Friday, March 1, 2013

"Our Business Is Word Of Mouth"

Phil Wrzesinski
I've heard that countless times in my advertising career. The person who says this thinks this makes them unusual. The unspoken part is "We are so good at what we do, we don't advertise!" My first thought upon hearing this is "I would hope so!" If you are in business, and you are so poor at what you do that you don't get referral business, then close your doors, advertising won't save you.

Advertising is not what you do when word-of-mouth fails you, advertising is what you do when word-of-mouth is working for you. Advertising can make a good business better. It will not and cannot make a bad business good. 

Don't take my word for it. Read what  has to say about it. Phil is an independent retailer who writes a blog for other independent retailers. I read it because he's a smart plain-spoken guy who actually has his own wildly successful retail store. Here is what he wrote on his blog, Phil's Forum for Independent Retailer Success
Repeat and Referral business come from Shareworthy Customer Service. If they aren't the bulk of your business right now, forget about advertising. You got a bigger leak in your boat that needs serious fixing. Start training your staff to delight and WOW your customers. Otherwise the money you spend on advertising will only hasten your demise.
In my long experience, the Top 2 reasons business owners give for not advertising are:
  1. I don't have to. We get word-of-mouth advertising.
  2. I can't afford to. 
I am not here to tell others they must advertise. The truth is, plenty of profitable businesses don't advertise. They may not be as profitable as they could be, but it is wrong to think that every business owner puts profits first. I know business owners whose priority is making a living without hassles. The hassles of hiring more employees, the hassles of leasing more space, the hassles of working harder or longer. Who am I to tell them what their goals and priorities should be?

If yours is a business that is making it via word-of-mouth alone, you are at least a candidate for advertising. If you can't afford to, don't worry about it because it wouldn't help you anyway. Take what money you have and fix your business first. It would be a mistake to divert scarce resources to advertising when you are having trouble satisfying current customers.