Word of mouth is the marketing strategy of choice for many small businesses. It's cheap; it's easy, and it gets the word out about your business to your community. And, any small business marketing campaign based solely on word of mouth probably isn't going to succeed.
Before you argue that word of mouth has worked just fine for growing your small business, consider how much better you could be doing if you went beyond this strategy in your small business marketing. Here are a few good reasons to go beyond word of mouth to create a truly effective small business marketing campaign.
Word of mouth has limited reach.
While the goal of word of mouth advertising is to get people talking to their friends and family about your business, chances are your reach will always be limited with this approach to small business marketing.
Even if all of your customers told everyone they know about your business, your reach would only extend through their networks. And, many of the people in those networks wouldn't be interested in your products and services.
If you want to reach a wide audience, and make sure your message reaches the people who are actually interested in what you have to offer, you have to do more with your small business marketing. Word of mouth will limit your influence and spread your message to the wrong people. You need strategies that are specifically intended to tell the right people what you have to offer.
Word of mouth can be negative.
You know how amazing it feels when a happy customer sends their good friend over to you? That feeling makes word of mouth marketing seem like a great idea. And it is true that word of mouth can earn you customers.
But what about that time a disgruntled customer told all their friends to avoid your business? Word of mouth cost you business in that case. If you don't have a marketing strategy in place to counteract those bad reviews, you're likely to keep losing business, especially if the unhappy customer takes their negative review online.
If you want to counteract negative word of mouth reviews, and promote your business in a way that is always positive, you need another approach to small business marketing.
Word of mouth messaging is hard to control.
Sure, you want people talking about your business. However, the tricky part is that you don't know what they are going to say.
For example, say you sell clothing with a focus on affordable but stylish pieces. You don't want customers telling their networks that your prices are high.
Unfortunately, if you rely on word of mouth for your small business marketing, you don't control the message people get about your business. The only message people hear about your business is what your customers tell them. If you want to be sure your audiences are getting the message you want them to hear, you need to go beyond word of mouth in your small business marketing.
Word of mouth spreads slowly.
It will naturally take time to see the results of any of your small business marketing endeavors. However, word of mouth tends to work more slowly than do other forms of small business marketing.
The slowness with which word of mouth works is due primarily to the fact that it takes time for people to talk to their networks, for those individuals to choose to try your business, for them to further spread the word about your business, and so forth.
In the meantime, you need a way to reach your target audience quickly. You need additional strategies in your small business marketing arsenal.