Word-of-mouth marketing online and offline

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We so often get wrapped up THE POWER OF ONLINE, WORD OF MOUTH, CONVERSATIONS and brands being SOCIAL like as if they were radical concepts. Don’t get me wrong but I wanted to cite some real-life examples to demystify the process.

Portumna is the market town close to my Uncle’s farm, there is one town that lies closer but in reality it consists of one pub, a grocer’s shop and a garage with a couple of antique fuel pumps. Portumna sits right by the river Shannon with a sturdy bridge and on the border of three counties, so it has been a point of strategic importance for centuries. Despite the thousands of people who go through on a weekly basis, the shop owners still remember me when I go in as they have known me from when I was knee-high with a full head of blond hair: an example of a life-long conversation and their ‘brands’ demonstrating social attributes.

Under Bridge Spicy Crab restaurant

The second example is a bit closer to home. One of the IT guys at work, Paul, periodically goes to Hong Kong. His desk cabinet is a shrine to the Under Bridge Spicy Crab restaurant in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong. Its a basic Chinese restaurant with a signature dish of chilli crab, a messy, spicy, pungent and extremely delicious meal. The owners don’t have fancy marketing, they just do what they do best: serving spicy crab.  But the restaurant has become world-famous by word-of-mouth from fellow travellers, travel guides and food critics. The last time Paul came back he was a little bit disappointed when he said to me, they are starting to look a bit more professional, all the staff had worn matching Budweiser t-shirts.

Often what I am trying to do when working with, and advising, clients is to ‘bottle the lightning’ that these unremarkable businesses know already. And now and again I like to reflect on these examples as they help put a bit of humility in my game, at a time when digital is widely heralded within the marketing business with almost biblical fervor. Ultimately online facilitates human behaviours that have been common to us for as long as history can remember.