Word-of-Mouth MarketingCompanies these days, it seems, have come to accept social media as a relatively effective and low-cost marketing tool.

Large and medium-sized companies all rushed to have their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages set up. Some even get them professionally curated and updated by a social media manager.

With the popularity of social media, large corporate accounts even outsource or directly hire their own Facebook specialist, and all other types of social media professionals.

Somehow, gaining “followers” and getting “likes” organically is not enough; one has to get a few thousand likes in one post, and have millions of followers, to be considered as having some sort of social media clout.

Attempting to adapt

But if you look at the trend among small traditional companies that have been around for 20 years or so, the process has been relatively slow (although clearly, some of them have begun to join the social media bandwagon albeit in an uncertain, hesitant manner, under the advisement of trusted branding and marketing experts).

Most of these “old” companies start out with a basic Facebook page, garner a few likes, and then end up abandoning their page, leaving it unmanaged for an indeterminate amount of time. Sometimes they only get back to it during special occasions like Christmas or the New Year.

One wonders, though, why these traditional enterprises continue to thrive. These could be a flower shop chain, a trucking company, a family-owned restaurant, a couturier, a catering service provider, a pet shop or a neighborhood barbershop.

And why do major establishments like fast food chains, banking institutions, software solutions providers, mobile phone companies and the like need to spend millions of dollars on traditional marketing tools over and above social media marketing? What do the small companies depend on that these big name brands have somehow overlooked or underutilized?

This is where the power of word-of-mouth marketing comes in. Take a look at its characteristics and understand why it is something companies should never ever take for granted.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

1. It is cost-free.

As opposed to traditional marketing collateral which is fundamentally costly, and social media marketing as we know it which also comes with its own price tag, word-of-mouth marketing is free.

This is when you get referrals from one customer to a prospective customer. Some companies offer discounts or give referral fees to referring clients, but it is a small price to pay for free personal advertising.

2. It builds strong bonds.

Remember why your family keeps calling the same company for their plumbing services? It’s probably because your father’s great-grandfather had been their loyal customer from the very beginning.

When a service provider or their product is consistently praised, and you have experienced the benefits of sticking to a particular company over the long term yourself, it’s only logical to stand by this time-tested company. And that makes for strong, special bonds between company and customer.

3. It is timeless.

There is always the element of time when it comes to brand loyalty. If you have happy customers, their happiness is doubled and even tripled as they spread the word and they get the same great feedback. This horizontal growth will also go vertical as your loyal customers stay loyal down many generations through the years.

4. It is viral.

This is where the saying “your reputation precedes you” can be best applied. People who have never tried your product, but trust the endorser or referrer, would still want to try your products or services out first even if they are offered a bigger discount elsewhere.

If your new customer is happy with your product or service, consider them loyal for life. Expect the news to spread, too.

Conversely, though, one disgruntled customer who was never given the time of day can destroy a company’s carefully built reputation through the same medium.

5. It is personal.

Companies that thrive on word-of-mouth marketing have an edge over mega companies that have a faceless representation. That is why you see restaurant owners making their rounds during slow hours, chatting up customers briefly just to get a feel of how their experience is. You know the feeling of attachment that gets built as you and your old electrician share a cup of tea? Or when you talk to your beautician as she does your hairstyle for your sister’s wedding? That’s a priceless connection.

All you need is one happy customer, and word of mouth will do the rest.


Article WritingTony Youssef is the co-founder and CEO of Pulsar Group. Pulsar Activation is a full-fledged hassle-free brand activation agency that has been based in the UAE for 10 years, with branches in Beirut and Cairo. Pulsar Production is the “State of the Art” manufacturing facility in the MENA region. Prior to Pulsar, Tony was Managing Director of Mobile – freshness MENA region. Prior to Pulsar, Tony was Managing Director of Mobile – freshness MENA Marketing Solution Company.