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Informative Articles**

Word Of Mouth Marketing Examples (Part Three)

In Part Three of this word of mouth marketing series of articles I've included some down to earth examples of techniques used by ordinary businesses to get extraordinary results.

Use local media to talk up your events The UK 2005 Farm Market of the Year can be found in the village of Orton in Cumbria. All the produce sold at this accredited farmers market is from a 50-mile radius. And up to 45 local farmers, growers and producers share their fresh produce and their knowledge with customers on the second Saturday of each month come rain, hail or shine.

At least that's the promise.

On 8th of January 2005 they weren't able to live up to that promise. The north west of England was hit by storms and suffered severe flooding. Market manager, Jane Brook, turned this negative into a positive by sending a news release to her local paper titled "We've Broken Our Promise". And this was the headline that the paper picked up, going on to emphasise the points Jane made about all stalls being set up prior to 9.30am and there right up to the 2.30pm closing time, with information on the special events and happenings at the next monthly market. A newsworthy angle that got people talking and helped bring them back to the markets. Check out It's an impressive site with lots of examples of how they build customer relationships.

More lessons from the farm Following the constant doom and gloom reporting about foot and mouth disease, the British public were extremely cautious about going near farms. In fact, they thought they were endangering farmer's livelihoods by going anywhere near their livestock.

Richard Simkin at Essington Fruit Farm, a thriving Farm Shop and café/restaurant decided on a novel approach to get the public talking and more importantly get them beck to his business. Always one to let his local newspaper know of any good photo opportunities, he informed them of a new breed of pigs 'Porkus Lignus' resident at Essington Farm. It turned out that these were wooden pigs Richard set up in the field closest to his farm. It made for a great photo and accompanying article and more importantly brought a bit of fun and a lot of people back to Richard's farm.

Richards 'local newspaper' in the English midlands has a circulation of a quarter of a million. As a result of the publicity, business trebled overnight (back to pre-foot and mouth levels) and stayed that way because everyone who returned just had to tell family and friends about the resilient 'Porkus Lignus' at Essington Fruit Farm.

With Britain in election mode recently, Richard got tongues wagging again by painting the pigs with the party colours (blue for Tory, red for Labour etc) and giving them names - Laboar, Conservapig, Pigeral Democrat etc. He made biscuits also with the party colours and sold them for 25p. As people bought them, they registered their vote which was monitored on the Swineometer, a play on the Swingometer used on the UK TV election coverage.

Miss Maud's coffee shops did something similar in Australia for many years with their 'coffee bean poll' whereby everyone purchasing a coffee in each of their Perth outlets was given a coffee bean to drop into a long glass tube of whichever party they thought would win. They then arranged for a prestigious firm of accountants (bean counters) to man the tally room! This certainly gave customers something to talk about and the media really picked up on it....especially when four state and federal elections in a row they proved to be a more accurate predictor of the result than the national polls.

Sally Jackson of The Pink Pig Organic Farm Shop and Restaurant near Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire has, instead of a normal DL brochure, a pink cut out pig, about 14cm x 17cm, with opening times, restaurant hours, map and contact details on it. This simple idea is memorable, reinforces their brand, and gets talked about. Not the sort of thing you would throw out without showing someone.

The Big Sheep in North Devon isn't just a farm, it's a theme park devoted to sheep. If you think that's bizarre...your right, but it has proved to be phenomenally successful for the zany, effervescent Rick Turner. He has sheep racing, sheep shearing, duck trialling with championship sheepdogs, an undercover ewe-topia entertainment centre and lots more fun on the farm events and experiences. One of the many talking points is the currency at The Big Sheep. You change your money for very realistic looking Euro notes ('ewero'- get it?) to

spend during your day out. Of course most people want to hold onto some 'euros' as souvenirs. Which encourages them to go back next holidays or to pass them onto friends heading down to Devon. It's an ongoing reminder and great conversation prompter about The Big Sheep. Check out

Quiet ways of getting people to talk about you Yvonne McNeil, runs the legendary 'Food For Thought' coffee shop on the main street of Masterton in New Zealand. In the lead up to Christmas her staff make occasional trips along both sides of the street checking the parking meters. If any have or are about to run out they feed a couple of 20 cents into the meter and issue their own ticket on the car windscreen which says:

"Oh no, just before the parking meter attendant was about to issue you a ticket we fed your meter. We hope that our small deposit into your parking meter saved you from a parking ticket before Christmas. - Merry Christmas from Yvonne and the Team at Food For Thought."

I heard this example on Winston Marsh's excellent Business Marketing audio magazine some time ago, and on the same edition Hank Petrusma of Petrusma First National Real Estate in Hobart gave this wonderful example. (Contact Terrific Trading if you would like to know more about 'Business Marketing').

At Petrusma Real Estate they scan the community newspaper and when they see a school student has won an award or a couple have an important anniversary they send a congratulatory card. Hank gave the example of a young lady going to Sydney as part of a choir. When they read about this they sent her a congratulatory note and a cheque for $50 towards her expenses. For an important wedding anniversary they send flowers and a card saying that they just wanted to add their congratulations from all the team at Petrusma Real Estate. Wow, would that get talked about?

At Tom O'Toole's Beechworth Bakery, July is their quietest month. So, they take this opportunity to offer school tours for children from surrounding areas. Now, we all know that children talk....and it works. Within one month of the tour one in four children will have returned with their parents. Just imagine how much that will be worth if the experience turns that child and their family into life long advocates for, and customers of, Beechworth Bakery.

Linda Cleaver of Langsford House, a lovely historic B&B in York, Western Australia as well as the romantic historic charm of the setting has a poodle/Maltese cross, Monty that is often befriended by guests and is notable for his bowtie.

Now, there are a number of B&Bs in and around York and when people tell friends about 'that lovely place they stayed" they can't always recall the name. That's alright at Langsford House though. Linda received a call from a lady who said "This may be a funny question, but my friend stayed at this lovely B&B in York and can't remember the name of it. Do you have a poodle with a bowtie?" "That would be Monty the Marketing Manager," said Linda as she took the booking.

Lancelin, an hour or so up the coast from Perth, is a popular spot for windsurfing and snorkelling. Trish and Trev run Lancelin Lodge and accommodate many backpackers. They also have a dog which often befriends their guests and takes them to the best surfing spots. Backpackers compare notes with fellow travellers about places visited, what there is to do and where to stay. Backpackers also tend to be well educated and like to read so Lancelin Lodge provides them with colourful bookmarks with photographs of young guests at the beach, wind surfing scenes and of course their dog. On the reverse of each beautifully photographed scene are all the contact details and a list of facilities at Lancelin Lodge. Brochures would probably be mislaid or tossed out but bookmarks are useful mementos. A great way of being memorable and prompting word of mouth.

Wooden pigs, pink cut out pigs, bookmarks, a poodle with a bowtie or 20 cents in a parking meter. It doesn't take much to get people talking about you and once they do they start to recall and tell others about the things that really impressed them about the experience.

What will you do or do again to get people talking about your business? I'd love to share your examples with your fellow readers. Now, that's word of mouth!

About the author:

Jurek Leon is a speaker, trainer and consultant. To subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly email newsletter go to the Free Articles section of his website
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