Are you “ignoring” your Word-of-Mouth?

Word-of-Mouth is as old as time.  Think about it for just a minute.  When in history haven’t we heard stories where “someone told someone else about a great business, great person, place to avoid, etc.?”  As far back as you care to go, word-of-mouth has been the most powerful way to communicate the good and the bad.  And we have learned to count on it to get the “best deal” or “avoid the worst situation or person”.  Before technology, it was an extremely powerful way to help people find what they wanted and avoid the hassles.  Technology hasn’t changed any of this, just accelerated it and given us much better and more accurate information.

And it is still the most powerful way to build your business – and at the lowest cost.  So if it is so powerful, why do so many ignore it, not measure it, and essentially ignore it?  Most will say they don’t ignore it but let’s take a quick test to see where you or your business might fit into this discussion.  Give yourself an honest answer to these three questions…

  • First question – how many of you have a formal program or process for measuring word-of-mouth?
  • Second question – how much (or what percentage) of your marketing dollars are specifically put into a budget for “word-of-mouth marketing” vs. “broadcast marketing”?
  • Third question – assuming you are somewhat embarrassed at this point to your answers to the first two questions, WHY AREN’T YOU DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

One of the reasons we have found is that it is much more difficult and takes someone with a strategy and plan to actually make this a proactive part of your business.  Left to chance or hope, nothing dramatic is going to happen and you will still be having a tough time answering the first two questions a year from now.  Another reason is that this isn’t what marketing is comfortable with.  Marketing is very good at messaging “AT” the audience rather than “WITH” the audience – and as such don’t have a good handle on what would cause their target audience to talk more about them.  That is the key, “getting more of the ‘right’ people talking more about you – proactively”.

So next time you are meeting with your marketing group, ask how they intend to create  solid “word-of-mouth program” and how they are going to measure it.  It is easy to measure “blasts” and “clicks” today – but that isn’t giving businesses the information they need about their customers.  What is helping businesses grow is identifying the “small targeted markets” and figuring out how to get them talking more about you on the social networks to virally spread the word.  We have the tools, that isn’t the issue any longer.  Now you need a strategy and plan of how to go after this and leverage it for your business.

Anyone out there have a “word-of-mouth program” in place they would like to share with the rest of us?  If so, we would all be better off to hear what you are doing.

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One Response to Are you “ignoring” your Word-of-Mouth?
  1. Pete
    February 24, 2011 | 5:35 pm


    This couldn’t be more spot on! It is so important that we both engage emerging technologies and remember the successful approaches of days gone by.

    Great perspective!