It’s long been known that there is no more powerful form of advertising than word of mouth. When people hear about a product or service or business from someone not paid to tell them about it, it means much more than anything you could possibly buy. But while word of mouth advertising is always happening, is it working for your company or against it? Here are some things you can do to make sure word of mouth doesn’t wind up being your worst enemy.
The sad truth about people in general is that when people have a good experience with a business (or person, for that matter), they usually keep it to themselves. Unless the service is so over the top extraordinary that they simply need to tell others (or they just happen to be the type of people that like to share good news–a rare breed indeed), no one will ever hear from them about their experience. On the other hand, if someone is wronged by a company, they will climb Mt. Everest to make sure as many people as possible hear about it. If you don’t believe this, go to any message board or consumer reporting website and read feedback on companies and products. You’ll come away thinking that you should never buy from anyone at any time. Of course, this isn’t true, and you may think to yourself that you provide good service. Of course you do. Still, that’s not enough. As illustrated, just one bad experience can make the rounds far more quickly than a hundred good experiences. You have to make sure you have enough positive stories circulating to counteract the bad ones.
The best, most productive word of mouth is many times generated purposely, and comes about through hard work and direction, rather than through hope and happenstance. You can generate the direction and style of word of mouth advertising by enlisting the help of your friends and family members. It’s not unethical, nor is it uncommon. The best businesses do just that. Particularly in today’s internet age, and the advent of the viral marketing era, more and more seemingly grassroots movements have their origins at the company itself. How do you get it started?
Have your husband or wife tell her group of friends about your business. You don’t need anyone to be deceptive, or “hide” their relationship to you. In fact, so much the better if they don’t. Friends naturally want to help friends. When someone happens to ask a friend of your spouse where they get their dry cleaning done, they’ll happily mention your business, even if they themselves have never spent a dime there.
Word of mouth advertising is as powerful a tool as you can use in the marketing realm. But it is just that: a tool. Don’t make the mistake of looking at it like some mystical force you have no control over. If you want to take the reigns and guide the direction of your business, you need to have control over every aspect of your marketing. That includes word of mouth advertising. To do anything less, to let fate decide your company’s destiny, would be irresponsible.
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