Word of Mouth

I've started several small business over the years and I found, as anyone will tell you, word of mouth marketing can be crucial to getting off the ground. It can be the least expensive and most powerful, generating the most loyal of customers. As a small business owner, we go above and beyond to make sure the customers we have are so happy that they'll tell all their friends about us.

I find it interesting that as a company scales (gets bigger) an attitude of arrogance begins to develop. The idea that the knock your socks off service is not as important because the marketing budget can purchase an endless supply of customers. As unpleasant as it sounds, in the old days this may have worked. Today, this is an extremely dangerous path to tread. It only takes one upset customer who takes their complaint to the internet for a PR firestorm to erupt overnight! Once that happens a company needs to think very carefully on how to respond. If they don't know how to interact in the social media world, what may seem like the right response will simply throw gasoline on the blaze.

While it is true that keeping customers satisfied can avoid problems, the positive affect of building consumer advocacy can have a profound affect on your business. Instead of creating a negative PR firestorm, why not put some effort into creating a positive one? Reaching out to your customers who are passionate about your product and/or your service and partnering with them to spread the word can be the most efficient and powerful marketing programs your company has ever seen. Word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing, large or small.

Advertising has to reach hundreds or maybe even thousands of people to influence one person to purchase your service. A happy customer only has to tell one other person to generate a sale. What is the cost and time difference? Huge! A group of advocates can reach and influence so many more people than you can ever hope to and with much more effectiveness. It doesn't take much, all you need to do is give them something great to talk about.

thoughts inspired by Seth Godin's post this morning: "Who Spreads Your Word?"