by Abe Sauer

It’s widely acknowledged that word of mouth works better than almost any other marketing medium. There’s even a Word of Mouth Marketing Association. And there is an insurmountable pile of advice out there about how best to make word-of-mouth marketing work for you, including books and websites full of tips.

To save you work. We looked at as many of them as we could before wanting to draw a warm bath and slit our wrists and now bring you a summary of the most agreed upon three.

1. Don’t worry about the big picture right away. Instead of spreading your efforts across a large group, put a greater deal of attention into fewer individuals. These champions will serve you better in the long run.

BUT HOW?: In real terms this might mean reaching out to every customer who sends your company or brand praise and returning the favor with what might seem like an overdose of thanks in the form or free products, etc. But make sure it’s more than they could have ever expected. This will essentially put their love for your product on steroids and make your “thanks” to them a point of news that they’ll tell their friends (which won’t happen if you react as expected).

2. Make yourself findable. Yes, this seems like an obvious one but it is consistently the one companies take for granted while at the same time one of the factors that has the largest immediately effect on bottom line. If you can’t be found you can’t be talked about.

BUT HOW: Have a website? Make your “contact us” link prominent and easy to use. Post an email, an address and a phone number. Are you the first Google result when your company name is searched? If not, change that through SEO or Google Adsense to make sure you’re on the top of that first page. Get in your local Chamberof Commerce directory. Set up a profile at Oddpodz. Set one up at LinkedIn. The more your name is out there the easier it is to find. Heck, posting in Craigslist Services is free (though don’t get your hopes up with that one.)

Also, don’t forget the phone book. People still use those and they are the exact kind of people who make a point of telling their friends about you.

3. Use the buddy system. Take a good long look at what you’re selling. Now think of three to five other product categories that your product blends into. These are the areas where you should seek partnerships and cross-promotions to extend your scope, potential exposure, and then hopefully some word-of-mouth mentions.

BUT HOW?: For example, you make high end soaps. Well, what industry or business has a need for soap, but not as its main offering. How about small bed and breakfasts? Or a boutique yoga studio. The key is to get your product into the hands of those who could, maybe, be your market. In this example, you’d want to avoid large gyms or hotel/motels as, while hosting a large audience, are going to be a waste of your resources because of how they think about “soap” in regards to their consumption of the service.

This is essentially the old barter system; you’re trading product for advertising and everyone wins.

Anyone have other ideas. Let’s hear it in the comments.