July 27, 2021

WORD OF MOUTH (WOM) -The power of recommendations

Dr. Pedro Longart

Maybe you have heard that the most effective way of advertising any business is by making people recommend that business spontaneously. That recommendation can be given either online, or in a casual conversation with friends, family or acquaintances. Obviously, people trust more a recommendation who has nothing to gain if he tells you about the best surgeon in town, the more cost-effective procedure, the greatest food. I remembered that when I moved to the UK 21 years ago, my British uncle recommended brands of basic groceries, shops and other brands. I am still loyal to many of those brands, and I try to find them when I am abroad. Another fact is that younger generations trust more a recommendation than paid advertising when compared to their parents. As a matter of fact, around 75% of people do not trust advertising (that doesn’t mean that you should not advertise though!).

This is not only relevant to products but to experiences such as travelling to a tourist destination, choosing an airline, or nights out with friends, either in restaurants or any venue. Offline (face to face recommendations) carry a lot of weight, particularly if we know well that person or share common interests, for example, you love to eat out in restaurants. A business owner should always try to encourage their customers, especially loyal patrons to recommend the place and create schemes for rewarding recommendation. However, nowadays we are much more familiar with online recommendations. The key difference of online recommendations is that they can be spread much more quickly. A marketing consultant can help you in creating that process where people can market to each other. This is called “viral marketing”. The percentage of online recommendation has increased, particularly after Covid-19. That percentage according to some researchers was around 10% years ago. However, it has been found that 70% of marketers focus their spending on online word of mouth. Digital marketing can help but you should never discard efforts on offline WOM marketing.

Whether online or face-to face, business owner can utilize tactics to encourage word-of-mouth. Dr. Pedro Longart researched about the effectiveness of introducing surprises to restaurant customers. Are they effective? Well, they are but must planned and monitored very carefully. Implementation requires expertise and patience. However, there are many other cues that can trigger positive Word of Mouth. In the famous best seller, “The Tipping Point”; Malcolm Gladwell referred to the “Power of Context”. What does it mean in practical terms? This means that you need to introduce a talking point that relates to customers. A famous restaurant in London has a fish tank bar. Other restaurants have interesting memorabilia. You need to be creative and offer a clear differentiation about this talking point.

There are many powerful ways to harness the power of word-of-mouth. One that requires expertise is the development of “WOM triggers”. Triggers can be of different sorts, competitions, surprises, teasers, and so many others. Triggers must be adapted and should reflect “uniqueness”. You should never imitate a competitor, or even worse what a business in another industry works. These triggers can be very cost-effective, but they are not cost-free. Spending time and money on triggers that do not work is a non-starter. If you want expert advice on how to make customers spread positive word of mouth about your business, please contact longart consulting today.

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