Many businesses, especially small or new businesses, rely heavily on ‘word of mouth’ for sales and growth.
Philip Kotler was right when he said: “The best advertising is done by satisfied customers.” Word of mouth can be lucrative and cost-effective in the short term, but by its nature, it can only grow your business so fast and so large.
Some businesses think that word of mouth is the only way to build their business. However, sitting back and hoping that people will naturally talk about and trust your brand isn’t an effective growth strategy long-term.
Why isn’t word of mouth enough?
Growing your business through word of mouth, recommendations or referrals is a great sign. It means that people trust your products or services enough to recommend them to others.
However, at some point, those recommendations are likely to slow down or even stop altogether. Customers will often recommend your business once or twice. There’s also no guarantee that new customers will ‘spread the word’ about your business organically, or that those who hear about your business will become a customer themselves.
Waiting for people to talk about your business, and waiting for that word of mouth to turn into more business, can be effective, but it’s a long-term and slow growth strategy. If you want your business to continue to grow beyond those you know, and those that they know, you need a robust PR strategy.
Word of mouth vs PR
PR is all about building relationships and trust for your business. If you’re relying on word of mouth, you already understand the essence of PR.
If you’re a decent business, your customers will trust you enough to recommend you. However, building that trust with ‘strangers’ (ie those that don’t yet know you) is key – that’s where PR comes into play.
PR spreads the message behind the ‘word of mouth’ referrals to a much wider audience, helping your business to build trust and grow more quickly.
Do I need a professional?
Businesses – big and small – often question the necessity of hiring a professional to support their PR efforts.
Whether you’re thinking about in-house or outsourced support, hiring a PR professional will give you the knowledge and expertise you need to strategically target new audiences to build trust and grow your business. They’ll have the experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t, so you can focus your energies and resources in the right place.
Outsourcing your PR function doesn’t need to be expensive, especially when you spend some time doing your research to understand exactly why you need PR. If you want to know how much PR costs, there’s no clear answer, but it’s important to remember that a robust plan will help to guide costs, so you don’t go over your PR budget.
Reducing reliance on ‘word of mouth’ with PR
Word of mouth is an important part of your initial business growth, and it’s important in understanding what your customers love about your business.
Once your business has established itself, PR can play an important role in building your business more quickly, beyond word of mouth referrals.