Spread the word! It’s all about word of mouth.

When it comes to making an impact on consumer buying decisions, word-of-mouth (WOM) matters. In fact, a recent study demonstrated just how much it matters. BIGresearch’s “Simultaneous Media Usage Study” (SIMM12), explored how U.S. consumers believed word-of-mouth influenced their purchases in various product categories.

While some categories were reported as being more highly impacted than others, the lowest still came in at an impressive 34.3%:

• Eating out – 52.9%
• Electronics – 44.4%
• Grocery – 40.7%
• Home improvement – 35.2%
• Apparel/clothing – 34.3%

From professional experience, I know that in the health care industry, our consumer research consistently indicated that >50% of the consumers in our market indicated that word-of-mouth was the most significant influence on their choice of a provider.

From personal experience I know that I, like many consumers, am certainly influenced by the opinions of others. In a tight economy, that’s even more the case. While in the past I might have been willing to “take a chance” on a purchase without doing some research (both through online sources and friends), these days I’m much less likely to take that chance.

The significant impact of word-of-mouth can be good news to some marketers – if you have a great product which is readily available and meets consumer needs, generating positive word-of-mouth is virtually “free marketing.”

It can be bad news for others. Given the influence that others have on our buying behaviors, it would seem to behoove marketers to make sure that they’re spending time and effort:

#1 – creating and delivering a good product/service
#2 “wooing” the customers they have.

What’s even worse than not doing #1 & #2 is doing what many, many business owners do – spending a lot of time and money promoting products and services that are *not* good and that customers do not value. They’re creating word-of-mouth all right, but not the kind of word-of-mouth they had in mind.

Questions to ask yourself (and your customers):

• Does my product/service provide value?
• Is my product/service highly rated compared to other available alternatives?
• If not, what can/should I be doing to improve quality and perception?
• If yes, what can/should I be doing to encourage and increase WOM?
• If not, should I be spending any more time/money promoting my product/service when the outcome might actually mean that I’m spending money to generate more negative word-of-mouth?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Tags: ,