The Power of Word Of Mouth

In 1989 fresh out of university I started a  business with a college buddy.  I remember those early days fondly.  Our business only had a handful of employees.  We worked long hours for very little but we had a great time.  We started out recycling / remanufacturing toner cartridges for laser printers but soon found ourselves selling computer hardware.  Our business grew from 90K in revenue in 1989 to just over 12M in revenue at close of year 1994. We ended up selling our business in 1994 and started all over again in 1995.  We did it again. We built a computer retail business from scratch to just under 15M in revenue by 1999.

I often think back and wonder what could we have done, or not done, in the Social Internet environment of today?  When we started in ‘89 the Internet was just beginning to show it’s potential via newsgroups and bulletin boards (bbs’s for those in the know), we leveraged it to get at the real geeks but only in the most informal of ways.

In the early 90’s everyone felt they needed a computer to “move ahead” or to “make sure their children were not left out” of the coming age of information. The problem was that brand name computers (IBM and Compaq at that time) were out of the price range of most.  Clone computers and computers built from parts were cheaper but the options and configurations were scary for consumers.  People simply didn’t know what to do.   I remember when we sold some of our first computers people would come back and visit and say “what do I do with it now?”  The C:> dos prompt just didn’t do it for them.

We did a couple of things that made us successful.  We installed a software menu with a ton of shareware/freeware  Games, recipes, spreadsheet, word processor, graphics program – some 200 programs in all that we preloaded on every system.  We defined three “packages”, with only a few add on options (printers, mouse, monitor), that would satisfy users. Most importantly we explained why you needed a computer and what it would do for you.

We had a room, maybe 20 X 30, with white boards on three of the four walls.  We had stacks of spec sheets for each of our packages with check boxes for the options.  Customers would come in and we would ask them a few qualifying  questions  and then we would start writing on those white boards explaining the solutions and giving them advice as to what they should purchase.

I remember some days standing  and  talking and writing on the white boards with a couple or a family and by the time I was done presenting I had  an audience of three, four or five groups.  Our little room would be packed like sardines. When the presentation was over one of the groups would place their order and invariably the rest would follow suit.  My business partner and  I would sell 25 systems each at at $3000 dollars a pop every Saturday and week days weren’t too shabby either.

How did that happen.  Was it location? Nope we were impossible to find, hidden away in an industrial area of Saskatoon.  In fact the main reason we hired a receptionist was to answer the phone and give directions. Was it advertising?  Nope. In those early days we didn’t do any. The extent of our advertising was a “highlighted” telephone number in the directory and a small yellow page ad.

Our marketing started as simple, cheap and effective as it gets – word of mouth. We helped people, we became their friends,  and in turn they told their friends.  Even today 20,  years later, walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant, someone will say “Hi Brendan, remember me? I bought my first computer from you.”  Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don’t. One thing I will never forget or underestimate is the power of word of mouth and referrals generated by really helping people and giving them value.

So sometimes I think back, what could we have done given the megaphone of the “social graph”?  How many more people could we have crammed into that little room if people could have used Facebook and Twitter to tell their friends and family?  I know that the opportunity we had selling computers couldn’t co-exist with ubiquitousness of  Facebook and Twitter but it’s fun to think about it.

17 Responses to The Power of Word Of Mouth

  1. Have you read “Word of Mouth Marketing” by Andy Sernovitz? I recommend it if you haven’t.

  2. Brendan King says:

    I thought I had but after looking at Amazon I don’t think I have. Going to Buffalo next week maybe I will pick it up for the plane ride. Thanks Hemant 🙂

  3. Click! says:

    he or she pursues, that teenager will…

    need to write clear, error-free, well-organized business letters, resumes, job applications, memos, accountability reports, and a whole range of other possibilities. good writing skills will make a difference in that young person’s ability to succeed …

    • Moncef says:

      Nothing like playing a VHS tape. I still have some VHS tapes. Not many thguoh sold nearly all of them. Great collection man. Might as well keep VHS. Pawn shops and movie shops give 10-50 cents for VHS. Ebay yeah good idea sell VHS there.You would be surprised at how many ppl still collect VHS.

  4. ) The skin dye type that is similar to Copper Tone tans.

