A Capital One survey just before the end of 2020 gave a good snapshot of what small business owners and operators see ahead. The survey revealed:
While all of the points are important and give a very positive outlook, the final data point is incredibly important to everyone in our industry. Nothing generates word of mouth advertising better than promotional products media. Nothing can touch the economic advantage of our media and deliver messages directly to the best potential customers. When compared to the costs of every other media, promotional products media is always the best value, has the strongest impact and continues to make ad impressions without additional costs.
Considering the other four points, there is no reason to believe that your customers are not doing any advertising. They may not have the budget for print, radio or other mass media, but the targeted high value of promotional will provide the word of mouth marketing they want and need.
Something to keep in mind when making suggestions for word of mouth marketing is that visibility is important. Many promotional programs are somewhat personal in that they sit on a desk or on the kitchen counter. For word of mouth programs the goal is to be visible to act as a starting point for conversations. Here are a few examples. A financial advisory firm that specializes in advising doctors on their financial plans, gave their clients a high perceived value writing instrument that incorporated a LED flashlight, laser pointer and a stylus. Every time a colleague saw the pen in use they wanted to know how to get one. The buzz created was almost immediate and the firm was able to have many conversations with new prospects.
A commercial office cleaning service left very stylish neck gators on the desks of the offices they cleaned and disinfected. When the workers returned in the morning they were all quite pleased with the gift. The cleaning service had a discrete “complements of...” message on the gators. As workers from other businesses in the building saw the gators and learned that they were left by the cleaning service, the word of mouth advertising paid off with several other new clients in the building.
A car dealership used a “test drive” kit to drive more business. Their kit was a 6-pack cooler with logoed sunglasses, water bottle and rally towel in it. Everyone that took a test drive of a new or used vehicle got a kit. Every time someone stopped in and asked for a kit they knew the word of mouth advertising was working.
A veterinarian clinic gave (and sold) their customers dog leashes that promently showed the doctor’s name, clinic and phone number. Customers generally showed loyalty to and affinity towards their dog’s doctor and became the word of mouth spokesperson the practice wanted.
In each example a specialty was selected that would guarantee that others would see it and be interested enough to ask about the item. Depending on the nature of the business appropriate specialties from yoga mats to tote bags to ball caps will work to stimulate conversations that provide the opportunity to do business.