structure that includes a beginning, a middle and an end. Make sure your brand stories follow a similar structure.

Establish the story with characters in the beginning. The middle should outline the problems of your characters and present conflicts that get in the way and finally a solution in the end — your product. 

Also, don’t show all your cards at the first attempt. Leave your audience wanting more, and they’ll come back to you again and again.

  1. Tell them how to talk about you

Majority of people are passive consumers — they will use your product, silently form an opinion about it and never really influence other prospective customers.

That’s the reason why you need to explicitly ask for the mention. Be clear what you want, where you want it, and the text to copy and paste.

Change.org does this really well. Once you sign a petition, they take you to a page where you only need to just add a personal message and with one single, click the petition is shared with your Facebook friends. 

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To conclude, getting customer attention is hard. They will only talk about you if they like your product a lot. So, first and foremost make sure you have an above par product with little to no glitches.

There will be times when you will fall flat face down. Your customer would not want to talk to you, let alone recommending your product to others. That’s not a problem. Give it a go again. Try some new strategies.

Finding the right tools and strategies to get them talking can be an extremely engaging and rewarding process. It only requires your time and not a single dime. The return on investment is enormous.

Give the above-mentioned ideas a go and see if they break the ice with your customers. But be warned, these tactics work wonders for an online business, that doesn’t mean the same will translate to real-world situations.