Becoming a Gush-Worthy Business

In Worth Every Penny, Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck say that small businesses should have “gush-worthy” standards, advising you to thrill loyal customers so that they will have a reason to gush about you. This sort of customer evangelism can lead directly to more sales. Just what is gush-worthiness and how do you get some?

Word of Mouth Gushing
Photo courtesy of veritasnoctis

The Business of Word of Mouth

People like to talk about the products and services they buy. More than you might think. The average American talks about 10 brands each day. Those conversations last 3-5 minutes. Two-thirds of those conversations include recommendations to buy, consider, or avoid the brand. (Source: Keller Fay Group TalkTrack). Being talked about is great, but being gushed about is better. Gushing fans get you business because recommendations from friends are the most credible source for purchase decisions.

When it comes to word of mouth, there’s TALK, there’s BUZZ, and then there’s GUSHING. Let’s see how you can climb the ladder from simply being talked about to being gushed about.

Three Rungs of Word of Mouth

TALK: Your business is mentioned in conversation. The talk is sporadic and happens when you cross the customer’s mind. This means you do not have top-of-mind awareness, but something external prompts your business to be mentioned. This is considered neutral word-of-mouth about your business. You generally have a positive reputation with customers, meaning you are probably meeting most customer expecations.

BUZZ: Persistent talk about your business from multiple sources. Happens when you are hot. You have done something to gain top-of-mind awareness and have received some publicity. This is considered positive word of mouth and is better than talk. Unfortunately, BUZZ is usually temporary. When BUZZ dies down, a business goes searching for the next big thing, diverting attention from core brand competencies.

GUSHING: Enthusiastic, emotional praise for your business. Customers are so enamored with you, that they take the initiative to tell people about you. This is the best form of word of mouth because it includes a recommendation to buy. It happens spontaneously by a customer evangelist.

What makes people gush?

The specific answer for this question is different for every business. But “gushworthiness” is a product of being extraordinary, and for that you must surprise people. In Ed Keller and Brad Fay’s excellent, The Face-to-Face Book, they say the key is to break a schema: do something disruptive that totally surprises and overwhelms the customer. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.

The disruption must be part of your brand story. For example, having all your employees dress up as clowns, making balloon animals for customers is disruptive, but probably not a good idea for a medical clinic. Also, the disruption cannot be the usual suspects of quality products, low prices and great service, because those are things people expect.

Finding Your Disruption

To break a schema, you first identify what people expect from you. That’s the price of admission. Then, you need to do some brand analysis and decide how you can amplify your brand promise. What can you do within your promise that is above what people expect. So much so that compel them to gush about your business. Disruptions don’t have to be shocking they just have to defy expectations.

I got to thinking about what businesses I gush about and why I gush. The local business I am most likely to gush about is Dancing Bear Pub, a craft-brew joint in Waco, Texas. Here’s why I gush.

1. I love the product. I’m a craft-beer lover, and this is the best place in town to get craft beer. They cater to the craft-beer crowd. You won’t find the big three light beers here.
2. The menu is different every time you walk in. 20-25 craft beers on the chalk board. The first thing you do when enter the door is walk over to the board to see what new tasty treats are on the menu. Every visit is different.
3. They remember my name, and I only go every several weeks to once a month. The bartenders rarely turn over and they pay attention to each customer. I feel special there.
4. It’s still somewhat of an unknown in Waco. I think that enhances their gushworthiness because I get to tell people about a business they’ve never heard of before.

The list above is not that complicated and is evidence that you can easily do the same. So why not? What can you do to make people gush about your business?

You might also be interested in:
Creating Magic Moments that Spark Word Of Mouth
The Meaty Rules of Word-of-Mouth Messaging
Word of Mouth Tips from Jackie Huba

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3 comments
mariawilliams672
mariawilliams672

A very good article that is some or the other way is helpful... i like the concepts of gush,  buzz and talk

Sarah Petty
Sarah Petty

Jay - okay so mentioning our book in your post for sure makes me want to gush about you! I am a firm believer that if people are NOT gushing about you, something is broken in your business. I ran into a client a few years ago in JULY and she pulled my holiday card out of her purse, all tattered and torn. She had been carrying it around for 6 months showing it to everyone she could! To promote my photography studio, each year, I go all out to create the coolest holiday card I can - cool photos, dynamic design and engaging copy, It is one of the reasons we receive so many referrals and are positioned as a leader in my market. I can't wait to hear everyone else's gushworthiness!

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