Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) and Retail

Written by Doron Levy

The best marketing tool for any retailer is Word of Mouth referrals. That’s when a customer raves about your brand or service and their friends or family. This can be a double edge sword for merchants. Customers are more likely to relay bad experiences to more people then they are good ones. It makes sense to build an internal culture that embraces and capitalizes on WOM.

I always love those signs at smaller stores that say ‘The best advertising is a referral from a satisfied customer’. Those signs are so true and having them in your store will get customers thinking about that. I would add something like ‘If you had a bad experience with us, please do not leave the store until you tell someone and we fix it’. A lot wordy but you get the idea. This concept conveys the message that you are serious about customer service.

Talk to your staff about WOM and how important it is for success in retail. Asking open ended question to customers can reveal a whole cornucopia of information that can be used in WOM. Statements like, ‘Tell your friends about us’ or ‘what types of products or services would you like to see in the store’ are great closing statements that prioritize WOM. Talking about WOM with your team will also help build a culture of service. Learning about body language and physical cues can help you and your staff determine if there is a problem before it leaves the store.

Statistically speaking, customers are more apt to relay negative information about an experience. It’s up to the merchant to stop the negative flow of information. Building a culture of service will ensure that you and your team are sensitive to customer feelings. WOM is the strongest way to drive sales in a slumping economy. Use your team and your store to convey positive WOM messages. Just remember to back it up with service and value when those referrals come walking in.

Doron Levy is president of Captus Business Consulting. Captus provides support to the retail industry. His blog can be found at and can he can be reached at

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