Let’s Give (Your Audiences) Something To Talk About

Have you ever eaten a cricket?

I had tasted cricket lollipops from science museum gift shops, but never thought I’d be snacking on them… until one of my brother’s favorite podcasts featured a proponent of cricket farming to source sustainable protein. There we were at our next game night, dipping cricket chips in salsa – and quite enjoying them!

Now that is a change in buying (and snacking) behavior.

The Power of Word of Mouth

Most of our clients get most of their clients via referral or word of mouth.

As a consumer, many of the products and services I use are recommended to me – by friends, family, my favorite podcast hosts. Some I find on Nextdoor, Google search, news sources or ads, and choose after checking out online reviews. In a world so full of choices, we rely on recommendations from people and sources we trust.

As communicators, we must leverage this power; but personal networks and conversations seem so limited. How can we use word of mouth at scale to help our clients grow?

Marketing as a Giant Game of Telephone

No matter what type of service our clients provide, our job is to tell stories that are worth passing along. Sometimes, this also means helping our clients create stories as part of their everyday operations.

What does this look like? For some clients, we initiate a meaningful community partnership, innovative technology or management practice. Just in the last few months, we have designed and launched new workforce development initiatives and environmental sustainability programs for our clients. We have written books, designed games, run contests and conducted surveys that give us powerful data nuggets to share.

Consider also how your company can create one-on-one encounters that turn into stories with pass-along power. Data shows great customer service is a major differentiator. If a company resolves a complaint or makes a return seamless, that customer is very likely to recommend the brand based on that experience alone.

Metrics: An Invisible Superpower

It can be hard to justify this kind of investment in leveraging word of mouth because these conversations are very hard to track.

My brother didn’t post the cricket farming podcast episode on my Facebook wall; he brought it up on a road trip, and we talked about it for at least 10 minutes. That’s incredible value for the cricket chips industry… and they had no idea the conversation ever happened.

Rather than recording such moments of major influence, we look for spikes in searches, website traffic, social media conversation and sales following the launch of a new storytelling campaign. It’s not perfect, but it’s powerful.

Spark Curiosity

Start with a question. Philadelphia-area readers probably recognize the phrase “I HATE STEVEN SINGER” from a billboard on a high-traffic section of I-95. Who is Steven Singer and why is he so terrible? Curious searchers discover the jeweler that paid for the billboard.

Think about it: What are the stories you tell about the products and services you buy – personally and professionally? What are your favorite stories to tell about your own product or service?

Take it one step further: What are the stories your customers tell? What stories do you want them to tell? What stories can you package for them to pass along? One thing I’m curious about: Will you try cricket chips?

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