Where Does Word of Mouth Start?

Oct 08, 2008

In my last post, I outlined a few ways in which your customers will be talking about your business – customer review sites, social networking sites, etc. I also urged you to participate in the discussion versus just letting it happen – if people are talking anyway, why not get involved? Word of mouth marketing is going to happen for your business, for better or worse. At least give yourself the chance to address any issues that customers may bring up.


But one glaring omission in that post was a discussion of the source of all word of mouth marketing: you.


In fact, don’t even think of it as marketing. When that term gets thrown around, many people become intimidated and think, “Well, I don’t know anything about marketing…” Sure you do. You started your business because you offer a quality product or exceptional customer service, right?


Congratulations, your marketing campaign is complete.


Word of mouth is ultimately determined by how happy your customers are with you, not by how creative your ads are or that awesome buy-one-get-one-free promotion you came up with. In his excellent book, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Andy Sernovitz breaks it down very simply:


"In the end, marketing is pretty easy. If people like your stuff, and if they trust you, they will tell their friends to do business with you. Learn to make customers really, really happy. It doesn’t take much more than that.”


So if the idea that your customers have all these outlets to vent about your business is keeping you up at night, make it easy on yourself. Give them only positives to talk about. There is no substitute for outstanding customer service. Problems will always arise here and there, but even then you can salvage the situation by doing whatever you can to fix it. If that proves impossible, and it sometimes will, make that customer’s experience the exception to the rule. Eventually, your customers will be surprised that anyone ever has an issue with your business.


Thoughts on this? Any experiences with businesses that just simply wowed you and caused you to tell everyone you know about them? What about times when you were really let down by an experience? What would it take to get you back?

Tags: marketing
Category: Marketing

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