Back in Marketing Tip #7, I talked about Advertising Your Business on a Small Budget. That marketing tip talked about different low-cost and free advertising options that actually work. However, one free option that was not on the list was word-of-mouth advertising. If you caught that and were wondering why, or are just looking for ideas on effective word-of-mouth advertising, I figure now would be a good time to talk about it.
Just so that we are all on the same page: word-of-mouth advertising refers to the idea that if one provides a good enough product or service, your customers will spread the word about your business and help drive new leads right to your door (or website, or phone). This is also known as “Referral Marketing” because your customers are referring your business to their friends and family.
The Myth of Word-of-Mouth Advertising
What I am about to say may cause shock, so please be seated for this next part. Word-of-Mouth advertising is a myth. Yes, you read that correctly: there is no such thing. OK, well, there is. But it has a lot more to do with business lure than with actual marketing and advertising. We have all heard stories of someone who claims that they have no need for marketing because they get all the business they can handle from referrals. Sure, this does happen. Some of the stories are true. But results like these are as elusive as the viral social media post or the Loch Ness Monster.
Yes, we have all gotten referrals and it is a great thing. Yes, we should serve our customers well. Mainly because it is the right thing to do, but also because we want to be recommended. However, without a marketing strategy behind our desire for referrals, all we are doing is wishing for growth by hoping that our customers will remember to mention us. Then we also have to hope that the mention will be enough to get the friend to come check us out. Marketing and advertising are all about taking control of our business growth by creating reproducible actions (things that we can control) to gain customers’ attention and find ways to show up when they need us most (read Marketing Tip #5).
There is simply too much wishing and hoping involved with waiting for our customers to grow our business for us. Plus, the statistics about how customers share business interactions prove that word-of-mouth advertising is a myth. For example, in today’s digital world, people are 50% more likely to share a bad experience on social media than a positive one (marketingcharts.com).
The good news is that today, people are more willing to share their positive experiences. A Forbes article found that 49% of customers are willing to share a good experience. Though in reality, negative reviews still trend higher. This means that people are either not having many positive experiences or are not receiving encouragement from businesses to post positive reviews. Most likely, it is a combination of both.
What this tells us is that there is a place for word-of-mouth advertising. But it does take “marketing.” Meaning that instead of hoping and wishing for referrals, we need to take control and actively engage our customers. In our next marketing tip, we will discover ways to achieve effective results by actually running a word-of-mouth advertising campaign. By taking control and implementing a proper plan, we can turn myth into reality. Read Successful Word-of-Mouth Marketing