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Word of Mouth is Still Alive...



Word of mouth, the oldest marketing tool for businesses, is still alive with a great deal of credibility. As a business owner, you have adquired clients by word of mouth. People come to your place because someone else told them about you. Nothing has changed in this regards, except for something you should take into account: conversion levels of all available marketing tools.

In the early 60s, in a small town, word of mouth used to be the only tool to bring enough clients to our store or office. It was also true for a neighborhood within a large metropolitan area such as Los Angeles. But is it still a good marketing tool to face the competition from thousands of businesses doing the same we do in our times?

Three years ago, my friend George was selling his house and needed a realtor to take care of it. I thought it was a good idea to introduce my realtor friend Tim to George. I drove Tim to George's house. They talked a lot about the house. Three months later, George sold his house through another realtor. When I asked George who helped him to do so, he answered: "A guy whose ad I found at the bus stop."

George also told me he had seen the realtor not only at the bus stop, but also in a local magazine and in a local cable TV spot. "If he was spending so much money in advertisements -I believed - he was supposed to be a very successful realtor," George added.

George sold his house but never saw the face of the famous realtor. Perhaps, he understood the transaction in a different way: he never saw the face of this famous realtor, but he could sell his house.

My good friend George might be right or wrong, but the point is that he was enchanted by the notion of success, just looking at a guy who was under the spotlight at bus stops, magazines, and local cable TV ads.

Word of mouth failed in this particular case. Or I may be very bad at referring realtors amid a financial turmoil within real estate and mortgage industries. However, I know there are many Georges out there not only buying and selling houses but also food, insurance, flight tickets, entertainment, phone cards, and many other services.

Zuma is a contributing writer on marketing and communications.


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