By Lisa Hester, Senior Account Manager

(This is part one of a two-part blog post. The first post ran the week of March 19.)

More about word of mouth PR…Simply, word-of-mouth PR is defined as an unpaid form of promotion in which customers tell other people how they feel about a business, product or service. It is considered the oldest, and still most effective, form of marketing. It’s honest, genuine and trusted.

The key elements for any successful word-of-mouth activity are that:

  1. a) the information piques people’s interest, and
  2. b) it gets them talking

This chatter can be face-to-face or online and both are equally as effective.

To pique people’s interest and get them talking – as with the example of the powerful blender demolishing the smartphone in part one of this blog post (two weeks ago) – find something that is unique about your product, service or brand and focus on it. The uniqueness of your product, service or brand is what people will remember and share with others.

Then, when these engaged consumers come to you, give them the best customer service, value and attention possible so that they not only like your product, service or brand, but they love it…enough to be compelled to share that feeling with others.

I have witnessed, as you may have as well, just from the use of Nextdoor, a private social network to connect neighbors and the community in areas such as mine, that people are genuinely interested in sharing their experiences (good and bad) about businesses and services in the community.

And their neighbors are apparently paying attention to these posts. According to research, customer reviews are 12 times more trusted than brand descriptions.

But does full-scale word-of-mouth PR really work?

Dropbox, which we all know and use these days, is an example of a company that embraced word of mouth. The company did not invest many advertising dollars in earning its place in the market. Instead, it grew to an approximately $10 billion company largely via the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

As a young business, Dropbox relied on refer-a-friend programs and sign-up incentives distributed via social media. Together, these word-of-mouth strategies rapidly grew the company’s brand recognition both on- and off-line.

Indeed, refer-a-friend programs are powerful. According to a recent Impact survey, people are four times more likely to buy a product or service when referred by a friend.

But is word of mouth effective with your specific target audience?

Yes, especially if you’re going for millennials. Millennials ranked word-of-mouth as the No. 1 influencer in their purchasing decisions about clothes, packaged goods, big-ticket items (such as travel and electronics) and financial products, a Radius Global study concluded.

Baby Boomers also ranked word-of-mouth as most influential in their purchasing decisions about big-ticket items and financial products.

Once you gain a full understanding of what your company/brand needs to do to start generating word-of-mouth PR, move ahead with it. Let it spread like wildfire. Just be sure to monitor the chatter and act on both positive and negative comments and use wisely this wealth of information you gain from it to further promote your product, service or company.