    There are different extreme body exfoliator obtainable
    and a number of them are just like spray tan machines and there’s also a
    spray equipment exists which you’ll want to fix it in your clean upwards
    shower to be able to spray the organic spray tan solution over your own skins external surface to get a bronze shine.
    This can be accomplished with some diligent practice under the supervision of a
    professional expert. Some of the spray tan procedures are not much
    as affected as the expectations are. Be sure to exfoliate prior to applying a
    spray tan product. As a user, you need to evaluate both before making a final choice.
    When starting a business, advertising and promoting is crucial to the
    success of your business. *Refrain from spraying perfumes or deodorants
    directly on the skin. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto a sponge
    or cloth and work it gently into the streaked area.

    Fake Bake Tanning Lotion is the most talked about sunless tanning product.

  5. You will also need to stay away from too much exfoliation after tanning, so you don’t rub off
    the tanned skin. In the 1960s when many people were
    becoming the victims of sunburn and skin cancer for the sake of Suntan, this method became very popular as
    a safe alternative to sunbathing. Most people use fake tanning to get that extra glow on their skin.

  6. Set your price equal to its value an undervalued book will give the impression of inferior quality.

    And the best thing ‘ you will be able to make a decent
    income in a passive way. The second way of getting high paying social media clients is to simply work your local
    businesses and present yourself as the person that will help
    them with their social media marketing for a fee.
    Wendy Suto, President and CEO of Search Circus, specializes in search engine optimization and search engine
    marketing including social media marketing for over
    10 years. Do you want to use social media as a support platform.
    What are the problems that individual has that you can solve.
    I suggest keeping your personal profile and business profile separate, that way you’re weekend BBQ photos aren’t being sent around
    Facebook to your business contacts. Track how much time you spend
    on social networking for a month. You as a marketer need to remember that
    the process of giving and receiving happens only when you begin giving your customers something.

    Notifications are part of your “facebook email system.

  7. After fetching the results, you would get so many servicers
    in your city. This really is clearly observed in the case associated with blockage of
    drainage water lines and sinks and also the muddle that
    happens due to this case. With the economy in the shape that it is, everyone wants to save
    their money.

  8. Sensors in doctor’s surgical gloves can help prevent accidents
    or assist a surgical procedure. When you get in touch with them,
    they will want to understand what size panel (wattage) you have and what the voltage is.
    Most of the email questions I sent to online battery shops netted me sales pitch
    calls and emails.

  9. tan says:

    Wanting to show some skin and amaze an audience but unable to do so because
    of your pale skin. To start with, one should test out this
    product by making use of the item with a small portion of your skin and observe for reactions.
    Acting as a tan accelerator these lotions are
    great for achieving the perfect tan.

  10. Tom Ford becomes creative manager of Gucci during 1994 and he brings a sense of daring and
    provocation into the brand that resonates with celebrity and accomplished elite.
    It allows you to wear spring’s hottest color trend
    to remain fashionably current but will also maintain your professional appearance at work.

    It could possibly be employed generally because of development
    kind as well as excellent best quality.

  11. h – CG also resets metabolism rates and protects the healthy fat which cushions the organs and other tissues.
    But before you buy HCG drops you should know how they work.

    Having a demanding work schedule, you need to look for ways in losing weight without having to sacrifice your job.

  12. street art says:

    (Your ego, after all, is the opponent I really want you to defeat.
    One of the things that mwke Banksy the most celebrated street artist in London is that he displays his street art in places that are accessible
    bby all. Find a decorative shape on a Christmas card thjat you like.

  13. Relating to the nights typically the vernal equinox,Cheap Jordans free airline Wing office staff and also American president can be involved
    in a house game associated with on-line poker, nevertheless retain buying abandoned by many different
    downturn. Albert Watson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland,
    and he quickly established himself as a leading fashion photographer.

    Many people are interested in knowing these and thus,
    if one is looking to start a fashion website, all they have to
    do is to include this aspect to their portal along with pictures
    as well.

  14. The Acai and Maqui berries are the most powerful antioxidants
    known to man. Adding fruits and vegetables to your meals can help you shed pounds.

    Exploring high and very low for pores and skin care products which give you youthful and nutritious skin and just take several years off your daily life.

  15. hack somesones snapchat

    The Power of Word Of Mouth | Brendan’s Blog

  16. Then browse the web and search out sites the place your children can play the quite finest Barbie Dress Up Games for her.
    You are able to go onto the map and highlight where you want your heroes to go to hunt
    along with kill monsters. First, you can earn in-game content and rewards gradually
    through investment of your time and work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: