We hope we have succeeded in getting you to think about the dubious value of advertising for your business, if you hadn’t already independently arrived at this conclusion. Now it’s time to talk about a marketing strategy that does work: personal recommendations. In our view, promoting personal recommendations is a superior, yet often overlooked, strategy to attract and keep customers.
“It is the thing you look for, ache for.” (CHARLES GLENN, ORION PICTURES)
The idea of people making recommendations to other people is so familiar to us that it often takes a big stretch of the imagination to understand what a significant factor it can be in improving the profitability of your business. Most business owners have no idea just how powerful this tool is because they don’t know how to use it effectively. Yet ask yourself how many of the interesting people you have met, places you have visited, and-more to the point-high-quality small businesses with whom you have had positive relationships, have come to you from friends who cared enough to tell you about them.
We prefer the phrase “personal recommendation” over “word of mouth” but we use both phrases in this book largely because “word of mouth” is so commonly used. The problem with word of mouth is that it’s often negative. If a customer drives out of your tire business and the tire falls off the rim, you’ll get plenty of word of mouth but it won’t be good. Personal recommendation, on the other hand, is a spontaneous gift from one generous person to another (or, in the case of the Internet, to many others). Very well-run businesses create a feeling of genuine appreciation that is passed from one customer to another.
Personal recommendation is what we are after in marketing. We don’t believe that “any publicity is good publicity” for business. It simply isn’t true. Generating “buzz” or “word of mouth” alone is not sufficient to get new customers, as we’ll discuss in this chapter.
Source: Michael Phillips & Salli Rasberry, “Marketing Without Advertising: Easy Ways to Build a Business Your Customers Will Love and Recommend,” Nolo, 2008
Republished by Why Online Marketing