Making Consumers Talk

Last month my friend’s car broke down… again. Sarah didn’t want to spend any more money fixing it… again. It had too many miles, and it was costing her a lot to keep it on the road. Plus, she wanted a car that was more reliable and got better gas mileage. She had been sort of thinking about a new car for quite a while, so she had done a little research online. Now that it was decision time, Sarah did something that many of us do… she phoned a friend. She called me.

A few years ago I purchased a hybrid car. Hybrids had been on the road for a few years, but they were still a new phenomenon. Before buying it I was skeptical about the ROI for the hybrid’s extra cost versus the higher miles per gallon. I did a lot of research, and eventually took a leap of faith. For the first several months, I was doubtful that I made the right decision. Luckily I have been very happy with the car.

This looks like my car, but it's not. The photo came from CarMax.com. Sarah didn't get her car at CarMax, but she should have.

This looks like my car, but it's not. The photo came from CarMax.com. Sarah didn't get her car at CarMax, but she should have.

Now Sarah knew that I drove a hybrid, and she wanted to know how I liked it, how many miles per gallon I got, did it have plenty of power, and all of that. She knows I’m not a motor head (I don’t even rotate my own tires), and I’m not an engineer. I’m sure she knew that I couldn’t give her any real specifics about the car, its engine, the interior space, or the number of horsepower. But she called me anyway. And I influenced her car-purchase decision more than any of her research, more than any of the ads, and more than the salesperson’s pitch.

What if companies could get consumers (like me) to talk to potential consumers (like Sarah) about the company’s products?  It’s called word of mouth marketing, and it’s not new. But more and more companies are doing it more and more, and they’re doing it in more and more interesting ways.

What are some interesting word of mouth marketing ideas that you’ve seen?

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