The Power of Word-of-Mouth

This article was originally posted on American Express’ Open Forum and was written by Shira Levine.

Network marketers everywhere know how to harness the power of Word-of-Mouth advertising!


The Power of Word-of-Mouth – And How to Harness It.

June 18, 2010

Word-of-mouth marketing is hands-down the easiest way to promote and market a business.

Simply put, word-of-mouth marketing happens when you have a good product or good service, and your customers tell everyone they know about it. As the word spreads, your customer base grows.

A publicist, marketing team, and media coverage can only go so far; word-of-mouth is what really gives personalized credibility to a business.

So how do you get started? The best tactic to get the word out is to begin with your friends.

That’s precisely what Oscar de la Renta did when he joined forces with PUNTACANA Group, a resort and residential community founded by Dominican businessman Frank Rainieri and New York attorney Theodore Kheel in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic.

After Rainieri approached the famed Dominican-born fashion designer, De La Renta did what anyone would do — he called one of his best friends. In his case, it was singing sensation Julio Iglesias. “I called Julio and told him we finally had the opportunity to be neighbors. He always wanted to live next door to me and this was the time.”

So De La Renta and Iglesias came on board to support the development of The Estates, four residential communities. Shortly after, De La Renta further spread the word of the region by bringing his friend Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov into the mix.
“I invited Misha after he danced at a charity event I had in Santo Domingo,” says De La Renta. “He came to my property in Punta Cana and he instantly fell in love.”

As a result of spreading the word to his friends about his gem, the name Oscar De La Renta has become synonymous with Punta Cana.
It certainly helps to have friends celebrity friends, of course, but you don’t have to be down with the Clintons and other boldfaced names to enjoy the benefits of word-of-mouth.

Here’s how you can make it work for you:
Hone and demonstrate a unique expertise
A business with an expertise in something offers tremendous credibility; being the first and the only helps, too. For example, Rainieri’s PUNTACANA Group was one of the first privately-owned commercial airports, so they know and understand the business from a unique angle. They also feature distinctive characteristics like open-air terminals, where the roofs are covered in palm fronds.

Context and history
Rainieri has been developing PUNTACANA Group since it was first established with Kheel in 1969, and the endeavor took nearly 20 years before it started to make any money. Originally, Punta Cana was a region of thick jungle, without anything that even resembled a road — but Rainieri had a vision and perseverance which, today, adds depth and intrigue to the story of the company’s success. Now, Punta Cana is 26 square miles of developed, low-density real estate. Besides the four residential communities and the international airport, it now has two 18-hole golf courses; the high-end De La Renta-designed Tortuga Bay hotel, the Puntacana Hotel, an ecological reserve, multiple restaurants and a spa. It’s definitely been a long ride for the company! And that story is something that visitors take back with them.

Perseverance, a vision, and a whole lot of energy were a tremendous part of Rainieri’s success, but his constant innovation and forward-thinking are what keeps the business sustainable today. The fact that De La Renta, Iglesias, and Baryshnikov are so invested in the region also means that they want the best for it. Their “green” and environmentally-friendly developments have put the business on the global map. And Rainieri and his small business sees his work as having an impact on his customers.

“We want people who know us to be walking brochures for us when they leave, to spread word of us, word-of-mouth.”