Middle East Business

Word of Mouth: Your Most Powerful Tool

Word of Mouth: Your Most Powerful Tool

Words by Medy Navani, Founder & Creative Director of Design Haus Medy

According to the Nielsen Global Trust In Advertising Survey, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends. That means if you aren’t receiving word-of-mouth recommendations for your business, you’re missing out on the single most effective and trusted means of attracting new clients. Despite the prolific influence of social media on modern society, marketing researchers have established that the vast majority of information shared about brands is actually offline, rather than online. We engage in many conversations everyday that lead us to the exchange of ideas regarding brands, products and services. According to research, “more than two-thirds of those conversations we participate in involve a recommendation to buy, consider or avoid a brand.” Therefore, word-of-mouth communication is a critical part of the consumer decision making process. Why is word of mouth so powerful in comparison to traditional advertising? I see the two key factors being trust, and consumer targeting.

Trust. Unsurprisingly, we trust our friends more than we trust billboards. We know brands pay to place their ads in print, online and broadcast platforms and we are acutely aware that advertorial recommendations come from the brand itself. Ads will always provide glowing product or service reviews – brands don’t provide balanced reviews of themselves, therefore we tend to take them with a grain of salt. Our friends, however, will be honest. They have no ulterior motive to say they like a brand if they don’t. As a result we’re more likely to take on their recommendation as genuine and accurate. The bottom line is consumers trust fellow consumers, while brand-led advertising is treated with caution and scepticism.

Better Targeting. Word of mouth is also a much more targeted form of marketing. For instance if you are selling baby shampoo, you might choose to advertise on TV during morning programs when you predict your target consumer is most likely to be watching. Yet while a segment of the audience you actually reach may in fact be new mothers looking for baby shampoo, many may not. Ultimately you cannot accurately predict your viewership. Word of mouth is more focused. A friend is less likely to pitch to you the technical advantages of their Macbook Pro unless they know it is relevant to your interests. Friends and colleagues share common bonds, meaning that if your product appeals to a particular individual, it is likely to also appeal to their network of peers.

So how can you as a brand harness word of mouth and leverage it to your advantage?

  1. Start by investing in building relationships with the people that matter most, giving them words to share, and making it easier for them to spread those words for you.
  2. Be  sure to specifically request referrals from happy customers and clients, they are your best advocates.
  3. Additionally, foster positive word of mouth within your own business network through suppliers, strategic partners and business associates, to ensure those who understand your brand can also spread positive messaging within fertile networks where new business opportunities exist.
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