Using Word of Mouth Marketing to Boost Catering & Event Sales



Have you ever bought a product or service from a company that a close friend or relative recommended to you? If you have, you were a key part in word of mouth marketing. In a nutshell, word of mouth marketing is when people spread awareness or reviews of a product or service through oral communication. In an age of technology, spreading awareness through word of mouth may seem antiquated or even ineffective, but this type of marketing is essential for any business. 


To get more testimonials, repeat customers and sales via word of mouth engage with customers, ask for reviews and share customer experiences with your audience to attract more clients. 


Throughout this blog, we’ll walk through where word of mouth fits into the marketing funnel, upselling strategies, how to get repeat clients, an overview of word of mouth marketing and how to ask for and use testimonials. Let’s dive in! 


Where Word of Mouth Fits into the Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel is a customer’s journey to making a purchase. There are several stages of the funnel and each stage includes different strategies to help businesses make a sale. Word of mouth actually fits well at the end of the funnel, when potential customers are evaluating their options.


A good word of mouth review can tilt the scale in your favor. For one, customers who have purchased from you can share reviews of the product or service, driving others to enter the top of the funnel. A good review can pique the interest of potential customers, bringing in more leads for your business.  In addition, potential customers who are unsure of making a certain purchase can look up reviews and testimonials that will help them make a final decision. As businesses follow customers through the funnel, they should take note of how word of mouth plays into the journey. 





Upselling Strategies 

Upselling your customers is an effective way to boost sales. As I mentioned before, word of mouth is a powerful tool and it can also be used as an effective upselling strategy in the form of social proof. Social proof gives your sales pitch more credibility and gives your customers a good reason to trust that the upgrade will work for them. When you present a product or service upgrade, make sure you have data to back up your claims.


For example, let’s say you’re a wedding planner and you want to sell a service add on. Let the customer know how many of your clients bought the add on and how it helped them. You can also direct them to links where they can read the reviews for themselves. 


Getting repeat clients

Getting and keeping clients that continually support your business is a key point of success. If you’re thinking how can I get more clients for my business, I’m here to tell you can also do that through word of mouth. Most importantly, provide a great service or product that customers will want to use again. Not only will they likely want to use it again, but they will also want to share with friends and family which brings in new customers to share the experience.


Once you get new customers in, utilize some strategies to encourage them to become a repeat client. Provide excellent customer service, use personalized marketing and invite them to join a loyalty program where they can get rewarded for staying on board. 


Word of Mouth

Did you know that 92 percent of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising? With that said, we can see just how important word of mouth is to the success of any business. Word of mouth marketing builds your credibility and brand.


When a trusted friend or family member recommends a business to a person, that person is more likely to believe that you have a quality service or product. In addition, customers who found your business through a referral will more than likely spend more on your services or products. They trust it, so they don’t have to be apprehensive about spending money.  


Another great benefit of word of mouth is that it’s cost-effective. You don’t have to spend a large sum of money on paid ads or promotional material; your customers spread the word and more customers come. Word of mouth is a marketing tool you want to have more of however since this type of marketing is strictly up to your customers you don’t have a ton of control over it. However, you can encourage your clients/customers to share referrals. Here are three ways to use the help the word of mouth strategy work for you:  


Engage with your customers

Engaging with your customers is a great way to build trust and to encourage them to spread the word about the business. Engagement can come in many ways. You can reach out to customers on social media, through your website or your blog. Ask them to leave reviews or to give feedback about a certain service or product they purchased from you. Respond to comments and answer any questions they may have. You can also build an online community where you can join in meaningful conversations with your customers as well as share information and be a trusted source. 


Equip your customers 

Equipping your customers is giving them a reason to talk. How do you equip your customers? Give them a great product or service to rave about. In other words, make an impression on them. If you’re an events business, aim to create an experience for your customers they won’t forget. Weddings can be the single most important day in a person’s life, so if you have a wedding planning business, plan a wedding that resonates with the bride and groom as well as the guests. The list goes on. 


Empower your customers

Empowering your customers is similar to equipping your customers, but this step is giving your customers easy ways to spread the word about your business. For one, you can have a referral program, in which customers can get a discount or special offer for referring your business to a friend. Also, host limited time promotions and events. If your customers feel like it’s a good deal they might invite friends and family to join in so they can get a good offer as well. 


How to Ask for and Use Testimonials

Asking for testimonial has to be done right or you run the risk of coming off as annoying or unprofessional. First, make sure have the right timing when you ask. You don’t want to ask for one before the customer has even made a purchase. The best time to ask for one would be after the customers have purchased the product and service and have had time to use it.


Another good time to ask is after solving an issue or complaint. Once you determine the right timing, determine the method you want to use to ask. Email is an effective option.


To increase the chances of them responding to your request, personalize emails by using the customer’s name. You can also ask for testimonials in person or through social media. If you’re a restaurant owner, you ask for reviews/testimonials on your menu. Also, anytime you make a sale, include a link to a place where customers can share their thoughts. Try offering an incentive to encourage more testimonials. Also, if you haven’t heard back after asking for a testimonial, be sure to follow up. 


Getting testimonials is half the job. Once you get a good number of them from your customers, use them to your advantage to help boost your business. Did you know about 91 percent of consumers read online reviews when searching for local businesses? When using customer testimonials, make sure to put them somewhere where they can be seen. This can be your website, blog or social media channels. You can also create a dedicated page on your website, highlighting just customer reviews and testimonials. You can also use them in call to actions.


For example, if you’re catering business and you want to book clients for the holiday season, include a link to customers who had a great holiday party catered by you in a social media post or YouTube video. You can also use them in emails that you send out to your leads and returning customers. 


I hope this blog will help you get a head start on using word of mouth as a strategy for boosting your businesses.


If you’d like more marketing tips for your events or catering business, check out my free marketing funnel guide where you can learn how to increase client, how to achieve sustainable growth and more.


Also, take this quiz to find out what areas to focus on to grow your business. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aleya Harris is the owner of The Social Media Pantry and Growth.

She is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, data-driven marketing strategist, change leader, brand manager and creator, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing professional on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner.