The Grapevine Can Take a Toll on Your Business

Like all things, there are always two sides to a coin.  In advertising, especially word-of-mouth advertising, the same principles apply: when it’s good, you get new customers without virtually spending any extra advertising dollars but when it’s bad, it can be deadly.  Below is a comparative narration of contrasting experiences shared by a well-followed blogger of two international airports she has experienced.

Upon arriving at this international airport in London, the writer’s family of three was greeted by a surly, edgy airport staff who refused to make eye contact with any of them.   After passing immigration and passport controls, husband and wife eventually reunited only to confirm that they have both indeed been treated rudely and the experience, utterly horrible.

Imagine finally getting passed the queue only to be thrown with something like “Why does your daughter have a different last name?” while your daughter, a baby in your arms with searching eyes darting from yours to the passport officer’s face, looked on.  For the first time, the blogger admits she was made to feel ashamed to say “Her father and I are not married.”  Imagine that.  Granted that nowadays most would agree that different surnames are a social norm and won’t really merit a second look but in the judgmental eyes of a staff in this particular London airport, they simply read: kidnapper.

The experience at the destination airport could not have provided a more glaring difference.

“How was your trip?  Did (glancing at passport) Amy get some sleep?” asked the airport officer at the welcome immigrations at Sydney Airport.  An immediate and welcome delight to any weary traveler’s senses!  Even at the baggage control, the customs official went out of his way to approach the family, invite them to join a fast track lane and left them with “You don’t want to be hanging around here any longer than necessary, do you?”   After thirty hours of travelling, this customs official is a gift from the traveling gods.

Between the two international airports, the winner, hands down, is Sydney.

In preparation for the Sydney 2000, the city has taken its role as Olympic host so seriously that the “airport experience” for visitors was given a lot of focus then and obviously, travelers to the city today are still enjoying the immense benefits the culture inculcated brings.

This was a simple experience by a young family of three. Imagine the next few weeks when that family starts sharing their experiences to friends and family.   Multiply that pass-on message to thousands who follow the writer’s blog once she posts this entry: Encouragingly delightful for Sydney, damage control nightmare for London.

Word-of-mouth advertising may be free but it is one of the strongest and most persuasive means to bring the message of your product or service to your target market.   To earn it and harness its positive power, one does not have to be chummy with clients but definitely, one must not resort to rudeness.  Show respect and give your clients a pleasurable experience in patronizing you.  That way, they will recommend you to their friends in a positive light, sing praises even, and in the end, you win not only their repeat businesses, but their friends’ as well.

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