Accelerate Word of Mouth to Build Greater Brand Awareness | Episode 26

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How do you get people talking about your company? Word of mouth is the oldest tactic in the marketing playbook. It’s also a smart and cost-effective way to digitally engage in ways that help your company proliferate and prosper in a crowded marketplace.

In this episode, Rhea Allen joins us to talk about “The 5 R’s” to boost awareness and word of mouth chatter. Rhea is a marketing coach, culture and branding facilitator and host of The Marketing Expedition Podcast.

Listen now for ideas on how to get your fans raving about their great experiences with your business.

[00:25] Show intro

[01:22] Get your fans talking, build out your digital footprint, become your best sales rep

[02:13] Introducing “The Five R’s”

[03:04] Ratings and Rankings

[04:56] Reviews

[07:54] Recommendations

[12:18] Referrals

[14:33] What’s the difference between a recommendation and a referral?

[16:25] Rewards

[22:40] Key takeaway: Awareness, authenticity and trust

[23:50] Outro



Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in HR tech industry.


Hi listeners, welcome back to the podcast. Today Deanna and I are going to be talking about accelerating your word of mouth to build greater brand awareness and trust in our market. When you think of the word brand, often you just maybe think of logos, colors, imagery, and being a creative director. Of course, those are the kinds of things that I like to think about too. But the reality is that brand encompasses so much more than that. It’s not just your visuals, it’s actually how a company shows up in the market. It is about how people view and think about your company, really. And a big lever to growth can be word of mouth. In fact, that’s a really powerful tool that you can use. So we’re gonna dig into look at how you can accelerate this to drive more market demand by creating raving fans. And today we are thrilled to welcome a guest, our friend and fellow marketer, Ray Allen. Ray is a marketing coach, culture and brand facilitator, adjunct college professor at Boise State University and c e o of Peppers Shock Media. Welcome to the show, Ray.


Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be here. Yeah, thanks for being here, Ray. So, brand awareness matters. People aren’t going to buy from you if they don’t know you exist. So, I think this is going to be a great conversation because I know, Ray, your agency and your team and your expertise are in the branding side as well. And in fact, the topic we’re talking about today is one that you brought to the table in a conversation that you and I were having. I’m really excited to dig into it because I think the way people buy today, whether you’re an HR technology company, you’ve got other B2B products, or even in the B2C space, the reality is people aren’t picking up the phone to talk to sales reps the way they did in the past. They’re doing their research, they’re asking others, and they’re putting more trust into unbiased opinions versus reaching out to companies directly and having those conversations.


And this fits into your demand generation engine because it’s really about building raving fans who talk about your brand and how do you build out that digital footprint to become your best sales rep. Let’s jump into how do you accelerate word of mouth by getting other people to talk about your brand? I’ll hand it over to you, Ray, because when we chatted, you had five things that you talked about that I think are worth jumping into. Absolutely. I so appreciate the opportunity to get to talk about this because it is absolutely, first of all, it doesn’t cost a whole lot to do what I’m about to tell you. And second of all, I think that these five Rs that I’m going to share with you are really instrumental in being able to continue to accelerate that word-of-mouth advertising that we’re talking about.


So here they are. And for those of you only listening to the audio, I’ll try to describe what I’m doing here because I have my hand up. We’re going to go with ratings and rankings, reviews, recommendations, referrals, and then rewards. And I’ve got my thumbs up for rewards, right? We want to reward those who give us ratings, rankings, reviews, recommendations, and referrals. So let’s just dig in and start talking about each of these five Rs and how you can, like you said, get people to talk about your brand by doing that. So ratings and rankings pretty self-explanatory there. If you get people to give you a five star, or they can rate your company on a scale of one to 10, or any kind of way that you can get those ratings rankings to allow people, and then they share that with others. So then they see that.


