Whose opinion do you trust when making choices about the important things in life? According to the recently released Chatter Matters report, word of mouth from friends is 331% more likely to be relied upon than advertising when making decisions about planning a wedding.
That’s a remarkable statistic, but if we reflect on the way most of us personally go about making such decisions, it almost always comes back to personal experience. If we have not had that personal experience, then we almost always turn to family or friends who have. The survey from which this statistic is taken found, more generally, recommendations from friends are valued 27% more than advertising when making a substantial purchase.
With big, important decisions about events like weddings, we generally require a higher standard of proof to persuade us than for more run-of-the-mill purchases. It’s not only that we will be forking out a lot of money on something like a wedding, but there’s also a significant degree of emotional investment involved too.
When we’re invested emotionally in a purchase, we tend to seek out opinions from friends and family as verification for our feelings and judgements. We place a higher premium on the opinions of friends and family because we trust them to have our best interests at heart. We can also trust them to gauge whether something might be right for us because they know our personality and preferences. We also know their personality and preferences, which means we can cross-check against their biases.
As an example, you might have seen a very impressive ad for a wedding venue you’re thinking about hiring. The venue has good social proof through online reviews, customer testimonials, and favourable comments left on their Facebook page.
You mention the venue to a good friend, who says she has been there for a wedding, and while it’s stunning, she found the venue a little stiff. She suggests another venue she has attended, which has comparable reviews and feedback. ‘I think it’s more you,’ she says.
You check out both places. Both beautiful. However, your friend is right. One is a little too formal, not in tune with you or what you want for a wedding; the other is more laidback, more what you’re after.
You most likely would’ve come to the same conclusion without your friend’s input, but your friend’s opinion is the social verification that cements your thinking. It’s the very real and substantive counterweight to the ad, the social media comments, and the fancy YouTube video that almost had you ready to book the first venue.
Personal word of mouth resonates more than advertising or almost any other source of information does — it connects at the level of lived experience.
As the report says: “These findings make us question why most companies selling expensive goods and services do not possess a sound, repeatable word-of-mouth strategy. It would provide customers with a consistent story to pass along to the next group of potential customers.”
This is why word-of-mouth marketing is so important (especially for wedding planners), and why your business needs a plan in place to cultivate your word of mouth.