Which is better—a website or word-of-mouth?

Which is better—a website or word-of-mouth?

The old adage says that the best marketing is word of mouth. And that is the truth isn’t it? We are much more likely to believe a coworker, friend, or family member over a paid marketing message. Know a good doctor? Any decent vegetarian restaurants around here? What movie should I see? We have been trained to distrust most messages we get via the media. But if we hear something from someone we know, or even just an actual human vs. a machine, we tend to put more value on it.

When people think about their web site you often will hear this comment:

I need a website but, really, my best marketing is word of mouth.

The assumption here is that, though you need a website just to look respectable in today’s world, that in most cases, its Joe telling Mary over the water cooler that is going to get someone to walk in your store, buy your service, or whatever.

The problem with this thinking is that Joe and Mary probably spend a lot more time online than at the water cooler. And  they are probably getting a lot of information online that carry as much weight as a face-to-face conversation, such as:

  • A mention on FaceBook.
  • A comment.
  • A blog article.
  • A Yelp review.
  • A Google search.

All of these, and more, are seen as  an independent voice coming from direct experience, not from a marketing committee or advertising research.

So it isn’t a matter of word-of-mouth vs. websites. Actually, if done correctly, a website is more effective than word of mouth because a website can have a lot more actual word-of-mouth going on than is physically possible by two people talking. Word-of-mouth is what the internet does best. The question to ask yourself is how you can use your website to speak honestly and plainly about the questions that concern you customers or clients. And how to engage your web visitors so they are part of the discussion.

Anything on your mind?