How do you stop a ripple?
This post is about unstoppable power of word of mouth. Once it’s started, the ripple effect takes over. If the word of mouth is interesting to enough people, you can’t help hearing about it – even when you might not want to. Read on to find out why a ripple is better than a splash and get a top tip for turning the tide in your favour.
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Do you need to make a splash to start a ripple?
A teacher recently told me about networking worked from a consumer perspective. We got talking about the dictionary term of networking – “to form business contacts through informal social meetings”. He had never networked as far as he was concerned. He found that the dictionary was far removed from the description of networking events he had heard about. I reassured him that not all networking events were the same, not everyone splashes you with their sales pitch.
He was trying to tell me of the effect word of mouth had on him, so I asked him to explain. He recently had a toothache and told his Mum that he was going to visit the dentist in the centre of Town. His Mum told him he should go the dentist “up on the Hill”. His toothache subsided and a similar conversation with his neighbour ended similarly.The dentist has helped his neighbour’s wife. Later that day a telephone conversation with a friend ended the same way. “They must be really good with toothache” he thought to himself. And now he really needed someone that was really good with toothache. I told him that this was a networking result, some people network effectively within their existing network.
How do ripples start? And are they always a good thing?
It can start with great service and a ripple can be measured if he asks his new clients where they found out about him. Are they always good? Recent events have proved otherwise. Perhaps the dentist “in town” had suffered a ‘Murdoch’. Maybe he hadn’t started any ripples by offering a standard service? In either case, a different sort of ripple starts, the tide turns. You can start ripples easily enough yet stopping them takes some doing – no matter how big or small your organisation may be.
No-one had mentioned any other dentist, just the dentist on the Hill. They were clearly the go-to person for the local community. This dentist is so good his clients happily told others about it with no incentive other than to help someone else. I explained to Mr Arscott that networking results were about word of mouth reaching the right people at the right time rather than pitching at business networking events. Whenever a dental problem is mentioned he gets a mention. The ripples have a life of their own. I’m going to name this sort of ripple an Arscott. It’s a really helpful ripple.
Why is word of mouth so powerful?
When I asked which dentist he plumped for, Mr Arscott told me he had made the effort to go up the Hill and was pleased with the treatment he received. Now he was telling me and I’m telling you, the ripples continue. When I enquired about his reasoning he thought for a moment.
Then he announced that one of the reasons was to avoid looking stupid! I asked how he had come to that conclusion. He explained that he would have looked an idiot if he had not taken the advice, gone elsewhere and still had a toothache. He just knew that the people he had chatted to were bound to ask how his tooth was when they bumped into him again. When he does, the ripples will continue.
Wrap up: Are personal brands grown this way? Who is telling people about you? When you generate word of mouth you’re helping people make good decisions about their needs. They will thank you if you help their contacts and they can share your story with others. I had a ripple that crossed the Atlantic. If you have a story about a ripple, let us know in the comments section below. Go on, start a ripple.
Top Tip: Work out who you have delighted recently or who has delighted you. Could you start a ripple? Are you on twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or other places where word of mouth goes viral? The ripples and waves of public opinion are happening daily. You can ride the waves if you let your network know what you can really do for them. Don’t forget to kelp them first!
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