I visited a brand new local small business yesterday, checking it out for the first time. While the young lady behind the counter served the customers in front of me she asked them where they were from and the conversation turned to, “We’re here because ‘so-and-so’ told us about it”.
The woman behind the counter replied, “Yes we’re slowly getting more business and we’re counting on Word Of Mouth to help us…”
I realized I actually physically cringed. Ughhhhh…. There’s that ‘Word Of Mouth’ thing again and I wondered why those harmless 3 little words have such a strong negative effect on me.
After thinking about it all afternoon I realized why. I constantly hear statements like: “80% of my business is Word Of Mouth” or “I’m counting on Word Of Mouth to grow my business” or “All I need is more Word of Mouth” from small business owners who continually struggle with getting more customers.
Yes, Word Of Mouth is an effective, inexpensive, and truly pure form of marketing. You can’t get any better than having an army of raving fans marching in the streets declaring how wonderful you are. There is no better endorsement of a brand than to have someone with no ulterior motive rant about their experience.
Word of Mouth does not equal “Do No Marketing”
Here’s what I think – and please, correct me if I’m wrong – I think many business owners think that getting “Word of Mouth” attention is the easy way out of doing any other marketing. I think business owners think if they open up shop, put out a decent product, and provide friendly service everyone is automatically going to tell all of their friends about it and they’re going to be rich! I think business owners think that word of mouth requires no work, other than opening up shop, plugging in the “Open” sign each day, and delivering a good product with a smile. I also think that what most small business owners don’t realize is that Word of Mouth is a strategy; one that requires planning, thought, and action.
Getting people to talk about your stuff takes work – yes, WORK. There’s that dirty word again. Nothing comes for free; nothing comes easy – especially in the world of small business. Word of Mouth is really about proactively creating, grooming, and nurturing brand advocates. It’s about creating a truly unique experience, and delivering on it diligently and consistently.
To harness the real power of Word of Mouth, you must Surprise and Delight. You must create a unique experience that is memorable and talk-worthy. You must create stories worth being told over coffee, at family gatherings, in line at the grocery store! You must be able and willing to think outside the box– do something different, be unique!
Word of Mouth marketing – or rather the success of Word Of Mouth as a tool for growing a business is a strategy. It isn’t a “sit back and let it happen” magic pill of business growth.
What do you think – am I totally out in left field on this one? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!! Leave your comments here.