The View From My 4 Inch Heels

word_of_mouthThe best part about transcontinental flights is the opportunity to catch up on my reading. Last week, I flew back to California from Maryland and had ample time to burn through the latest book in my “to read” pile: Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking by Andy Sernovitz. It was loaned to me by my client Lee Horwitz, president of A&M Flooring America, with a scribbled message stuck to the cover, “required reading from my national convention.”

Word of mouth marketing isn’t terminology that has made its way to any of my PowerPoint presentations in at least five years, maybe ten. What has replaced that topic these days is social media, which has become an important part of our client marketing strategies.  What this book made me realize is that word of mouth marketing is as important as ever, because social media is really just word of mouth marketing on steroids.

In the early 90s, we used to counsel clients to focus on their customer service while we focused on their marketing efforts.  Our rationale was that spending marketing dollars externally while delivering bad customer service internally was like renting an apartment versus buying a house – it takes care of your short term needs, but is like flushing money down the toilet.  In fact, we used to say that a happy customer would tell three other people about their experience, but an unhappy customer would tell NINE! This was in a time when word of mouth marketing took place while chatting over neighbors’ fences or catching up near the water cooler.

Today, customers have the power to tell hundreds – even thousands – of people about their experiences with the push of a few buttons on their smartphone. Friends will like and comment, and before you know it, even more potential customers have been exposed to this single customer experience. The question isn’t if people are talking about your business as much as it is what are they saying? Are the comments good or bad? Do you know? Are you a part of the conversation? Are you thanking customers for their loyalty and support? What are you doing to turn around bad customer experiences? Are you doing all of this publicly for networks of friends to see, like and comment on?

Sernovitz provides lots of great tips, tricks and templates for managing your word of mouth marketing in this instantly connected world. You can find these resources online at You really should read his book during your next transcontinental flight, but in the event you don’t have one of those coming up soon, I will share with you his wrap up from page 204 of the paperback:

Word of mouth marketing is about being good to people. Real people will talk about you when they like you, your stuff, and the things that you do. The word of mouth that they create is far more powerful than all the advertising in the world. It’s a wonderful thing: Happy people grow your business. In the end, it’s much more fun to go to work each day at a respected company that is honest, fun, and treats people well. It’s also a great way to become a successful business. You can make that happen.

I completely and wholeheartedly concur.

~ Jane, President of JP Marketing

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