Tuesday, March 14, 2006

WOM and the Consumer:Producer distance question

There was an Inc. article last week, once again re-affirming what we've already, always known: small businesses rely on word-of-mouth, way more than they do advertising. Reading this, I very clearly understood the real charge behind WOM, and it reaches back to something my very first (post-college) boss told me: people buy from people they like.

A pretty simple insight, but clearly its true. Consider a small business like a dry cleaner, or (more importantly) a car repair shop or a hair dresser, where trust is a very important factor in a consumer's decision. In a small business, the distance between the producer and the consumer is pretty slim: the guy repairing your car is often the owner of the garage (it sure is in my case. Portola Auto Repair, run by Paul Giannini).

Big companies, of course, is totally a different story. The producer:consumer distance is great, potentially unknowable. Dry cleaners are dry cleaners, right? Well, so are soft drinks or laptops for that matter (OK, the new Macs excepted). Part of the WOM challenge is making that distance shorter. Or at least making it appear shorter.

That's why corporate blogs are such a good idea. When the CEO or the designer or whoever is actually writing and accepting comments, that distance is shortened. This should be a key part of any WOM strategy: what is the perceived distance between consumer and producer.
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Blogger Intern said...

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10:59 PM  

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