When consulting with existing or future business owners about their marketing strategies they say the same thing over and over; “I’m going to focus on creating word of mouth advertising to drive my business”. When we dig a little deeper, we find out why. They have no money in their marketing budget and see word of mouth advertising as free of charge. Believe us, it’s not.
Let’s examine word of mouth advertising a little. Please understand it can have far greater impact on sales than any other media. Customers trust WOM advertising over every other source of information about a business. We like to call it “WOW Buzz”. WOM advertising is created by far exceeding a customer’s normal expectations when doing business with you. It can occur from working with an amazingly helpful employee, a no-questions-asked
return policy, superb service after the sale, a sales price that provides incredible savings, a limitless assortment of merchandise, impeccable quality, or lightning fast service. And creating these conditions in your business does not come without cost.
So now the customer goes out and spreads the wonderful news about your business far and wide, right? Wrong. It isn’t that easy. Remember this word- consistency. One WOW experience won’t sustain a positive buzz if the customer is disappointed on the next visit to your business. Live for consistency in all things associated with your business. WOW them every time.
Here are some of the down sides to relying solely on word of mouth advertising. First of all, it works both ways. Positive word of mouth is great, but it can also turn extremely negative. Remember the old saying “do something nice for a customer and they will tell 10 people”? Well, guess what, make a customer mad and they will tell 110 people and some may make it their mission in life to ruin your business. Once the message gets negative it is very difficult to turn back around. Another problem with WOM is the message can’t be controlled and won’t be consistent like other forms of advertising. Also, keep in mind that the great referral a customer gives you may backfire on them if you don’t provide the WOW experience to their relative or friend. Their reputation gets put on the line, so you better deliver. The last thing to think about with word of mouth advertising is how long it takes to generate the buzz. Spreading the word on any business may take years not weeks. In reality, word of mouth advertising can make or break a business in a small market. So train your employees, clean up your store, and be honest with your customers. It’s your reputation and it is the most important asset you own.