We are devoting this week’s columns to the topic of Word of Mouth marketing. Yesterday, we discussed how to best involve your existing clients in your word of mouth marketing efforts. There is a group of champions for your business much closer than your clients, however: your employees, suppliers, family and friends. Recruiting these “internal customers” to assist you in amplifying your word of mouth strategies is an important tactic. Having your friends, family and work colleagues communicate your company message to their friends, family and associates leverages everyone’s sphere of influence and virally spreads in a very organic, grassroots manner.
Like the process of amplifying word of mouth among your existing customers, your internal customers will require coaching to be effective evangelists for your travel planning practice. Think of a family member in their current state of knowledge about your travel consulting. If they were describing “what you do” to a third party, what would they say? How clearly would they articulate your strongest points?
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Sit down with each group – co-workers, friends and family – and give them a short course in what you do. Explain to them the service aspect. Make sure they understand the resources you have at your disposal, the supplier relationships you call on and the certifications you have earned. Relate a few stories about past bookings and make sure they understand your niche. Provide them with a few of your business cards to carry around any other marketing collateral that they can study. Specifically ask for them to name some people who they know who might be good candidates for travel and ask them to communicate directly with that person.
When one of your internal customers speaks highly of your services to their friends and family, it has a significant impact. With consumers continually inundated with advertising from all directions, advice from their closest associates holds a great deal of influence in their choice of all products, including their choice of a travel agents. A recommendation from someone they know goes a long way toward imparting a favorable impression of your practice. Word of mouth marketing has a strong ripple effect as it moves from person to person, spreading geometrically.
Remember the admonitions of our first word of mouth discussion, however. Word of mouth is only effective if it has its origin in an authentically superior product – you. Be sure that you are offering up to your clients, both internal and external – an “insanely great” experience. That is where the energy resides that will propel them forward in their mission to spread your message to others.
Tomorrow – Public Relations and Referral Networks