Word-of-Mouth Marketing vs Advertising

Word-of-Mouth Marketing vs Advertising by Mark Bullock

{3:15 minutes to read} At Practice Marketing, Inc., we feel that word-of-mouth marketing yields more long-term and higher quality results than advertising does.

This is because there’s an implied trust that comes with word-of-mouth marketing, especially if you’re reinforcing it with educational and informational content in the form of blog posts, newsletters, articles, and social media participation. All of those things lend credibility and expert status into the branding of you and your firm.

About a year ago, one of our clients took out an advertisement in an industry publication—a popular website—that reached many of the firm’s potential clients. The advertisement was targeted and relatively inexpensive, and it did result in a handful of new clients initially. Now, it’s been 6 months since the last lead from that advertisement. This is not atypical of traditional advertising.

Another of our clients, who was already well established in their industry and for years had done very well with solid word-of-mouth marketing, blogging, sending newsletters, participating religiously in social media, etc., decided to place a radio ad. They, too, saw an initial flush of new inquiries. However, the qualifications of these new prospects were lower than what the firm typically saw with clients who came to them via word-of-mouth and referral efforts.

The radio ad ran for 6 months. Toward the end of that time, the number of new inquiries waned. Overall, the amount of money and time invested in the ad is probably about even with the revenue received as a direct result of it. Unfortunately, though, in the professional services industry, a dollar-for-dollar trade is actually a loss.

In this case, the firm might likely see residual effects from the ad, even now that it’s no longer on the radio. They were launching a second location, so the ad was well-timed. But it’s hard to say how much the ad helped in comparison to leveraging the firm’s existing brand value in the community. Would it have been sufficient to make announcements through their blog, newsletter, social media, and the like? The jury’s still out.

One thing we do know: advertising is advertising. There is a lot of competition and significant cost involved, and there is no guarantee of return—even in the short term, never mind the long term. There are some situations in which advertising can be useful, namely, when a firm is:

  • Trying to grow rapidly;
  • Running a promotion; or
  • Cracking into a new market.

They might then consider some form of advertising, but generally advertising should always be a supplement to your existing word-of-mouth marketing efforts, never in place of them.

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Mark Bullock
Telephone: (631) 754-0800
Email: Mark@phoneBlogger.net



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2 Responses to Word-of-Mouth Marketing vs Advertising

  • avatar
    Tom Langdon-Davies says:

    Spot on, Mark. People buy people first, enrolment before registration!

  • avatar
    Daniel Burns says:

    Marketing takes time and advertising takes money. The real difference is in the quality of the leads. Clients that are looking for a professional service via advertising are usually less qualified than those who look for those services based on word of mouth referral.

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