Q & A with WOM Expert Andy Sernovitz - PFL Printing Blog
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  • slider 11 Jun 2012        By: twatkins

Thanks again to everyone who attended PFL’s “Word of Mouth Marketing 101″ Webinar! WOM expert Andy Sernovitz spoke extensively on how to get more people talking about your business, energize your fans, and generate positive word of mouth about your brand. If you didn’t get a chance to see the webinar, check out the recording now.

Also make sure to check out Andy’s answers to the great questions that were submitted by you during the webinar below. Here’s even more insight into how to grow your business with WOM!


­Q:     My clients LOVE me but will NOT refer me because they don’t want to share me. How can I get around that??

A: Your clients aren’t your only word of mouth talkers. If they’re not willing to make referrals, turn to all the other people in the community. Think about the people your clients work with, advisors to potential clients — all the other potential talkers that surround your talkers.

Remember that word of mouth isn’t just client-to-client — look for the other interested people who can tell your potential clients about you.

Q:     How can the Marketing Dept turn our employees into evangelists?

A: Lots of your employees are probably eager to talk about your company — but they’re not sure how and they might not know if it’s allowed.

Step 1: Let employees know that you encourage them to become word of mouth advocates for your company.

Step 2: Give them lots of tools to spread the word. Samples, T-shirts, Facebook pages, discount codes — anything that can help them share with their friends.

Q:     How would these ideas apply to a freelance designer?

A: These word of mouth principles apply to anybody in any profession.

Remember the big idea: Give your clients something unique to talk about and make it easy for them to talk about you.

For designers, one of our favorites examples is how our co-worker, Jen Bachelder, creates an amazingly designed calendar and gives them out. It’s a great gift, and it means that everyone is thinking about her (and her design skills) all year long.

Q:     I am on a low budget and I am just starting out a freelance graphic design business. What is something reasonably priced that I could do for my customers?

A: If you don’t have money, keep it online.

Try creating shareable designs, art, or e-cards. Start a simple Facebook page and share them there. The only cost is your labor, and as it gets more successful, it still won’t cost you any more.

Q:     How do you track the word of mouth results/

A: Every word of mouth moment somehow connects to something you’re already tracking.

When customers click links, make purchase, or fill out firms, pay attention to where they came from and ask them how they heard about you. You can also use simple tracking links or unique coupon codes to track which word of mouth drives which results.

Q:     At a medical practice, how can we get WOM other than bedside manner and front desk service?

A: Instead of thinking about the patient, think about all the people who are involved in the patient’s care. Give these people reasons to talk about you with topics like amazing support for family members, a fantastic waiting room experience, or helpful tools to keep track of loved ones under your care.

Lots of doctors, for example, are starting to do videos on YouTube for commonly asked questions. This gives a lot of people something to share and something to talk about.

Q:     How can WOM be applied B2B ?

A: BtoB word of mouth works exactly like BtoC. You have to find people to talk about you and give them something to talk about.

And besides, you’re probably already doing lots of great word of mouth things like white papers, customer reference programs, and buzzworthy appearances at trade shows.

Q: Is there a time limit on asking clients to talk about you. I work with my clients for 9 months, then my work is done. I’d like to go to some of the clients I had a year ago and ask them to write a review. Does this work?

A: It’s usually best to ask for a recommendation right after the job is completed — but if a client is truly happy with you, it’s fine to go back later to ask for a recommendation. Not only do you get great testimonials, but it can often lead to conversations about new projects.

Q: Should you hire a reputable PR company to do the word of mouth for you?

A: PR firms can help manage word of mouth, but it’s always better to do it yourself.

Word of mouth is most effective and most believable when it comes from a true relationship you have with your customers. You can’t outsource relationships.

Besides, for the cost of hiring a PR firm, you could hire a full-time word of mouth manager.

Q: What is the best method to try and track your WOM Marketing to see if it is working, time to test out something else, or change to new topic?

A: You know if your word of mouth topic is working pretty quickly. Either it shows up in social networks (or drives people to your website), or it doesn’t.

The topics that are going to go viral will usually do it right away, without a lot of help.

Q: What is the best way to excite people, (and get them talking), about a product that isn’t exciting?

A: If your product isn’t buzzworthy, you need to change or add something. Maybe it isn’t the core features that change — maybe it’s the brand name, the way you promote it, or the way you deliver the service.

Think about Geek Squad. They took the boring topic of computer repair and turned it into an exciting business their funky cars, brand name, and personality.

Q: How to make this work for industrial products? where no “feelings” nor “friends” are involved, but performance of products?

A: Every product has fans. You don’t have to be exciting or goofy to start conversations. Think about the people who depend on your product, who love how you treat them, and trust you to deliver for them. These are feelings that can generate word of mouth.

Q: I own a commercial photography business that caters mostly to corporate clients who generally like to keep their resources to themselves.  How do I get them to start talking about my business to other potential clients?

A: Similar to question number one above, it’s not your clients who are the word of mouth talkers, it’s the people who work with your future clients that are the talkers you want to focus on.

In this case, maybe it’s the ad agencies or other vendors who can recommend you to someone new.