And that can help you get your customers to then see what other potential customers might see when they’ve got those ratings and rankings. You know, Deanna, I want you to share some ideas that you have that your customers can do to get ratings and rankings. Yeah, thanks. Right. So I don’t know if you would count this as ratings and rankings. I guess my mind goes to it, industry award programs. So, for example, we work with ADP, actually a few different groups within the company to help them actually go out and apply for awards so that they can win those best of ratings and rankings to be able to basically use it in their marketing material. And so, the type of awards that we’re working with them to apply for, you might be looking at the Stevie’s, the Titan Awards, Business Excellence Awards, Big Awards for Business, the list goes on and on.


What we do when we work with them is we go in and we research what are the options out there for awards that are applicable to their HR technology, depending on which group that we’re working with, whether there’s new innovations with that technology whether it’s customer service awards, things that demonstrate to the market that they are bringing something that is worth taking note of and what they do. It’s ADP, they’re a very well-known brand. They have a very, very high win rate with these awards because they’ve got great technology that they work with. They take that information, they promote it on their website, they get those links that bring in SEO value because there’s links out there coming back to their site.


They put it in their Spark newsletter. So they really take advantage of, okay, we’ve won these awards, now what do we do with it? And it really does help build credibility in the market for them, because it’s not them saying, we’re really good at this. It’s somebody else is saying, we selected this product by ADP because we think that it’s really good compared to the others that were in that category that we evaluated against. That’s great. So the second one is reviews. And with reviews, really, it’s talking about ways that people can share about your business. And those reviews are so important, like podcast reviews, right? For those of you listening right now, you could give us a review, right? It says a couple things, right? It says that the person’s going to take the time to give a review and have a thoughtful message that’s going to go out there in the world, and it’s going to be in their circle of influence that will see those reviews.


And then also helps with, again, SEO and helping to build that brand. Your customers are talking about you, you’re not having to toot your own horn because your customers are doing it for you. There are lots of different places to do the Google reviews or LinkedIn reviews or Facebook reviews, Yelp, Amazon reviews, better business bureau reviews, Google My Business podcast reviews. And so there’s just lots of different places to get and give reviews and it’s reciprocal, right? If you give them, then other people might give them back to you and it comes back in abundance. I think it’s definitely something that you want to have in your strategy to be able to help accelerate word of mouth and be able to continue to build that. Are there places that for your clients that you encourage them to get reviews?


We work with clients to help them build a review program because I think unsolicited reviews, if they’re positive, absolutely can sway an HR technology buyer to choose your solution. And there are a lot of review sites out there, and I know Ray, you mentioned some of them more specifically when you’re look in at the software space, there are common sites that we would recommend to our clients, and the list is quite extensive, but just to throw a few out there, there’s Trustpilot, Caper, G2 Trust, Radius, SaaS Genius. If you’re building up your software company, the don’t just magically come in until you’re pretty well established and have quite a market presence. So, the little-known secret is that there is an element of pay-to-play on some of these where you can be more prominent, it helps you garner more reviews, and you’ve got to go in and you’ve got to build your profile first for them to even have the option to go and review.


And I think it’s important also to note that you need to monitor review sites, because if there are negative comments or untrue reviews coming in, you can respond to them to try to manage your reputation as well. These are all very similar, but it’s a little bit different for each one of them. We know on say LinkedIn, you can get a recommendation from someone or you can ask people to give you a recommendation. And it’s really a nice way to write out what people are recommending. Or on Facebook, for example, if people are looking for recommendations and then you get tagged by somebody, one of your clients, or your customers, then that really shows the world that your customer really wants to recommend you and tell other people about it. Again, accelerating that word-of-mouth advertising that your people are being able to talk and tell and share all about you in your business.  The more recommendations you can get, the more you’ll be able to boost your brand and your experience with other people. In LinkedIn you can do online search suggestions, like look and see how many people would recommend company you can use Net Promoter score and of course Facebook recommendations we talked about. Capitalizing on those recommendations and asking people for it, I think that’s the one thing that people kind of sometimes miss is just asking for it. Right?


