The livelihood of every small business depends on establishing and building a positive brand reputation. Marketing to your target demographic and reaping the rewards of a successful campaign can set your company on the path to a bright future. Carefully and intentionally setting the groundwork and then relying on the most powerful marketing method in the world can set you apart from the competition.

The secret to your success has been around since the beginning of time – and it will not break your budget because it is free! According to recent industry research ranking the most influential marketing methods, word-of-mouth (WOM) ranks first, followed by Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

This is not surprising. Historically, even when the traditional methods of advertising featuring print, radio, television, internet/web, and email comprised a savvy marketer’s toolkit, WOM still prevailed. That’s because, no matter how big or small a marketing budget may be, WOM, also known as “earned media,” is based on the power of direct experience and the influence of trust.

According to Nielsen’s latest (2021) Global Trust in Advertising report, 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

It is important to keep in mind that you can control the narrative of earned media by taking steps to ensure that your business receives positive recommendations and enthusiastic referrals. Happy customers are happy to provide endorsements. Endorsements lead to sales.

Word of mouth can generate up to five times as many sales as paid ads.

Word of mouth may be directly responsible for 9 in every 10 purchases.

Over 1 in 4 customers will completely avoid a small business about which someone they know shares a negative story.

The Key to WOM – Customer Experience

As a small business owner, your goal should be to give your clients the very best user and customer service experience possible. Once you achieve this feat, you have “earned” well-deserved accolades and established a loyal base who will spread the word, rewarding your business with “organic WOM.”

To ensure that you will receive the positive benefits of organic WOM – essentially letting your reputation speak for itself – it is essential that you implement and maintain the following:

  • Provide an exceptional product/service
  • Encourage a customer-centric culture
  • Hire and retain knowledgeable and friendly employees
  • Address problems in a timely manner
  • Keep promises
  • Be accessible
  • Encourage positive reviews

Brands that offer positive experiences receive three times more word-of-mouth!

Customer loyalty, in most cases, is worth ten times more than a single purchase.

The average customer who has a negative experience tells eight to 16 people.

Build Your Reputation Organically – And With Additional Efforts

When you keep the focus on maintaining the high quality of your product and services, WOM will organically work in your favor. But to keep pace with your competitors’ strong social media presence, it is critical that your business DOES have an active social media presence. An effective marketing campaign incorporates “old” tried and true practices with the “new” and trending.

Here are a few simple tips to help enhance your organic WOM:

  • Feature your best reviews. Use your website, google business, and Facebook to highlight client testimonials.
  • Establish a referral program and promote it on your social media. Typically a win-win!
  • Encourage and incorporate user-generated content on your existing social media platforms. This is today’s version of WOM.

In Conclusion

The enduring value of WOM is recognized by industry leaders worldwide, including the American Marketing Association and the Association of National Advertisers. Periodic research, surveys, and statistics support the contention that establishing a positive connection with current and potential customers can be more effective than “collecting” large numbers of “likes” and “followers.”

Perhaps the best approach in today’s social media-driven world is to combine the age-old wisdom of “quality over quantity” with an active and healthy social media presence.

Statistics provided by a 2021 research study conducted by SEMRUSH https://www.semrush.com/blog/word-of-mouth-stats/


IMC is a full-service website and digital marketing firm located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Services include website design and programming (including eCommerce database and custom software integrations), branding, content creation, print collateral materials, and hosting. www.imediaconsult.com