The Best Marketing Is Word-of-Mouth

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Feb 01

We know it from our personal experiences. Word-of-mouth marketing is the best because we all believe our friends more than some advertiser. But generating word-of-mouth business is a challenge. I have no control. It just happens, right?

Actually, there are things we can do to encourage people to talk about us. I just listened to a fascinating podcast, “Word-of-Mouth Marketing,” by Karen E. Klein, Business Week Smart Answers columnist. She interviewed Bertrand Cesvet, about his new book, Conversational Capital.

Bertrand said we need to plan from the beginning to encourage word-of-mouth marketing. Think about the “story” we want people to tell. Basically, people talk about consumer experiences. He gave examples of Cirque du Soleil and Volkswagon to show what it means to have a story.

In Conversational Capital, Bertrand covers eight elements to becoming a topic people want to talk about. It really comes down to developing a great “story.” What I got from this is that it needs to be something people experience. I bring this back to benefits.

Just what is it that the customer can experience with your product or service that is exciting? In other words, what emotional connection will they make? Remember, not all word-of-mouth is positive. I’ve told my share of stories about service so bad I’ll never go back. Here’s an interesting “story” from a blog post Seth Godin made July 05, 2005: Red Lobster claims to be a Maine company, but they’re located in Florida and, at that point, didn’t have any restauarants in Maine. While I may not stop going there because of this lie, it undermines my respect for the chain. I’ll give them some slack because it’s a “theme” restaurant.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard wonderful stories about the salesperson who became a resource and so earned ongoing business – he helped the manager of this manufacturing line to solve a problem with production. The engineer I spoke to made it clear he wanted to ensure he would have access to that salesman’s knowledge and ideas because the rep made his job easier.

“Stories” I’ve told people include my confidence in getting a fabulous Ribeye steak at Outback Steakhouses everywhere I go in the U.S. The best story is about how Stephen Brooks in Covina comped a meal because the service wasn’t up to his standards. And I will long remember the extra effort by Tony Gonzales at my West Covina Men’s Warehouse to fix my cuffs so I could take the suit for a trip the next day.

What can you do to make dealing with you enjoyable enough that people will enjoy telling others about the experience? Give them a “story” to tell, but be sure it’s a good story.


About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.