Why word of mouth marketing is the bomb

I was talking to a school mum the other day about the good old thermos. She was singing their praises as a means of supplying alternative options to the humble sanga in her kids’ lunchboxes. I was so captivated and inspired I went straight out and hunted them down for my own kids. They’re like cool short versions with a wide mouth that can fit anything you like: pasta, rice, soup etc. Suddenly new doors were opening for me in the monotonous world of school lunches.

The point is, when I woke that morning, purchasing a thermos was the furthest thing from my mind. If I’d seen them advertised I wouldn’t have blinked.

Until this conversation with my friend I didn’t know I needed them. This little word of mouth recommendation was powerful enough to debut in the number one position on my list of priorities. It’s a bloody thermos for chrissakes. Given my hefty to-do-list the thermos was punching well above its fighting weight.

We justify decisions logically but we make them emotionally. As in: I didn’t need a new expensive leather jacket from Husk, but I’d get SO much wear out of it coming into Winter (cue more logical reasons) and it’s utterly drop dead gorgeous (hello wave of emotion to seal the deal). Likewise, the prospect of those thermoses put a real spring in my step – thanks to the picture my friend personally painted for me – and I had to have two of them.

And then I did something else. I told other mums about my new thermos adventures and inspired their lunchbox action too. I’m effectively doing thermos’ marketing for them and they haven’t spent a cent.

That’s why word of mouth marketing is pure gold. It’s credible, trustworthy and sends off a warm priceless glow that directly translates into sales. It costs businesses nothing other than doing what they do well. If I’m buying something, I like hearing first about personal experience from someone I know, like and trust, rather than from the company itself. When I was pregnant with twins, I sat down with my two best friends (who were both new mothers) and constructed a list of everything I needed to buy. From bottles to nappies to dummies, right down to the exact brand and store. It was a long list, but I was getting massive and was primed to buy whatever they told me to without question.

We do it all the time without even thinking about it. When was the last time you raved about a new restaurant or movie to someone? We love passing on a good find or being on the receiving end of a perceived well kept secret. Info is power! Even on mundane stuff. A friend with new floorboards in her home asked for recommendations via Facebook on the best cleaning product. The flood of responses was staggering. I had no idea of the passion behind wanting to share the best knowledge when it came to floorboards until I witnessed this post. (My lame response was to find a good cleaner.)   

It also works the other way. For example, provide poor service in a cafe or restaurant and the local word will spread like wildfire. It’s extremely efficient.

Word of mouth marketing stats show people love to buy based on personal recommendation. Thanks to the internet and social media it’s more powerful than ever. The trick is for business owners to find a feel-good way to thank their customers for spreading the word and referring in new business. Reward that good behaviour!

For instance, if I owned a café and a regular customer gave me a good rap on social media or held her business appointments often at my venue, I’d be giving her the odd coffee on the house to show my appreciation. To leverage the unsung tactical hero that is word of mouth marketing, the gesture doesn’t need to be expensive, just thoughtful enough to get the good vibes flowing. So think about your besties in your business and spread a little love. They might start the thermos effect for you.

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