On the grapevine: why word-of-mouth advertising should be your top marketing priority

As the world advances and competition across all industries becomes more concentrated, it’s harder and harder to be heard. Standing out among the crowd and having an impact, being able to sway audiences and create influence, is something that takes time. No one becomes an authority overnight – be it an individual or a brand that, suddenly, everyone wants to be a part of. It takes real commitment and the ability to create a positive sphere of influence to really develop that kind of engagement.

In marketing, this is no exception. As traditional tactics and tired push-strategies become more and more outdated, the field continues to shift towards embracing consumer behaviour, rights and values. In the past, it was all about bombarding messages to audiences, so much so that they were forced to hear about them. These days, consumers have more empowerment; they’re not going to sit by and listen to what you have to say unless you have something really worth their time on offer.

So in a world where words matter more than ever before, how do you take advantage of these trends in the field of hospitality?

What is word-of-mouth advertising?

It’s been a staple of marketing efforts for years now, but it hasn’t exactly risen to prominence until recent years. After influencer marketing really ran its course (and still is, somewhat), consumers started craving authenticity and validation from those around them in regards to their purchase decisions.

RELATED: How can the hospitality industry improve customer satisfaction?

While Google drives traffic through to a website to nurture and inform, it’s the reviews, the “positive affirmations” and “you HAVE to buy this” from trusted circles that audiences really use as their final factor. You just have to know how to tap into that.

In a nutshell, word-of-mouth includes:

  • Providing an effective way to build a brand presence, authentically;
  • People spread positive information (hopefully) about your brand and the services/products you offer, to family and friends. Those that heard these messages then are more likely to engage with your offering, conveying their own thoughts to their own Rinse and repeat.
  • Generations across Gen Z, X, Boomers and even the ‘Silent Generation’ use this form of advertising as a way to decide whether to purchase something. It’s an all-rounder.
  • It spreads a certain message about a brand to a wider audience, usually through the internet. But this can even be in everyday conversations over a coffee, or at the water cooler at work.
  • Other forms of word-of-mouth include content across news, blogs, review sites (think Google Reviews, Trustpilot, etc), and even those constant text messages. It’s virtually everywhere.

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The benefits you need to know

Honestly, the list could go on for pages, but for the purpose of keeping things short and sweet, here are a few of the biggest advantages to using this kind of marketing tactic.

  • It’s cost-efficient: It’s essentially free; you just need to access the right channels (where your target audience are active) and spread the good vibes. Engage naturally and create trust around the brand; let them do the rest. As long as you have a quality, trustworthy product or service, it’ll all promote itself.
  • You get to hear what your customers think of your brand: Sometimes it’s hard to gauge where people are at. Knowing where you need to improve or where to shift your business’s focuses is all apart of growing, and word-of-mouth helps you do this.
  • Fast-acting: Because it happens on its own from the moment you open shop, it all escalates pretty quickly. As soon as your first customer steps through your door, remember they’re likely to share their experience, so start spreading the positive atmosphere from the very beginning.

Remember that you’ll not always be able to control the messages out there. For every positive, there’s likely to be a negative one  – it’s how you respond to it that matters. Keep connected with your audience, show empathy and compassion and create a brand that’s worth trusting.

Need a kickstart on your marketing efforts for your hospitality venue? Check out our guide here.

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