Word of mouth and the "eraser"

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It has been said many times that the best form of advertising is word of mouth. We all know what that is. You do a job for one person and then they tell their friends about you and the friends hire you to do their job too.

This is a pretty simple concept on the surface. But there are all manner of subtleties involved. A lot can depend on the status of the original client within his or her social network. If the person is someone who others look to for guidance in the areas of design or home décor, their word may carry much more weight.

But the one thing that is carved in stone about word of mouth is that their can be no "erasers." A verbal eraser is just like the one on the end of your pencil (assuming that you have not chewed it off!). You use it to erase lines you have drawn or words you have written. A verbal eraser erases words that have been spoken. Verbal erasers are words like but (the most common one), however, unfortunately, etc. There are also "eraser phrases" like "the thing is" or "there was just one thing" or "the only problem was".

What happens is that the listener tends to forget everything that follows the eraser. Even if they don't actually forget, whatever follows the eraser carries at least ten times the weight of whatever preceded it. So in order for word of mouth to really be effective, you have to make sure that you don't leave your customers with any erasers. You don't want them saying, "This guy was great and his work was the best we have ever seen. His price was not the lowest (still no eraser there) but the quality of the work was superb," only to follow it with, "There was just one thing and that was that he didn't get the job delivered on time," or "Unfortunately, when we needed a follow up to replace a broken drawer glide he did not respond very quickly.”

It really doesn't matter how insignificant the issue that follows the eraser is. It will still work as an eraser. So if you are going to depend on word of mouth advertising, you have to make absolutely sure that you don't leave the customer with any reason to use an eraser when telling their friends about you.

D.D.

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