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The power of word of mouth

Word of mouth isn't just about getting more traffic. It is about getting serious leads, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2006 16:38 IST

"The PC is personal again" says the Hewlett-Packard advertisement.

A company the size of HP perhaps has done in-depth consumer research to know different consumers, different needs, different PCs.

Let's take the premise "the PC is personal" to be true.

That means with a good promotion plan the person behind his personal computer can actually become a catalyst to your promotion strategy.

He can help you make inroads in his social, professional and personal networks.

Confused? Ok let me explain.

The power of numbers

Suppose you have a website and you had let's say get 10 visitors on day one. Of these 10 people you may or may not be able to get more visitors or customers to your site.

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So out of 10 people to your website, just 2 more have been able to come because of those 10.

What if you could do this?

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For every one visitor or customer to your website, you get at least 50 more. That's the power of word of mouth marketing.

Word of mouth marketing - social and professional networks

Just one visitor leading to 50 more visitors, that's the power of word of mouth marketing.

Now imagine if your website could in a way, captivate the visitor, have a way for him to refer it to his friends, provide him an incentive for the same and give him a share in the profits.

Imagine what it could do to promotion and the kind of numbers it could bring in.

Word of mouth isn't just about getting more traffic. It is about getting serious leads. For example, imagine the kind of social and professional networks that you could capture.

A case of a network

Let's take the most basic case of referral.

Suppose a doctor in a leading hospital likes an article written on your website on heart transplant. He decides to refer it to five of his colleagues in his and other hospitals.

He also sends it to his son studying medicine in US and daughter who is a fitness expert.

The referral mail is sent to the friends, family and colleagues from the doctor and chances are they will read the email.

Now, just on a single layer, imagine the quality of leads your website is getting. Now imagine the high quality of network and social circles you could capture.

Success of word of mouth

The key points to a good word of mouth or referral program are:

- High integrity: If you think that by capturing people's emails you can spam, then you are mistaken. A quality referral program can never be built without integrity. The rule is high integrity and high quality.

- Technology: It has to be very sound. Whether it's about IP tracking, cookie handling and other technical issues, the technology has to be absolutely updated to be able to track referrals and visitors without being intrusive.

- Incentive: An extremely important motivation for the visitor to help you make in-roads in his social/professional network.

- Control: The visitor should be in control of his referrals. In other words, he should have access to his referrals, his income and other information of every detail.

Word of mouth promotion does wonders for any business if implemented well.

The kind of tracking and monitoring mechanisms technology makes possible for an online business makes word of mouth even more lucrative as an online model.

The key to its success is quality, integrity and a good incentive and it's bound to give results.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist atwww.cyberzest.comand editswww.thebusinessedition.com. You can email him onpuneet@cyberzest.com