Start Spreading The News

Written by Bill Tanzer


Many small businesses, along with the biggest and best large firms, rely on word of mouth marketing to promote a product or service. Who wouldn’t want such promotion, especially when it’s free? With social media and instant internet access available to more than two billion people, with 272 million users in North America alone, a good word of mouth campaign or a video gone viral can make a product or person well known within hours.

Not to be a crank, but all p.r. is not good p.r., despite the saying to the contrary. A recent survey of 3,295 consumers from around the country shows that more are likely to promote that product, negatively, if the consumer suffered a bad experience.

I recently spoke with a hair salon owner who was badly reviewed on Yelp. Most of the reviews of her salon were positive, from clients pleased with the service. One recent poster was not. The anonymous user decided to bash the owner in particular, by name, with over the top complaints. (In the same review, the poster fawned over a stylist at the salon, so it’s likely a friend of that employee and none too transparent.)

Regardless, the review is up for the world to see, and anyone checking out reviews before deciding on a new salon may be primed to think the owner is a lazy, ignorant sloth, if they don’t bother to scroll down to read the other, more accurate reviews.

Why am I mentioning all of this? There is no way to stop a naysayer from posting nonsense all over the net. But that naysayer can be discredited with the help of positive comments, the more the merrier. Ever see reviews on Amazon? When a book has thousands of five-star reviews and a handful of negative low ratings, it’ not going to adversely affect sales.

Which leads us back to word of mouth. Shopping bags, take out boxes, any merchandise bag that bears your company logo, all serve as positive or negative word of mouth campaigns which can lead to potential sales from new customers. How? By being catalysts to conversation. For one, hopefully these customized bags or boxes are reflective of your company, with appropriate images and eye catching designs. Two, it prompts questions when someone notices an attractive bag or box, wondering aloud what’s in it and where did it come from.

If the client or customer hated every moment in your establishment? Well that’s not going to be a positive conversation. If your client or customer was pleased with the service or store or product, which is more likely the case, they will gloat about the item inside and where it was purchased, a big plug for your business.

August 5, 2011

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