Categorized | Business


Word-of-Mouth Marketing
By Tom Irmen

I’d guess it was about 10 years ago, after having made a sales presentation to a community area bank president, that he informed me that they relied almost entirely on “word-of-mouth” advertising to grow their business, and would not be interested in the print display ads and articles that I was promoting. I responded by telling him that word-of-mouth advertising was indeed a powerful platform for many businesses, but that when I selected my mortgage lender, business, and personal banker, while still living out of state, that I had never heard of either him or his bank.

I secured a six month advertising contract for half-page display ads in this magazine’s companion publication, East Tennessee’s Mountain Views.

As one who sells print display advertising for a career, I accept the fact that I may appear to lack objectivity. But as one who also advertises, I understand and accept the legitimacy of all advertising platforms, and that includes word-of-mouth.

My personal belief is that most advertisers who state that they rely entirely on word-of-mouth advertising do so out of complacency or lack of financial resources. While there are always exceptions, I would not recommend ignoring the opportunity that varied advertising platforms might represent to the success of my small business. Neither would I tempt fate by hoping that I might be one of those fortunate few who have succeeded by word-of-mouth alone.

The iconic Coca-Cola Company, which began back in 1886 and which today controls over half of the world’s carbonated soft drink market, invests an estimated $2 billion in advertising annually on a variety of advertising platforms. And despite possessing the most recognized brand in the world, it appears unable to sustain or grow its market share with word-of-mouth advertising alone.

I still believe that word-of-mouth advertising has enormous potential value. Word-of-mouth advertising, and this includes today’s social media, combined with the power of other carefully selected advertising platforms, can produce far superior results than the reliance and use of any one single platform.

Multiple advertising platforms should be relied upon to create the catalyst for word-of-mouth advertising by informing, educating, and promoting your small business. Basically, you want to be in the position to influence and drive what people are thinking or saying about your small business. And these combined platforms can accomplish that objective.

Embrace word-of-mouth advertising as a component of your overall marketing strategy. But total dependence upon it, unless you’re one of the fortunate few, will likely result in less favorable results than your competitors who implement a combined and balanced multi-platform approach.

Here’s something else to consider. Only advertising done poorly costs money. Advertising based on a well thought-out and carefully implemented strategy will provide a return far exceeding your investment.

And finally, success in advertising and marketing requires patience. If you think you’ll hit it out of the park your first time at bat, you’ll likely be disappointed with the results.

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