Taking advantage of Bahrain’s geographic size is key to ensuring your business reach is maximized with as little cost possible. When starting up a business, staying within budget is key and for advertising – the cost can run pretty high these days.
One of the most effective, popular and, believe it or not, underutilized methods of advertising is WOMM – word of mouth marketing.
Word of mouth marketing is basically free advertising. It is when your customers share their experience with their friends and family, and the sharing snowballs until it turns into a physical action – making a purchase. Enter social media – the value of word of mouth is now quadrupled.
A recent study by the Word of Mouth Association (yes that’s correct) showed that out of the top four driving forces of purchase decisions, word of mouth is at the top of the list. Other forces include: information from a website, email sent be a friend, or reading about it online. The power of word of mouth is thus – undeniable. And harnessing its power effectively is critical in establishing and maintaining a business’s reputation as well as managing customer expectations. Add to that Bahrain’s small size and the influential power of recommendation that consumers in Bahrain have on one another. How many of you have tried a new restaurant because your colleague was there and loved it? Or visited a spa because your best friend posted a picture of it on Instagram? Or a tweet appeared on your timeline commending the superior service received at a gym? Without the deliberate intention of these businesses, but they just gained a few ambassadors that promoted them – for free. It also goes without saying that the more ‘influential’ these ambassadors are, the more powerful their marketing is (the highest number of followers in the online world for instance).
So how does a business utilize WOMM? Ultimately, the business should make it its objective to encourage and influence positive messages. A business should make sure it utilizes the available tools it has such as consistent and superior customer service and setting up social outreach programs such as social networks, websites, active emails, and even suggestion forms.
With these tools in place, you make it a natural step for customers to spread the word since they realize that you are actually listening. Encouraging customers to discuss your brand will empower them and if they see followers influenced by their recommendations – they will continue to spread the feedback. It is the responsibility of the business to make sure the feedback is positive – and this happens with solid customer experience management and consistently superior customer service. One of the critical business objectives should be superior customer experience. This objective should be embedded into the minds of all employees and those who represent the business. This guarantees positive customer feedback. A good experience is always shared – but so is a bad one.
Another important asset that is available for business in Bahrain is brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors can be customers who have a social influence. They can be society members, bloggers, or even social media users with many followers. Invite them to try out your service and utilize their network and influence. Offering referral programs to customers can act as a catalyst for positive feedback – but it is the responsibility of the business to ensure the services delivered are exceptional.
How do business encourage positive feedback?
Easy. Focus on the classic textbook practice – the marketing mix. Carefully plan- ning each element and setting the standards on how to deliver the service or product is key. Make sure that customer expectations are met and exceeded – that is the utmost minimum. Thoughtful touches, surprises, and an unforgettable ambiance make businesses stand-out, remembered and mentioned. And most importantly, unhappy customers must be handled immediately. The longer time it takes to resolve an issue, the more time the unhappy customer has to badmouth the business. Offer freebies, refunds – whatever it takes to ensure the customer’s frown is turned upside down. Neglect is not an option.
Okay, now what?
It’s quite the juggle to own a business. But as much as it is challenging it is rewarding. As much as it causes a headache it causes your heart to pump with happiness. A business should be treated with love. The love your treat your business shines through and can be felt by customers. A neglected business tends to show signs of negligence and seems like it’s managed by staff instead of a visionary.
Set standards and stick to them. Simple rule, Build it and they will come, they will talk about it.