Many startups face the same problem: They have an incredible product but noone knows about it. Traditional marketing can be very expensive and startups typically do not swim in money. So new ventures have to find alternative ways to promote their product. One of those approaches is word of mouth (WOM). The WOM approach is to let convinced users of your product do the marketing for you by convincing their peers to become customers as well. However to sucessfully implement a WOM strategy a startup needs initial sales, a typical chicken-and-egg problem. These five steps help you to boost your sales using word of mouth and circumventing these problems:
1. Identify anchor customers
Probably you have already identified the market you want to enter with your product (if you have not, that should be the first step ;D). Markets should be divided into homogenous market segments which can be accessed easily using the same marketing means (e.g. online marketing on the same platform, geographical location etc.). Within those market segments opinion leaders can be identified. Opinion leaders are people / organisations which have high visibility within their community and influence their "followers" by introducing new technology or new ideas. Win them as anchor customers and they will leverage your sales in their respective community!
2. Make them buy your product
Anchor customers are a sought after species. To get them to buy the product remember the AIDA concept: Every sales process is divided into four steps: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. To successfully sell a customer must go through all those four steps. Find out how your anchor customers think and how you get them from step to step.
3. Create incentives for your customers to spread the word
Once your anchor customer actually have bought your product incentivice them to spread the word. Create tools which easily (remember, people are lazy so convenience is key) let them share their experience. You can do this using online media e.g. incorporating a share button or integrating acheivments which can be posted on social networks. For consumer goods you could for example create a "sharing" package with additional free goodies to share.
4. Engage with your customers
Word of mouth is not a single transaction. To keep your anchor customers spreading the word you must engage with them. Ask them what they like about your product, give them insider information or early access to a new version of your product to increase customer loyality.
5. Keep track of your customer relationships
Always know what your anchor customers is up to and how and when you have communicated with them. This is especially important in growing and distributed teams. To support this process you can use a Customer Relation Management platform where all this data is stored. We at cofoundme use SalesForce, however there's a pretty cool free platform out there: HubSpot CRM
Stick to these five steps and your WOM campaign will be a success!