The Power of Word of Mouth


I love shopping for coffee at Trader Joe’s.  The coffee comes in cylinder tins with colorful, creative labels.  Trader Joe’s offers many varieties – from dark to light roast – from regions across the world- from South America to Africa.  It’s fun to experiment brewing the different kinds of coffee.  I’ve been doing this for years, so I’ve got my favorites.

Good to the last organic drop.

Good to the last organic drop.

Lately, I’ve been on a Cafe Femenino kick.  Cafe Femenino is an organic, shade grown coffee from Peru that just loves being brewed in my coffee maker.  So I buy it a lot.  Recently, I was at my local Trader Joe’s perusing the coffee rack when I notice a guy about my age doing the same.  He looked puzzled (he even scratched his head).  I didn’t pay much attention, but reached for the tin of Cafe Femenino and dropped it in my cart.

As I was moving off to buy milk, the guy tapped me on the shoulder.  “Excuse me,” he said.  “Can I ask you a question?”

I smiled.  “Of course.”

“Why did you pick that coffee?”

So without even thinking I went on a rant about how much I love Cafe Femenino.  I told him how I’ve been drinking Trader Joe’s coffee for years and kept returning to Cafe Femenino.  I raved about the taste and the smell.  Blah, blah, blah.  You get the picture.  When I was finished he nodded and grabbed two tins of the Cafe Femenino.

“You convinced me,” he said.  “Thanks!”

It wasn’t until later that I realize what had happened: The power of word of mouth marketing.  Because of the confident manner in which I selected my coffee at Trader Joe’s, the perplexed guy next to me instantly transferred the label of “expert” to me.  It didn’t matter if it was true.  He was confused and saaw that I wasn’t.  Bang! Expert!

This “expert” impression was reinforced by my empassioned speech in favor of Cafe Femenino.  Besides, the guy didn’t have an opinion himself – so why not borrow mine?

Quite frankly, I could have sold the guy any brand of the coffee the moment he tapped me on the shoulder.

Now think about the power of “word of mouth” transferred to the web.  What if I blogged about my passion for Cafe Femenino (which now that I think about it – I’m doing right now!)?  My passion for the coffee will be read by my readers and indexed by search engines.  Now anyone looking for suggestions on Trader Joe’s coffees can end up reading my post.

But then what if I Twitter about the coffee post on my blog?  And add it to my status or links on Facebook?  What if it gets picked up by other bloggers?  Or is submitted to a social bookmarking sites like Digg.com or Del.icio.us?  Now the audience for the post on Cafe Femenino grows exponentially.  There’s a chance that instead of hundreds – thousands of people will read it.

Trader Joe’s is going to mighty happy.

Especially if one of those thousands who stumbles upon it is the food editor of the New York Times and the post convinces them to write a feature story on grocery store coffee.  Or maybe it is a producer at “The Today Show” reads it and decides to do a segment on different organic coffees.

This is the enormous potential of word of mouth – when you put in on the web.

Do you have stories about convincing friends, family or complete strangers to try a product you love?  Care to share?

One Response to “The Power of Word of Mouth”

  1. I’ve had similar experiences, though both with beer. I’ve posted something similar here: http://subjectivelyspeaking.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/tastes-great-more-filling/

    A more recent example was almost this exact same scenario, but in the same beer store I mention in the post above, but with beer. A fellow shopper was contemplating a selection. He was looking over a particular beer I’ve had before. I looked over at him, and you could tell he was in that, “Gee, I just don’t know” mode. “What if it’s terrible?” So, without being prompted, I mentioned the name of the beer out loud, and he looked at me. “Have you had it?” I replied that I had, and then gave him a 15-second review. After I finished talking, he put a siz-pack in his cart and said, “Thanks! I appreciate the help!”

    Word of mouth is king.

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