Is Word-of-mouth really a Successful Form of Advertising?

By Jenna Lawfer, Marketing Specialist, Tingalls Graphic Design

Word of Mouth AdvertisingHow many of you say that word of mouth advertising is your main form of business growth? Yeah, we did too. Contrary to popular thought, word-of-mouth isn’t a magical phenomenon that happens without any effort, as Tara and I were reminded Friday at a seminar given by Matt Hackett of the San Francisco advertising agency Hackett and Tate.

Let’s start here. What company comes to mind when I give you the following industries?
– Local car dealer?
– Furniture store?
– Fast food restaurant?

I bet you could name one company for each category instantly (mine just in case you were curious – Smart Motors, Don’s Home Furniture, McDonald’s). This is called being “top of mind”. Wonder how these companies got to the top of your mind? In most cases, it’s advertising.

Let’s break it down …

If I’m in the market for a new car, market research tells us that I will first consider the car dealer that springs to mind first.

If no one springs to mind, I’ll do one of two things: ask someone or “google it.” While asking a trusted friend was the more prevalent route just a few years ago, searching for a company on Google is now the more popular option because smart phones have made it so easy to do with just a few clicks. Even through Google, if you get 12 initial listings, you may immediately be drawn to listing #10 because you recall hearing or reading something about the company … this listing becomes more valuable since its “top of mind.”

Sensing a theme here? While word-of-mouth advertising, referrals, networking and even search engine optimization are important pieces of your marketing plan, it always comes back to brand awareness – being top of mind to your prospects or people who might speak with your prospects.

The value of advertising seems to be discounted by many small businesses because many people believe they have to do “all or nothing – newspaper, magazines, radio, TV, billboards, etc.” Making advertising cost effective for your business starts with accepting the fact that you actually CAN’T do it all. The key to successful advertising is choosing one affordable medium that reaches your target customer and use it to begin building brand awareness. Then repeat, repeat and repeat again. Repetition = reputation. Reputation = top of mind. And, top of mind status feeds your business.

Because we had so many great takeaways from Matt’s talk, we’ll be blogging more about his advertising tips in the coming days.

Thanks to Midwest Family Broadcasting and Hackett and Tate for providing this great program.

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