You’re getting word-of-mouth marketing every day. Even if you think, “I’m not asking anybody to refer to me, so I don’t need to concern myself with this. If I provide good products or services, I’ll naturally get some customers by word of mouth. Why bother with plans and strategies? I’m getting free word of mouth advertising every day, and it’s not costing me any time or effort.”
Word-of-mouth marketing is always working, you ARE getting it every day. It just may not be the kind you’re thinking of. Unbeknownst to you, the message people are hearing about your business may be vague, not too clear. It may even be – negative.
Satisfied Customers are Good, Right?
“How can my word of mouth be negative? I have plenty of satisfied customers.” Yes, we business professionals are very grateful for our satisfied clients. However, they may not be the ones doing the most talking. The demanding, unreasonable customer who left your establishment very unhappy and less than satisfied, is probably going to talk loudly and for a long time.
One study revealed that the average dissatisfied customer complains to eleven people about their experience, and those eleven each tell five others. That is an average of sixty-six people hearing ‘horror’ stories about someone’s unhappy trip to your store.
Does your average happy client make sure that sixty-six other people know about your great service and products? It sure would make business easier if they did.
Is it Positive AND Accurate?
Positive word of mouth that is inaccurate or aimed at the wrong target market may be as detrimental to your business as the negative type. If someone gets the mistaken idea that you’re in the trucking business when you actually sell trucks, they may get aggravated and frustrated enough while straightening out an honest misunderstanding that it costs you future business and referrals. Similarly, if your focus is on high quality and someone is promoting you as a low-cost provider, unrealistic expectations are created.
It is important that your marketing message be conveyed accurately and that your prospects know what to expect. It is a lot easier to exceed the customer’s expectations if those expectations are realistic.
Is it Vague and Misleading?
Even without the occasional disgruntled ex-customer, your word of mouth may be too vague to be of any use. For example, you are a tailor, and one of your clients is talking about you with their friend. “Good tailor, eh? What do they do besides alterations? Do they do reweaving?” If your client is unable to answer those questions, the message is too vague to get results.
Or it may be misleading. “Well, they have a full lineup of men’s clothing, but I don’t know if they do custom tailoring or alterations. It may all be ready-to-wear.” The uncertainty can create doubts, again costing you the referral.
Without a strategic plan, you have very little control of what’s being said about you. Without a way to measure the results of your word-of-mouth marketing, you have no idea if it’s really working for your business.
Good customer service is important because it reduces negative word of mouth. However, by itself, good customer service won’t generate enough positive word of mouth to build your business. Word-of-mouth marketing is always working. Make sure it is working FOR you rather than against you.
What is your experience with positive word-of-mouth marketing? Share how it has helped your business in the comments.