Yep, that was exactly what I was just going to say. Is it okay to just get out there and ask for recommendations because that might not be top of mind to go out and do that. Is it okay to throw out a blanket message to all your friends and family and say, hey, please recommend me.


Absolutely. Asking for the ratings, asking for the Google reviews, asking for the LinkedIn recommendations, it is something that doesn’t always come top of mind. So if you can systemize the process of asking for these things, you’re going to get a lot more return on your investment in the time that it takes to ask them. I even sometimes go so far as to give people a blanket sort of, here’s, here’s something you could use to copy and paste. Obviously, you can modify it yourself, but if you do the work legwork for them and provide them the exact link for them to go give you a recommendation, then it’s a lot easier. And it actually happens a lot more often if you give people just a little bit of what you can do. And now you can use AI to generate some blank blanket texts that they can just take and modify and make their own. So, it’s really kind of a nice little process that you can do that you can automate it now and continue to get out there.


That’s a really good idea and a really good point. I just had a conversation with somebody last week about that some they had been asked to give a LinkedIn review or recommendation and they were just stuck and they really wanted to do it. It was, you know, a, a company that they loved working with and everything, but they just didn’t know what to say because they’re not a writer. I think that’s a really, really good point and a really good idea to give people the tools to go ahead and give that recommendation.


I think you bring up a good point, Ray, in that you should ask because I think everybody wants recommendations. Recommendations are the highest form of flattery, right? If your customer is willing to give a recommendation to a colleague or a family member or friend who comes to them and says, hey, what HR technology are you using for your initiatives? But it doesn’t always happen organically or they don’t think about it. What’s the worst that can happen? If you ask somebody, they could say no. Okay, well now you know, but it puts the seed in their head that, Hey, the next time someone asks about this, I really like working with this company. I should recommend them to someone else because I do believe that they can provide value for them.


Yeah, that’s a good point. Even if they don’t actually go out and write it and post it, it’s in their head.


Next one is a big one. It’s referrals again, asking for them too. Talking about asking for referrals, but really with referrals, it is something that it needs to continuously be rewarded. And that’s the fifth one is rewarded and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But it’s just nice when you get those types of referrals, it really does accelerate word of mouth. We know that in some cases it takes 11 to 13 times to see somebody’s brand or hear about it before you actually acknowledge that you’ve actually heard it or seen it even though you’ve been exposed to it. And when you get referrals, the speed of trust and the, the amount of times that it takes to get a brand in front of somebody is lot less than 11 to 13 times. Because now I am transferring my trust in the referral that I give and also receive.


When I receive a referral, I’m more likely to utilize that company or that brand because of the referral that’s coming from a trusted friend or trusted influencer. A trusted person that’s going to tell me, yes, I absolutely would refer these people cause X, Y, Z, they’re wonderful. You know, and on the flip side though, if somebody tells me, oh, you don’t want to do business with them, they’re terrible. They’re awful. Right? It can work both ways. So, you always have to be doing the right thing in business to make sure that you get those referrals and people talking about you. It’s just wonderful when it happens. The more referrals you get from industry partners, from other people that are in your circle of influence, maybe some like-minded types of not necessarily competition, but other people who have a similar audience as you that you can now cross promote to each other’s audience because they’re both very similar. Then you can help build your referral system, referral network. And those are some really great ways to help continue and fuel those referrals and get those people on board to con consistently give you that. And then to fuel the referral program as well and making sure that you continue to ask.


I’m curious, what would you say is the main difference between a recommendation and a referral?


I think that the difference here is that referrals are where it’s personal referrals, right? Recommendations can be out for the whole wide world to see those referrals are maybe more one-on-one where you are introducing somebody via email or what I love to do. And when I’m making referrals, I actually like to get the two people that I want to refer to each other in the same room with me. Then I can introduce them to each other and have little nuggets about each one of them and make it a memorable experience when that happens. Because then I’m connecting them and that speed of trust again happens instantaneously.


