On July 28th, I had a Blog posting titled, Twist Image Viral Marketing Strategy - Guaranteed Success Or Your Money Back, that caused some conversation and ignited additional personal insights into what, exactly, word of mouth marketing truly is: how it works and how it spreads.
This past week, in Bangkok, Thailand, I saw Word Of Mouth Marketing live in action. If you've ever been to Bangkok, odds are you've been told that you must get clothes made for yourself there. On every street is a tailor shop offering custom made clothing. Based on the Thai dollar in comparison to the Canadian dollar, it really is a no-brainer, but in a city of nine million-plus people, how do you know who to trust and what level of quality you're getting?
I did what anybody would do: I asked around. What does it tell you when three people (who are not connected) recommended the same tailor and, that same tailor was also highlighted in a recent presentation that I read about because of their easy-to-remember domain name: www.Dress-For-Success.com?
Without even double-checking references, one of my first stops in Bangkok was to get measured for some (all black) clothing at Rajawongse Clothier (more easily found at www.Dress-For-Success.com). When I told Victor Rajawongse how I had heard about his business, he smiled and said, "everything we do is based on word on mouth_ it's my entire business_ for the past forty years." And that's when it hit me: Word Of Mouth Marketing is not one of the marketing channels. It's the first one. If people aren't talking about you in a positive way - offline, online or otherwise - no advertising in the world can save you. Victor (and his Father, Jesse) made me feel confident about my choice in tailors before even touching a piece of fabric or having a single measurement taken.
As the experience unfolded I told Victor what I do for a living. He asked if I had checked out his website (I had) and then started in on an issue he had after a recent redesign and loss of Google PageRank. When I asked him how his online business has changed what he does for a living, he simply smiled and said that he probably didn't even need the store front anymore because he's producing, at least, one hundred and fifty custom dress shirts from the website business alone per day. Even without a crazy-slick website, the positive word of mouth about Rajawongse's clothing is driving the online business as well.
They're leveraging the power of international PR (the family has an impressive client list that includes Presidents, heads of state and leading business people), the online channel and in-store service to create the full experience of custom made clothes.
So what makes Word Of Mouth happen? An experience like the one I had in Bangkok with Victor and Jesse at Rajawongse Clothier: a seamless (pardon the bad tailor pun) experience that I'm now proud to share with you (especially if you're in the market for clothing) because they'll treat you right and the experience will be as good as mine was. It's the consumer's personal pride is sharing without financial gain, but with full knowledge that if you're as satisfied with your experience as they were, that you will, in some way, shape or form, think more highly of them. And, on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, that ranks very close to the top.