April 19, 2013
Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business.
Gary Vaynerchuk, master marketer and entrepreneur
Even before social media and the Internet were glimmers in Al Gore's eye, "word-of-mouth marketing" was important to brands. That's because people have had conversations about brands since the dawn of time. I still remember, when I worked at a sporting-goods store in high school, my manager telling me that a customer will tell two people about a positive shopping experience but will tell seven people about a bad one. I can't say how valid those numbers are, but the gist rings true: Conversations between consumers about brands are far more influential than any advertisement has been or ever will be.
If you don't believe me, just ask Nielsen. Its 2012 survey of global trust in advertising, which asked consumers what influenced their purchase decisions, found that 92 percent of respondents trust (completely or somewhat) recommendations from people they know. Even if they don't know someone, they still trust that person's opinions more than any other kind of advertising (70 percent trust consumers' opinions posted online). A distant third was editorial content (owned media). So there's no question that while paid, owned and earned media are partly responsible for growing awareness and loyalty, they are no match for the influence of people. [Keep Reading The Week in Venn]