To get your customers talking about you, you have to give them something to talk about, right? (Anyone else suddenly feel like listening to Bonnie Raitt?)

All 90′s music jokes aside, sometimes the best way to get ahead is to take a step back and let someone else do the talking. After all, we’re naturally inclined to trust our friends’ opinions over that of a business any day. But, how can we make our customers do what we want?

Get them talking by trying these four easy word-of-mouth marketing ideas:

Exceed Expectations

Simply, give your customers something positive to talk about. If you’re providing outstanding customer service, you’re bound to get some word-of-mouth marketing going on naturally.

Not sure where to begin? To help get some momentum going online about your business — and give yourself a great opportunity to provide exceptional customer service — you need to monitor your reputation online. You can do this by checking all review sites for your business and responding to both negative and positive comments.

Do a search on Twitter (type your business’ name in the search box) and then check out all the tweets that reference your company or products. If you find any negative tweets, tweet the person and let them know you’re sending them a direct message to rectify the situation (and take the rest of your conversation offline).

This will show the person — and the rest of the online world — that you care and actively respond to feedback, which ultimately will only increase your company’s credibility online. When you go above and beyond when it comes to customer service, word-of-mouth marketing is easy to accomplish.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Word of mouth marketing

Dr. Blazer, a dentist in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona, has seen great results by requesting that happy patients post online reviews. She makes the process simple by sending a follow-up e-mail that contains links to online review sites. It’s a fast and easy way to encourage customer interaction, and get people talking about your business. But if you don’t have an email program to try this idea, don’t worry.

You can do the same thing — and still get great results — by posting a sign in your office asking your customers to review you on a site like Yelp.com. Sometimes all it takes is for you to ask your customers nicely to help you start getting some word-of-mouth marketing going about your business.

Stand Out with a ‘Thank You’

Greg Taylor, chief creative officer and founder of Marketing Press, doesn’t wait for happy clients to thank him; he takes matters into his own hands. At the completion of a successful project, Taylor sends fine chocolates and a sincere thank-you note. Scott’s Marketplace was recently the recipient of Taylor’s generosity, and guess what we did? We shared our excitement in posts on Facebook and Twitter — instantly creating word-of-mouth marketing for Greg (and his business!).

Can’t afford to send chocolates? Why not try just the thank-you note? It’s a more affordable, yet unexpected gesture, that might just be the very thing to get your customers talking about your business.

You Have to Give to Get

Word of Mouth marketing special offer

Offer your current customers a referral incentive for every new customer they recommend. Or better yet, offer the deal to both your new customer and the referring customer. For example: “Recommend a friend and you both receive 25% off your next purchase.”

By offering an incentive like this, you’re giving your customers an immediate reason to talk about your business. This is a great word-of-mouth marketing tactic that can help boost your business quickly. To promote your special offer, be sure to use all social media mediums your business is currently on, as well as email marketing.

Tell us: Which word-of-mouth marketing idea will you try?