Picture of Fairbanks Masters Swimming Practice

Word of Mouth Still Beats All Other Marketing

I thought I heard Coach Kristina wrong. Did she really say 21 masters swimmers had showed up to Saturday swim practice? Attendance had been down during vacation. We thought everyone was suffering from guilt. Then it happened again on Thanksgiving morning. 26 masters swimmers showed up for a holiday swim. I asked her exactly who had showed up. She named key swimmers and then said the magic words:

…and they brought their friends or family.

Marketing is not cut and dry. Anyone who tells you so, is selling something. Okay, I’m selling marketing services and media development, but I will be the first to tell you that true success boils down to a solid product or service. If it’s good, people talk. If it’s really good people gift your product/service in hopes you’ll use it someday. If it is really, really good they will drag your butt down there and make you partake. And you will. And you will love it.

There is a term for people who bring others to your storefront: Key Influencers. The list of regular swimmers who brought their BFFs are Fairbanks Masters Swimming‘s Key Influencers. And though we always suspected that was the case. This was the first concrete, repeated case that vetted this list. These are the people us marketing professionals are always bugging you to identify.

So Now What?

 Coach Kristina did a lot of work to earn 4th in the nation for Growth of Tier III Masters Swim Teams for 2018
  1. Make sure this group is always “in the know”— have an event? Tell them first. Got a special recognition? Let them know how they contributed to that success. They will tell their friends and bring more business your way.
  2. Give them special deals— this one is a slippery slope, especially in Coach Kristina’s situation where we are a team.  But for most businesses giving deals to your Key Influencers won’t create a make or break chasm between customers.  More likely it will make your infrequent customers wonder how they can get in on great deals too. For instance, Goldstream Sports sent a direct email to a select list who had purchases Saucony and Salomon shoes in the past year. These customers got first pick for a sale that would later be released to the general public.
  3. Give them shout outs on social media--ask them for a pic and testimonies about your service or product. Feature pics of them attending your events. Show them in action sporting your gear. This solidifies their connection to you with all the great things they’ve been telling their friends and family.

Always keep in mind that the more in-line the quality of your product/service falls within your customers’ expectations the better the word-of-mouth.  That said, you still have to keep up with other channels of promotion like advertising, social media, and trade shows.  Coach Kristina did a lot of work to earn 4th in the nation for Growth of Tier III Masters Swim Teams for 2018 including building a solid program that swimmers wanted to bring other swimmers to for training.

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