Before the age of information (and the age of reliable worldwide shipping), one of the great things about a vacation in a far-off land would be bringing back some foodstuff or drink to share with friends that could not otherwise be bought here in America. One of our staff here at the Rental Center of Monticello spent a semester abroad in Italy many years ago and he shared a recent ad campaign from Haagen-Daaz centered around “limoncello.” For those who don’t know, limoncello is a drink that’s probably around 100 years old that is created by steeping lemon zest in grain alcohol until the lemon oil releases – that yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. It is amazing, and you should try it.
The ad focuses on people’s mouths pronouncing the word “limoncello” and closes with a shot on the ice cream from Haagen-Daaz flavored as limoncello. Our employee showed this to us with two intents: 1) to reminisce about how great limoncello was and how he felt “cool” that you had to go to Italy to get it (not anymore – you can find it at some liquor stores) and 2) to wonder how silly an ad campaign would be for us to have people saying “Monticello” into the camera!
This led to a discussion about advertising and how people learn about our business. Here, one of our staff had just shared a great story about a drink he had in his college days that the lemon producers in Southern Italy are grateful to have told. And after two decades in this business (we haven’t been in business as long as the limoncello people) we know one irrefutable fact: word of mouth is advertising that you just can’t buy. It’s priceless. It’s necessary. And without it, you don’t have a business. So for today’s blog post I thought I would focus on the three reasons why word of mouth is very important to our business (and hopefully give you some perspective and reflection points as either customers or fellow business owners).
It starts in conversation and isn’t pushy
There are a couple ways someone can hear about our business in conversation: someone has just completed a project and wants to share about how our equipment really helped them get the job done, or someone is thinking about doing a project and doesn’t really know how to start, what to get, or where to go.
Both of those are positives for us. In one case a happy customer shares a story about an experience with us. In another, a potential customer, already in a sense a “warm lead,” is asking for help that should lead right to us.
This sort of interaction is every business owner’s dream, but it starts with delivering great service to your already-existing client. Doing that pushes you to a greater spot of awareness in their mind, and hence an easier place for them to share with others.
It can’t be bought
Any business that wants to grow has to choose from many different channels of advertising. And while we’re writing an article about word of mouth, we aren’t trying to say that you can’t or shouldn’t advertise. But we are trying to say that you can’t buy word of mouth.
Over the years we’ve tried to incentivize some of our happiest and most loyal customers who were already sharing our brand with others but we found that many of them weren’t interested in the incentives. They were happy with our company and wanted to share with others.
This also means that the stories being told about your business are authentic and legitimate. Sure, you can “buy” fake reviews from people on various online forums, but after a while either Google will spot and remove those and/or people will become hip to what are “real” reviews and what are fake.
It allows us to continue a dialogue
Sometimes a current customer will say something about us to a potential customer like, “If only they had this one part” or “I definitely didn’t expect to pay as much as I did, but it was worth it.” This gives us an opportunity to call that customer back, check in with them and make sure that they are happy and satisfied – and more importantly, to ask for feedback. We never take happy customers for granted, and we never lull ourselves into thinking we can’t improve all the time.
Word of mouth – especially in the information age – means that we can have relationships with our customers across a much longer timespan – and this hopefully means not only a chance to help spur them to think about the next project they may want to do around their house – but also, as we said above – to stay in their mindspace so they think of us first when a friend is brainstorming about a project. We’d like to think that our rent-by-the-day, not the hour, pricing is cool enough on its own, but it’s always much cooler to hear a customer say that to a potential client for us!
Have a great weekend!