Any type of business needs some kind of marketing strategy. It does not matter whether you manufacture toys or sell some kind of service, without getting the word out there, you can never expect people to use your business. The big question for any business, from service based niches such as those offering painting instruction to product based lines has always been how effective certain types of marketing can be.
The reason for this, of course, is that most types of marketing really cut into the overhead of any business. Traditional media advertisements in particular are very pricey. Ask any real estate broker for their overhead costs; we guarantee that the price they pay to advertise the average home for sale will shock you.
The problem with most types of marketing has always been that it is hard to determine the overall effectiveness of the efforts. This means that businesses may engage in high cost activities without any real idea of the returns on that investment.
There are some types of marketing that have been quantified in terms of effectiveness, however, and are inexpensive to cheap for any business as well. We are talking about the customer review, a marketing method which has received even more support since companies began to take their business onto the World Wide Web.
Surveys and studies have always supported the statement that reviews by customers are the most effective way to bring in business anywhere, and also predispose the consumer viewing them towards a purchase. For example, many companies traditionally ask customers to fill out surveys indicating how they heard about the product or service just purchased. The overwhelming answer in all cases is through word of mouth, a form of consumer review.
Those numbers are only confirmed by research into the effectiveness of online reviews. A 2007 survey performed by the BIAKelsey Group stated that in every niche, customers were likely to have had their influence to purchase impacted by reviews they had read placed by former buyers. It didn't matter whether they were looking for a condo in New York City or a lawyer for a divorce; anywhere from 75-90% of those surveyed said that reading a review significantly influenced their purchase.
Just why are customer reviews so successful? The main theory is that people are more likely to trust the word of those they consider their peers over anything else. It doesn't matter if a company has a recognized brand, certified by a trademark office. (feel free to visit Shlaw.ca for a trademark agent). Company generated statistics have some impact, but are still seen as biased. Reviews, on the other hand, are seen as impartial information given by the average person, and therefore more reliable.
Moreover, some reviews generate higher levels of trust than others. A video or audio review endorsing a product, for example, will have a higher impact on a viewer than traditional text reviews. Again, market researchers hypothesize that trust may be enhanced by the physical presence of a peer in those scenarios.
The effectiveness of customer reviews in marketing a business is definitely backed up by some powerful numbers. Surveys suggest that reviews are the number one marketing tool as far as establishing customer trust in every single sector.