Would you say that word of mouth is the most effective and powerful form of marketing today? Any day or age actually?
If you answer a resounding “yes”; then you’d belong to a large group of folks in business – experts and novices alike, who answer the same.
It’s an absolute fact that word of mouth marketing is the preferred marketing form because it has awesome potential to catapult a business and its owner(s) from obscurity to the spotlight in record time. With the advent of social media, the time between obscurity and the spotlight is dramatically reduced.
Example! Yesterday, I came across a Facebook post from a family friend asking votes for her daughter to audition as a cheerleader for an NFL team. I voted and then shared the post on my timeline. Within minutes, folks in both our streams were commenting they had voted. Moments later the post was shared to the stream of a friend of the young woman seeking to audition. And I have no doubt, the same will continue. As they say – “the beat goes on!”
Word of mouth marketing is powerful as long as it’s positive in nature. Adverse business conditions can change the landscape of WOM as quickly as it was kicked it into high gear. Thus the importance of staying on top of our business dealings with current clients as well as potential clients to insure what is dropped in the water ripples downstream with nothing to impede its progress!
I love the image added here because it speaks to what is so powerful about “spreading the word” when we (and others) share something liked and valued. It only takes a small pebble dropped in the water to create ripples that reach far downstream. A reach that could never occur any other way!
Here are some questions I consider when contemplating the use of word of mouth marketing:
1. How do I make it happen?
2. Is it something I just do vicariously? Or ought I consider a strategic plan for pebble dropping?
3. And how many pebbles do I drop?
4. Should I spread the word on everything I do and say? Constantly throwing stones in the business waters?
5. Or choose the best times, places and folks with whom to share – leaving the ripples in their capable hands?
If I were a marketing expert, I’d have the answer to all the above; but I’m not. And chances are, the women in small business who read this aren’t either. So does that mean we, like David, load our pouch with a few shiny stones and hope one of them hits the mark?
Let me suggest that when approaching use of word of mouth marketing, we design a plan that makes it look vicarious by nature. In other words, those observing our downstream ripples simply see something shiny that they want to explore further. What they see is a glimpse of me as a woman – then another glimpse of me as a woman in business. They see something of who I am. As well as what I do.
And it all appears as a naturally flowing stream of information which builds a sense of trust and a desire to know more simply because it is – natural!
I admit, what I’m trying to convey is hard to do with words. Somehow the sense of naturally flowing doesn’t flow easily via text. But if one thinks of the magnificent Budweiser Clydesdale ads which tell a story in such a natural warm-hearted way that one forgets it’s a “commercial” – then you get the idea. Behind those great advertising moments is a ton of planning, strategizing, perhaps a survey or two (or more), time, taping, rehearsing, editing – and money.
What comes across our screens gives a glimpse of the heart of a company as well as what the company brings to market! You think such marketing effort doesn’t produce word of mouth – think again.
I’ve shared the post-911 Clydesdale ad with others over and over again. For no other reason than it tugs at heart strings and is indelibly imprinted in my mental file as something of value that I want others to see and enjoy as well.
That’s pebble dropping at its finest!
So what’s the outcome of my mutterings on the subject of word of mouth? Simply this:
*If you want to make an impact, do and say something that is as much personal as it is professional.
*Something more about life and less about business.
*Something that touches the heart but leaves the mind wanting to know more.
Then ask others to join you in pebble dropping and word sharing. First share and ask for feedback.
And when the feedback is just what you want it to be – ask them to join you at the water’s edge and cast the next stone after yours!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
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