The Power of Word of Mouth Marketing

I saw it for myself…live and in real time…the power of word of mouth marketing or WOMM.

I was getting my pedicure at my favorite spa. I love this place for their atmosphere. No TVs blaring…Zen-like music plays and peace and tranquility oozes from the paint on the walls.


It’s typically quiet…patrons understand it’s a moment to unwind.

Two fellow patrons, also getting pedicures were hungry it seems and one of them wanted a Philly-style cheese steak. It was quite serious for her. She Googled the closest restaurant to serve such, told her friend that as soon as her toe-nail polish dried, she was on her way to get her fill of this cheesy, beefy concoction.

That’s when it happened.

A woman not originally part of this conversation, came out of her pedicure-induced meditative state and said, “Oh no, you don’t want to eat there. I work across the street from that place and it’s horrible.”

And just like that it was done.

This business lost a customer just like that and maybe even more since we were all forced into this conversation.

This business wasn’t even given the chance and lost out on what could have been a really good customer all because of one woman’s testimonial.

Who knows the CLV (customer life-time value) this business lost due to word of mouth marketing.

Customer service, not clever slogans is what can make or break a company.

When word of mouth is positive, it is a company’s best friend. In my nail shop scenario, it was the kiss of death. In addition to having a good product, customer service must always be on point. Without fail. And on the sad occasion where there is a break down, a company must make it right and let its customers know it’s been addressed and resolved. I don’t know if the woman who shot down the cheese steak business had visited this place a number of times since it was close to her job or if patrons that worked in her office complained regularly. Whatever the case, there’s an issue the franchise owner is either unaware of or not willing to fix…either it way it cost him. No slick commercial, direct-mail campaign or two-for-one coupon could have possibly helped if no change to service had been made.

The Numbers on WOMM

  • It’s no surprise that 84% of consumers say they either “completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family and friends about products.” That makes recommendations from this information source the highest ranked for trustworthiness. [Nielson] The women at the nail shop were complete strangers but the shared pedicure experience was enough to dissuade one woman from even trying the restaurant.
  • This WOMM doesn’t just impact business-to-consumer companies either. Business-to-business companies can benefit or not benefit from WOMM too. 91% of B2B buyers reported that they are influenced by WOM when making their decision to buy. [USM]
  • This last stat is what was proved right in front of me that day in the nail shop. 84% of consumers reported always or sometimes taking action based on personal recommendations. 70% said they did the same of online consumer opinions. [Nielson]

How to Leverage WOMM

Millennials and Baby Boomers ranked WOM as the number one marketing influencer in certain purchasing decisions and for other items, WOM ranked as high as third. So how can a business take advantage or seed WOM among customers?

Creating great customer experiences is going to be a “gimme”. Great service should be the norm, not the exception.

People tend to share when there’s something in it for them like additional discounts, really great swag or free items or gift cards. More than 50% of survey respondents said they were likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program. Even social recognition is a valuable commodity. 66% of respondents under the age of 35 said they were more likely to give a referral after receiving social recognition. [Software Advice]

People do talk about your business.

What they say depends on the quality of your product, the customer service you offer and what cool thing you’re giving away…whether it be social recognition, gift cards or cool swag.

You just want to make sure that when a bunch of women get together to collectively soak their toes, should your company come up…they’ll have good things to say.


Stats provided by Ambassador.

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