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One of the hottest word-of-mouth messages in marketing these days is…word-of-mouth marketing! Not that the concept is new—it’s probably the oldest form of brand promotion known to man and woman—just that recent studies have shown that it’s more powerful than previously documented.

“Chatter Matters,” a newly-released report from the social media and content marketing strategy firm Convince & Convert Consulting, found that 83 percent of Americans are like to buy a product or service when they’ve received a verbal recommendation from a family member or friend.

The report also found that it’s the way most people prefer to get information when making purchase decisions: Among Americans aged 13 and older, in fact, word-of-mouth recommendations represent two of the three most popular sources of info (the third?, the study posited. Online research.)

Whose mouths are sharing the word? “Chatter Matters” revealed these variances across generations, gender and ethnicities:

  • Millennials really value word-of-mouth recommendations;
  • Women respond to offline word-of-mouth messages more than men; and
  • Caucasians are more influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations than non-Caucasians.

What many businesses and brands fail to understand about word-of-mouth marketing, the consulting firm emphasizes, is creating a customer experience that’s interesting, outstanding or memorable. In short, one that’s worth talking about and sharing with others—no matter who’s doing the talking.

Case in point: Word of mouth on the London playgrounds loudly promoted J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel back in 1997, onto the list of one of the all-time bestsellers in the history of publishing.