A decade ago, word of mouth advertising was considered the most promising and inexpensive approach for businesses to drive sales. While the dynamics of businesses have changed in the digital era, word of mouth marketing is still the most effective way for acquiring new customers and boosting sales. According to a survey conducted by Verizon in collaboration with Small Business Trends, 85 percent of small businesses credited word of mouth as the most competent way of customer acquisition. Customers feel more inclined towards trusting a brand that they hear about from their loved ones, friends and acquaintances. So in order to be a brand that customers would love spreading a positive word about, you need to make your customers feel valued, here are five proactive ways to do that!

Start off with an Amazing Customer Experience
Your customers would definitely do word of mouth advertising for your business, if they feel delighted with the overall experience. So the first step towards turning the customers into your “Brand Evangelists” is offering them an exciting and memorable customer experience. Customers like to be remembered, so make sure that your CSRs remember their names and preferences. In addition to making your products/services worthwhile, pay attention to the little things that really matter to the customer experience. For instance, if you are running a bakery, the things that can make you stand out from your competitors and would earn you brand advocates can be your welcoming staff, a little coffee area with the morning newspaper and free chocolate cookies daily to the first ten customers who walk in. Try to differentiate your business and it can win you word of mouth referrals.
Be a Brand that Staunchly Supports Customer Centric Culture
Your customers are likely to recommend your business online and offline if they believe that customer service is the core value of your company. Take customer complaints, concerns and feedback seriously and make sure that an angry customer leaves satisfied. Do not gather feedback just for the sake of following a ritual, instead use customers’ suggestions to improve your service accordingly. Train your staff to prioritize customers before your business’ rules and policies. Accommodate and facilitate the customers in the best possible manner. Brands like Zappos and Nordstrom have earned themselves a huge number of brand advocates by adopting a customer centric culture. Make your brand “All about Customers” and see how your happy customers bring in new ones by marketing your business both online and offline.

Do Something Different and Unique to Grab Customers’ Attention
Want customers to chat, share and tweet about your products/service? Do something unexpected and surprising and they will make you the talk of town within minutes and hours. However, some publicity stunts when done wrong get really negative coverage and cause irreparable damage to a business’ repute, so you ought to be careful while surprising your customers. For instance, if you want your customers to spread positive word about your beauty product, you can get them talking about it by creating a thoughtful and engaging advertising campaign. You can ask the customers to share the photos of their beauty icons’ and ask them reasons why they like them, because of their sense of style or natural beauty. You can then hold a contest for these entries and award the winners with diamond pendants and their favorite celebrity makeover from a renowned stylist.

Bring Your Customers into the Limelight

The smartest way to earn your customers’ trust is to promote and appreciate them. Make your customers feel privileged by asking for product/service reviews, publish them on your website and newsletter with the customers’ names. Feature the customers’ written and video testimonials on your social media pages and see how it works wonders in getting you new ones. Events is yet another way to bring your customers into the limelight, you can invite your repeat customers to the product launches or your brand’s anniversary celebrations. You can also make the customers “Enthusiast Speakers” for your brand, you can use podcasts and YouTube for promoting your customers and consequently your brand. Your prospective customers are likely to trust the words from your existing customers as they can relate to their demographics.

Create Brand Value by Emotionally Appealing to Customers
Customers prefer a brand and recommend it to others that emotionally engages and appeals to them. Without arousing your customers’ emotions, you can’t really create brand affinity. While creating brand value for your business, create segments of your audience, study their behavior and then devise a strategy to emotionally appeal to them. For instance, if you are a business that designs mountain bikes, the emotions that you can use to create brand affinity are adventure, liveliness, freedom and challenge. By infusing these attributes to your brand you are likely to cater to the emotional needs of your target audience who like being challenged, are fond of adventure and love an energetic and free life. Businesses that successfully create emotional brand value win lifelong customers who do word of mouth advertising for them quite ardently.

Maham Riaz