I think it’s more about being able to have that personal relationship that you can then give to somebody else to then now be a part of that relationship together. So, it really is more of that one-on-one relationship building tool that you can use to create those referrals and fuel those referrals and create the partnerships that you have in referrals and networking groups, right? They have all these groups where people come and they, have breakfast together and they go around the room, say who they are and then, you know, give thank yous to the people who gave them referrals, right? And it’s more one-on-one. There are similarities on all of these, but just thinking about how you can fuel those specifically.


Thank you. I appreciate the clarity there and I totally agree. It’s more of a, I’m introducing you to somebody else kind of thing when it’s in a referral.


So are we ready for the rewards? Yeah. The fun part covered reward, thumbs up for the rewards. So, rewards, everyone loves to be rewarded and there’s simple things that you can do in order to reward those who reward you if ratings, rankings, referrals and, and recommendations. The idea here is to recognize and appreciate those who do that for you on a consistent ongoing basis because they’re going to want to keep doing it. Right? If you can reword them, then why wouldn’t they want to keep doing it even more? And so things like being able to do some shout outs right on your podcast saying thank yous to people. And I do Facebook lives and I do shout outs, I do shout outs news you can use and events not to miss. And people watch them because they want to know if I’m shouting out their name, right?


And one of the things that I thought about was years ago I worked at Ceridian, which is a company in the HR technology space, and we would go to trade shows, and they wanted people to come to the booth for obvious reasons. They’re trying to collect leads and one of the things that they did was you could enter in for a chance to win the opportunity at the SHE conference and the HR technology conference to get into the Ceridian money cube. And it was just what it sounds like, one of those cubes where they grab money.


It was comical how all of these HR leaders and payroll leaders would come three times every day that they were running the money cube to see if their name was drawn so they could get in there and try to grab the big bucks. Some people would walk out of it, and they’d have several hundred dollars. Some people would walk out and they had $23 depending on which bills you grabbed and whether the strategy worked. But I think that’s a perfect example from a B2B perspective of we put some kind of reward system in place in essence to drive people to our booth. Think about how do I apply rewards to what we’re doing? You may not be selling transactional stuff like coffees and food boxes, but there are other ways that you can incorporate rewards into it. Like getting people to take surveys for you and leaving reviews and getting them to come to your booth and different things like that. For sure.


The ideas of enter for a chance to win those kinds of things can still be applied to a B2B situation too. I mean it depends on who’s taking the survey. But you know, it could be a really good incentive.

People are motivated not just by money, but lots of other ways to reward them. Gamifying it where they get a token, or they get like a badge or something if they’ve got a profile or whatever because they’ve done the actions that you wanted them to do, and they followed through with it and then you reward them with some sort of recognition in some way.


I wonder if even offering a free service in your business or something like that would work. Even that can be a reward, especially in the B2B space. I feel like this has been a really fun conversation. I love your five Rs. That’s great. There’s a lot to be said about getting your work, getting your name out there, getting your brand out there and having people talking about you, as we discussed in the very beginning of our conversation, a lot of people take the recommendations and the reviews way more seriously than a digital ad or a billboard or anything like that that they see because they know that it’s authentic and they know it’s coming from somebody that they know and trust. So that’s huge. And these are all really good ideas to get that conversation flowing. Think it’s a great, powerful lever to building brand awareness and trust in, especially in the crowded HR market, HR tech market because as we’ve talked about before, there’s just hundreds and hundreds of people that your companies that you’re competing against. So, these are really good tactics to break through the noise.


Well, that’s a wrap for today. Be sure to check out our friend Ray Allen’s podcast, The Marketing Expedition Podcast for more insights around how to build your brand and tune in next time to The Demand Gen Fix for more thoughts and insights on how to rev up your demand generation engine to achieve high growth. Thank you so much for having me.

Thanks for being here, Ray.


Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends. We’ll see you next time.

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