June 7, 2016
Word-of-mouth marketing. Some may be wondering how this is a marketing tactic at all. Did you know that this is one of the most effective forms of spreading organizational awareness? Even more so than social media, which may come as a surprise (I know it did on my end). We live in a world where consumers are constantly looking for reassurance through reviews, testimonials and personal experiences. Did you know that you can improve your recruitment efforts with word-of-mouth marketing? Your current members have the ability to transform the opinions of nonmembers through casual conversation. I know your association probably has an intricate marketing strategy in place, but that doesn’t mean you should steer clear of traditional methods as well.
This marketing method isn’t new. People have been utilizing word-of-mouth marketing since humans could communicate. Word-of-mouth marketing is successful simply because people don’t think it’s marketing at all.
At the end of the day, who are you going to trust - a fellow consumer or a paid staff member of an association? Think about it: How many times have you checked Yelp before going to a restaurant? You wanted to receive confirmation. You trusted the reviews of fellow consumers. The same goes for associations. Nonmembers want to hear for themselves how great your association is. They trust the opinions of current members and believe what they have to say. Rather than being bombarded by marketing emails, nonmembers are able to get a first-hand perspective as to what their membership experience would be like if they joined.
Fun Fact: Often times, nonmembers want to be asked to join an association.
Many people are actively avoiding mainstream marketing ploys. Today, you can’t even checkout at the store without being prompted to enter your email address to receive promotional offers. At the end of the day: It’s annoying. Nonmembers don’t want to receive a flood of unsolicited marketing emails. They are either deleting the emails, or removing themselves from the mailing lists altogether. It’s time to go rogue and use word-of-mouth marketing to entice nonmembers to join the fun.
We’ve covered why word-of-mouth marketing is pretty nifty, but let’s explore how your association can make it effective. With a little elbow grease, your association will be the talk of the town.
Everyone likes a personal account - and that includes someone’s membership experience. If your association has a group of die-hard members: Ask them to write a testimonial. This will give nonmembers a first-hand experience that shines light on your association. Once you receive the testimonial, repurpose it in your social media efforts. If a nonmember is questioning whether to join and reads a positive experience, it could sway them to sign-up. There is nothing more powerful than the written word - and having positive testimonials will only leverage your organization to success.
Many social media platforms (Facebook in particular) allow consumers to leave reviews and ratings. If your association utilizes these platforms (it should) you should encourage members to leave reviews on your page. A great way to promote these functions is to address them at meetings, events, seminars, emails, etc. However your association reaches out to loyal members - do that. This will allow nonmembers to read reviews and see ratings while they skim your page(s). This will let nonmembers organically see positive reviews about your association, which could persuade them to join.
This can be a win-win for a lot of people. By implementing a referral program, you will be able to help with recruitment efforts while increasing member engagement. You will have to entice members to refer new members by giving them an incentive.You need to give them a reason to spread your message. What should you offer you ask? Whether it’s discounts, free products or cash - you will need to give them something they can’t get anywhere else. It’s important to make it incredibly simple for members to refer others - you don’t want to deter them because the process is overly complicated.
It’s important to recruit a power crew to be your first line of defense. You will need ground troops to get out there and speak positively about your association to nonmembers. Associations should pick its top influencers and 5 star members to spread awareness. A great way to show your appreciation is to throw these members exclusive events in their honor.
Disclaimer: The only way word-of-mouth marketing is effective is if an association puts its best foot forward. If your association isn’t performing the way it should, you shouldn’t expect much success with this marketing method. To get the best members - you have to be the best association. You can’t expect members to vouch for you when they aren’t receiving the best member experience possible.
As social media has taken over, your association probably already has a hefty marketing plan in motion. However, you may see the benefits of an old school marketing method. Word-of-mouth marketing allows consumers to make the decision to join of their own accord. Additionally, your current members will remain engaged as they connect with others. Reputation is everything, and having a good one is vital for your success.
Want to learn more about different marketing tactics? Take a look at our blog: E-Marketing Isn't Dead.