Harnessing the power of word of mouth marketing is critical for event professionals hoping to build a strong, reputable brand for their events. So what exactly is Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM for short), and how can you use it to your advantage?
What is word of mouth marketing for event professionals?
“An unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product or service”
Word of Mouth Marketing is exactly what you would expect it to be. People spreading the word about your event to their friends, colleagues or online networks in a positive way. When one of your attendees has an amazing time at your event and then tweets about it, or tells their friend they absolutely must attend next time – that’s WOMM taking effect.
The value in this kind of unprompted recommendation is undeniable – think about how often you turn to your network for advice about products or services. Word of Mouth can be conversational or it can be amplified via social media, and it can do wonders for your brand. Yet it’s also impossible to control – a bad experience will likely be recounted ten times as often as a good one. But by working with factors that are within your reach, you can set the conditions for a cascade of positive word of mouth mentions.
Word of Mouth Marketing is about the small gestures
Great word of mouth comes from great individual experiences. Every micro-interaction you have with your attendees should be carefully crafted to leave them feeling great.
- Respond to all social media questions and comments in a timely manner.
- Be warm, friendly and courteous at all times.
- Make sure your front-line staff have their focus firmly on giving great customer service, every single time. The difference between a genuine, personable interaction and a bored-sounding phone call is immeasurable.
- Make an effort to remember the small details, or scan someone’s social media accounts to get a sense of who they are and what’s important to them before you chat. Apps like Rapportive will give you a quick glance into a person’s digital persona, right from your email inbox.
- Be a human! People feel more positive about events when they can connect with the individuals that make it happen. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality… but not so much that it seems intrusive.
Word of Mouth Marketing is about ‘fessing up
We’re all human, and that means we all make mistakes (if you’re not a human and you’re reading this post, please let us know!) Damage control when someone has a bad experience is critical, especially if they’ve turned to social media to express their frustrations. If someone complains about your event, here’s how to turn negative Word of Mouth into Word of Mouth Marketing gold.
- Respond as quickly as possible in the same place the complaint was lodged (so if someone is tweeting at/about you, tweet them back, if they leave a comment on your Facebook page respond to the comment and so forth)
- Be polite, respectful and apologetic. A genuine apology if you’re at fault can go a long way.
- Publicly correct any misinformation and offer them the chance to continue the conversation offline. Give them an email address and/or a phone number and let them know you’re available to help address the situation.
- Whatever you do, don’t get into a public mud-slinging match! Take a step back from the situation, empathise with the poster and get the conversation offline as fast as possible.
- Get someone else to check over your wording before posting to make sure the tone is as welcoming as possible.
Word of Mouth Marketing is about more than words
Entreneur.com posits that great Word of Mouth can be generated by looking beyond your written and verbal communications and towards creating memorable experiences for your attendees. Look to tactics that are architectural, kinetic or generous.
Architectural. Use your physical event space to surprise and delight your attendees. Pick an incredible location, bring in sculptures, digital installations – anything out of the ordinary that will create a lasting impression, tailored to the tastes of your attendees.
Kinetic. Displays of movement and interactivity are powerful. For example, a live cooking demo that involves your audience would be a great way to generate positive word of mouth at a food-focused event.
Generous. Become the event that’s known for its amazing swag or incredible, delicious food or amazing speakers at bargain prices. People remember generosity, so draw from your marketing budget to give directly to your attendees.
Word of Mouth Marketing is a two-way street
Remember that WOMM is not all about you and it pays to play it forward:
- People love to be complemented in a way that is generous and sincere.
- Use your social media channels to highlight excellency from all of your stakeholders: Attendees, speakers, sponsors and your team.
- Events can be stressful, but don’t let that show. Keeping your cool when dealing with customers and managing expectations with a smile will leave them with a nice warming feeling inside.
- Be generous with your connections. If someone you know would benefit from knowing someone else you know, build that bridge! There is immense value in being a connector of people – people will remember the favour and pay it back to you in droves.
If you’re interested in learning more about Word of Mouth Marketing check out The Word of Mouth Marketing Association. They are the official trade association in the word of mouth and social media marketing industries and have some top resources on their website.
About Noodle Live
Noodle Live brings a seamless social experience to events, conferences and exhibitions using a combination of mobile applications and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) swipe cards to streamline information sharing.
This post was written by Clemi Hardie, founder and MD of Noodle Live.