Why Are We Still Neglecting Word Of Mouth?

January 30, 2007 Blog 8 comments

Church of the Customer’s Ben McConnell pointed to this interesting bit of research by BIGresearch recently. Apparently, advertisers have been making all the wrong investments in mass media advertising when most people still relies on family and friends to give their recommendations on what to buy.

According to BIGresearch:

As more marketers seek to make media expenditures accountable to the bottom line growth of their company, the consumers in the survey don’t seem to be on the same page as advertising expenditures. When asked which media most influence their purchase decision for various product categories, consumers’ choices are rarely in line with advertisers expenditures.

Now I am pretty sure that the same situation applies here in Singapore too. Many FMCG companies and car retailers still spend tonnes of cash on mass media advertising, outbidding each other in the advertising wars while totally neglecting their loyal customers. However, most of the time, we don’t buy based on what we see on prime time TV. We buy after asking around our family and friends for recommendations, drilling the sales assistant at the shop, or checking out all the online forums and reviews.

Why don’t those businesses spend just a fraction of that fortune on getting their existing pool of customers all excited (and maybe even fanatical) about their products or services? Better yet, look at how they can listen in to the conversations online or offline, in blogs or coffeeshops, and see how they can get their existing clients to refer or recommend them to associates.

Speaking of which I know for sure what my next big thing is going to be at work….. Yeah!

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. For me, I will get attracted by certain advertisement which then trigger a thorough search on the internet AND survey among friends n colleagues, b4 making a decision. Nvr underestimate the power of word of mouth! I most likely will drop my mind if that products hv a bad reputation among its pre-user. Bad news spread like winds, y’ know.

    Hmmm.. wat r u contemplating, insider?? (>_

  2. Quite true.

    Most of the customers who come to my Optical shop is through ‘word of mouth’.

    And most of my students who come to me for lessons and professional advice is also through ‘word of mouth’.

    And if I want to buy a big-ticket item, I would ask friends and relatives for recommendation too.

    hmmm, word of mouth – that gives me an idea too.

  3. Zeezee,

    Thanks for your inputs. Certainly many less oft-used items are bought after much consultation through various sources. My idea is to create something that is largely WOM based which will be (relatively) buzz worthy, differentiated from competing offerings and easy enough to get others to talk about. Still brewing lah….


    I have a gazillion ideas for your optical shop and how blogging can help actually. You can also read Naked Conversations which highlights some examples. One of them is a bespoke Saville Row tailor English Cut at this link:


    Blogging about the art and science of the optical business may help endear you to potential customers. And we do know practically everybody in Singapore is short-sighted!

  4. We know the younger people sms, msn, blog and… more than verbal conversation!

    I am especially interested in the power of blog marketing… so instead of word of mouth, maybe it would be WORD OF BLOG in the not too distant future.

  5. People neglect word of mouth because it is so much easier to simply buy advertising space.

    Word of mouth is hard to influence, unless the product or service itself is very, very good.

    Often it is harder to just work on improving the existing product or service to the point that customers get excited about it. That’s why I think people prefer to take the easier way out and just promote it more.

  6. Van,

    True. The chief problems that many organisations face is not so much lack of awareness than lack of a compelling reason for customers to talk about them. In Singapore, for example, we are guilty of churning out so many “me-too” products and services.

    We lack Purple Cows. After Sim Wong Hoo, we are still looking out for that next big thing. Innovation is hard work, risky and resource intensive, but it can also lead to untold rewards. More of the same isn’t going to cut it in this day and age of consumer clutter.

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