Before modern technology, people got their news and information from neighbors and friends. The grapevine was the only way to find out what was happening in the world or even in your own hometown. While our means of communicating with one another have changed dramatically, the simplicity of “word of mouth” marketing hasn’t. It is still the single most effective, yet overlooked, means of marketing for any business.
Contrary to what many believe, the astounding advances in technology have not made word of mouth marketing obsolete. In fact, they have done exactly the opposite! With web 2.0 and the social networking sites it encompasses, word of mouth has gone from someone telling a few people over a period of time about a company they have done business with, to immediate reviews and customer experiences shared with hundreds or even thousands of people. You can’t get access to that kind of viral marketing anywhere else!
According to a recent U.S. study:
- 2/3 of U.S. business comes from word of mouth
- 10% of consumers influence the purchasing decisions of the other 90%
- 91% of consumers are likely to make a purchase based on a recommendation
- 92% of consumers prefer a word of mouth recommendation to other forms of advertising
Those numbers have to get you excited about word of mouth marketing. I know they did me! The only question now is – how can you utilize this amazing marketing machine? Is it even possible to control word of mouth?
According to Ivan Misner, Founder and CEO of BNI, the world’s largest referral organization, and a Business professor at California State Polytechnic University – not only is it possible, it’s an absolute must for any business. He says that the three most important things you can do to begin increasing business through word of mouth are:
1. Diversify your networks – In order to get the word out about your service or product you must be visible and active in the professional community. Participation in various networking groups and professional associations are the best way to achieve this.
2. Develop your contact spheres – These are other businesses that aren’t in direct competition with you but offer a service or product which compliment your own. A perfect example is a Real Estate Agent, an Insurance Agent, a Home Inspector, and a remodeling contractor. These businesses do not compete with one another but each offers something that the customers of the other businesses need.
3. Word of mouth is more about farming than it is about hunting – Build strong and lasting relationships with professionals in your community and business organizations. Keep in mind that when it comes to business, it is not what you know, but rather, “who” you know.
By utilizing these strategies and remembering to ask for referrals, you will be well on your way to a successful business using this powerful form of marketing. Make sure to share your experiences below. I’d love to hear from you!