Word of Mouth Marketing. Some people think it’s not ‘proper marketing’.
Pedro, an entrepreneur in Colombia, told me he wasn’t able to do any real marketing because of a lack of budget in the early stage of his web design business. He assured me that once he had generated some profits he would devise ‘a proper marketing plan’. No problem, I said – I understand the situation, especially at an early stage of a business, when money is tight. But I also said to him that he had managed to win clients over the last several months and delivered several successful projects.
I asked him how those projects came about and where he found the clients. He told me, very apologetically, that they had been simply word-of-mouth recommendations. The first website was for an ex-colleague who heard he was going into business and happened to need a website. Soon afterwards, this client recommended him to a business associate and Pedro won another contract. And so it went on, from customer to customer. It intrigued me that Pedro was so apologetic about winning clients in this way without ever advertising, without what he would call ‘a proper marketing plan’.
On the other hand, I remember a client who had set up in business using a redundancy payment after losing his day job. He spent £5,000 GBP on advertising and attracted no new customers at all. The whole amount was wasted. And he had what he thought was ‘a proper marketing plan.’
Word-of-mouth is the oldest promotional technique in the world. From the moment human beings learned to communicate they were advising others about what to do, where to go, and what to buy. So why is word-of-mouth regarded as ‘not proper marketing’? Why is word-of-mouth marketing disparaged in this way?
Personally, I think that it’s the best kind of marketing communication – certainly the cheapest, and one of the most effective. In the digital era, it can be even more powerful. Video testimonials are inexpensive to produce. Customers talk to each other electronically, globally and rapidly using social media. Word of mouth promotion is more powerful than ever before.
Word of mouth marketing is cost effective and can work brilliantly. This is despite some people’s view that it doesn’t count as ‘proper marketing’.
What to do next
* Encourage your customers to tell friends and colleagues about your business by word of mouth, both in person and online.
* Contact your top five customers and politely ask them (perhaps over lunch or a drink) to recommend you to their colleagues and contacts.
This is an extract from David’s marketing book ‘Chase One Rabbit: Strategic Marketing for Business Success. 63 Tips, Techniques and Tales for Creative Entrepreneurs’.
Read this and 62 more inspiring and practical marketing techniques on your smartphone by downloading this strategic marketing book as an eBook. It is also available as a paperback and as an Audiobook. This highly-acclaimed marketing book is also available in Spanish and French.