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  • Leslie Horna

How Important is Word-of-Mouth Marketing During COVID-19

People turn to friends, family and social media Influencers for guidance and encouragement in uncertain times

Personal referrals are a terrific way to drive your business. It is a good thing when customers are so happy with their experience (leadership, service, cost, performance) that they recommend your company to other potential customers. In moments of uncertainly like we're experiencing this year, referrals from friends, family, and even social media influencers can validate choices and serve as an endorsement.

Companies can benefit from referrals while also capturing the attention of new, developing audiences. If businesses wait to woo audiences until they're needed, they're already behind. Play the long game by building brand awareness among developing demographics while nurturing relationships with current decision makers and referring friends.

Marketing is not only a lead generation tactic. Anytime B2B or B2C customers have a choice, there’s a need for marketing. Businesses need to maintain relevancy in online search, social media, and a dynamic website to communicate with existing stakeholders as well as prospective customers. Marketing delivers value and encourages innovation – customers seek out a product or service to solve a problem or offer conveniences, including the introduction of new ideas that will efficiently and effectively deliver strong results.

A few ways you're marketing, but didn’t know it:

· Networking: When you’re engaged in online networking sites like LinkedIn, LunchClub, Alignable or countless others, you’re marketing. Social and philanthropy events offer in-person interactions. Networking is a significant part growing business awareness and revenue. The more people you know, the broader reach you have to grow referrals.

· Volunteerism & Board Service: Similar to networking, this involves strategically associating with individuals that can benefit your personal or professional improvement. A contact earned through service on a nonprofit’s board of directors or volunteerism with an organization expands your sphere of influence as well as generates awareness for the company among a new professional circle.

Board service also communicates to current and prospective clients what you’re passionate about, your company values, and that your company is engaged in the community with which it serves. Both of these are bold drivers of business development.

· Awards & Honors: Your company applies to and wins community and industry organization awards annually. Why do you do this? Oh, yeah…to draw attention to the awesome work you did for your customer! While partially done for the customer, this tactic also increases your company’s credibility and likelihood of securing more business referrals.

· Partnerships (community, industry): Collaboration with complimentary organizations can improve product or service delivery and provide customers an even better experience. Partnership among like-minded organizations can also be beneficial in amplifying your message. Partnership perks include expanding your reach, the consolidation or sharing of resources and costs, and it can inspire innovative ideas.

· Reviews: Are you asking for feedback, maybe in the form of a review or testimonial? Many businesses invite reviews through third-party organizations like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, or Google. Customer referrals are often the thing that seals the deal when a prospect is close to making a decision. Prospects like hearing from someone else what worked, what has not, and other details that may validate the customer's choice. Soliciting this type of input and using it to constructively improve and/or promote your business is a form of marketing.

· Speaking: If your company participates in virtual conferences, digital panel discussions, online trade shows, or other community presentations, you are marketing. When speaking to audiences of peers, competitors, and other target customers about what the company does, or in sharing a perspective, this marketing tactic strengthens reach and engagement with your brand.

Additional marketing efforts may include Sponsorship/Participation in Events, Social Media, Content Marketing, and hosting an Email Newsletter. Companies build their brand by expressing who they are, what they do, who they do it for, and why they do it. The more relevant and authentic the communications are, the better target audiences will understand and appreciate your business.

Businesses don’t have to be engaged in paid advertising or promotional messaging to be marketing. From networking, to volunteerism and board service, awards, partnerships, reviews and speaking opportunities, there are many tactics to choose from. Explore which marketing tactics are the right fit for your brand and for your goals.

Invest in brand research, strategy, and planning to develop your company’s roadmap to success. C. Change Consulting helps purpose-driven brands in the corporate, small business, nonprofit, foundation, and government sectors with brand, marketing, and communications needs. Schedule your complimentary brand consultation today!

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