By Deana Haworth, Senior Vice President, Director of Account Services
It’s no secret that the most trusted form of advertising is word-of-mouth. Consumers tend to trust friends and family over an advertisement because of course an advertisement says their product is best, that’s what it’s there to do. In fact, word-of-mouth accounts for 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions (McKinsey Quarterly).
So how do we, as advertisers, make advertisements count while also providing word-of-mouth results? It today’s economy, it’s easy for business to hear that word-of-mouth sells and simply assume that advertising and public relations are an unnecessary expense, when in reality advertising and word-of-mouth can — and should — work hand-in-hand.
In a word-of-mouth world, reputation is everything. What consumers see, say and do can make or break your chances as a successful business. Public relations can work well to build a buzz surrounding a business and to build a foundation that supports word-of-mouth marketing. Good PR will provide consumers with key messages to draw on when and if they choose to share about an experience with an organization. An unfortunate result of word-of-mouth marketing is that when something goes wrong, 10 people talk about it — when something is right, it seems like only two. Often times, public relations is needed to fix word-of-mouth gone wrong. Public relations in a “crisis” situation creates key messages for the public that make sure that what people are talking about is what you, as a business, want them to know.
Advertising is successful when used as reinforcement. Advertisements keep the business/product in the public eye and create conversations when there isn’t a buzz-worthy story — good or bad — circulating.
When it comes down to the moment of purchase, word-of-mouth and advertising are neck-and-neck in developing markets with 46 percent of influence coming from word-of-mouth and 40 percent from advertising (McKinsey Quarterly).
All forms of marketing have their place in the industry and word-of-mouth campaigns should not be ignored. Instead, business should integrate word-of-mouth into a strategic and well-researched campaign that can target specific audiences and garner measurable results.