I’ll bet Word of Mouth (WOM) is the number one way your company gets business. If so, you’re not alone.

WOM is the leading way customers find out about start-ups and small businesses, study after study has shown. Even search is now driven by Word of Mouth. (Google and other search engines optimize for user reviews, a form of WOM.)

Yet most companies aren’t fully harnessing the power of Word of Mouth.

Here are five ways to turn Word of Mouth into leads and sales now.

Identify WOM Champions or “Advocates.”
Ask your customers the “Ultimate Question” for loyalty: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company or product to your friends?” Customers who respond 9 or 10 are Advocates. A simple survey can do the trick.

Encourage Advocates to rate and review your products.Seventy percent of consumers trust online reviews, Nielsen says. And 67% of consumers don’t buy after reading only one to three negative reviews, according to Lightspeed Research. Make it easy for Advocates to create and post online reviews by giving them online tools. Here’s an example of online reviews tool Webroot, a security software company, give to its Advocates.

Amplify Advocates.
Enable Advocates to rave about you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere by including social sharing widgets in content creation forms.

Monetize Advocates.
Give Advocates promotional offers they can share with their friends and colleague. Here’s a hint: give Advocates special offers to share instead of the same offers you give everyone.

Generate referral leads.
Make it easy for Advocates to generate referral leads and referral traffic to your website and landing pages by including links in the content and offers they share with their friends and colleagues.

Like any marketing programs, WOM marketing takes time and effort. But compared to other marketing approaches, WOM marketing is inexpensive and effective. So get started now!