Why You Shouldn’t Rely On Word of Mouth for your Business

Majority of traditional business loves word of mouth. It’s one of the most powerful forms of marketing and if a word of mouth referral contacts your business it’s almost a guaranteed sale. That being said if your only marketing strategy is just word-of-mouth then it’s going to be an uphill battle for your business.


Every time we meet a business client the majority of them will always say that they are only relying on word-of-mouth marketing to generate leads and sales.


Stop crossing your fingers and hoping one of your customers will refer your business


If you have a well-established business, those word-of-mouth quality leads might be coming in. And you should be loving every one of them. And they might be coming in for a solid month or two. But what happens when that pipeline dries up? What happens when the word-of-mouth stops?


That’s right, nothing.


No leads, no business, no incoming money.


Then the panic sets in. Hard. 


And that’s what we have seen for a lot of businesses this year. We have seen countless business owners (Electricians, Plumbers, Restaurant Owners, etc) all saying that they are receiving fewer leads (and fewer bookings) than years prior.


And it wasn’t until we started having real-world conversations with each one of these business owners that had these same complaints that we found a commonality.

The common item was that they were relying heavily on word-of-mouth, referrals, being on some form of preferred vendor list, or something similar. They’re just crossing their fingers hoping that something comes in because they weren’t actively going out and doing what’s necessary to be omnipresent with those potential customers.


Slow & Steady


One of the biggest issue with word of mouth marketing is the fact that it takes a really long time to kick in. First of all, you need to provide such a great service that your customers will actually want to tell their friends about it.


More often than not word of mouth marketing is a slow draining process. Sometimes it can have a great effect and it can spark interest on new customers, and other times it will just die out.


The Digital way of word-of-mouth


With increasing access to technology and with so much information available online. Customers can simply research and look at several businesses online. You might have the service or product that they need, but on the other hand, another business is offering a discount or a newer product or additional services than what you are offering.


And even if one of your customers recommends your business to their friends, family or colleague they are still going to do quick online research about your business before doing business with you. They can do this in a matter of 1-2minutes by simply typing your business in search engines like Google or even Facebook, so if your website doesn’t show up, if you have a terrible looking website or if you have negative reviews online, it may make them a bit sceptical of your business.


Another factor why your businesses who are relying on word of mouth is struggling is because of online reviews. Online reviews show the experience of other customers about your business and not just the person who recommended your business. In a recent survey done by Brightlocal 90% of consumers today read at least 6 reviews before deciding if they will be dealing with your business. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a family, friend or colleagues.


No Data to work with


Understanding your data is one of the most critical parts of growing and scaling your business. Tracking the activity of potential customers with various marketing strategy such as Social Media, Paid Google Ads, or Google SEO.


With all the data in hand, it allows you to change your marketing strategy to be more effective. And with word-of-mouth referrals you do not have this data, making it extremely difficult to understand what your customers want and what aspects of your business needs adjustments or improvements.


Without the data, You don’t have a strategy and without a strategy, it is almost impossible to make the right decisions to scale your business.


The choice is yours!


You now have two options you can either.


  1. Keep crossing your fingers and hoping a need customer will call you, you can also hope that someone happens to pass by your storefront and decide to check the business out.
  2. Or you can proactively go after potential customers by implementing a great marketing strategy.

Creating an Effective Marketing Plan


The problem with businesses today is they don’t know how to leverage the positive experience of their customers to influence cold buyers who never heard about your business. We suggest starting with simple steps to get the most out of your word-of-mouth referrals and turn them into ways of actively promoting your business.


  1. Highlight some of your biggest client’s testimonials or feedback on your website. This should be easy to find either on the first page of your website. You can also take it a step further and create a blog about how you solved their problem and what’s their experience doing business with you.
  2. Use online advertising. Yes, we understand most small-businesses don’t have a lot of money to spend on online advertising but paid advertising has been a huge reason why there are businesses out there who are smashing their sales targets. And yes, it can be quite expensive. But you are a business owner. And you have to think of these as investments to your business and not just an expense.
  3. If you are not sure where to start your online advertising efforts. We suggest understanding your audience demographics and where do they spend most of their time online. For example, if you are selling fashionable clothes then you should be going for Instagram. You need to understand your audience’s online behaviour so you can create a marketing message specifically for them. Because if you simply create a message just saying we are having a 30% discount then your message will just get lost!
  4. Talk to your audience. One of the reasons why some of the biggest brands hire a dedicated social media manager is so they can talk to their audience and understand what exactly what they want. Ask them a question. ask them for feedback about the recent product or service they bought from you.

Final Thoughts


Word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful types of marketing. The aim is to get your existing customers to talk about positive experiences about your business.


We now live in a world where consumers don’t necessarily need to ask their friends or family for recommendations or referrals. Instead, you can just go on Google and type that product or service you are looking for and judge the businesses’ service or credibility by what they saw online through your website, social media or online reviews. This is why businesses who rely purely on word of mouth marketing struggle to find new customers.


The best option is to use a variety of marketing techniques such as SEO, Social Media Ads, Email Marketing and Content Creation to ensure your business has a great chance of being seen by new customers.

To learn how you can take control of your company’s lead generation strategy or discuss options for your specific needs. Contact our team. We’ll help create a plan specific to your business, no matter what stage you are in scaling your business.