Word of Mouth Advertising: A True Story

Several weeks ago, I returned from a freelance writing assignment to find the skylight in my living room filled with a swarm of winged insects.

I was, of course, horrified, and immediately thought of termites busily eating my home.  Or, maybe it’s just a re-infestation of the moths that had invaded my pantry last year, invading wide selection of grocery items.  Unsure of what else to do, I called and scheduled a visit from Solo Termite.

When I had the original problem with the moths, I bought a can of cinnamon spray, safe for people and pets.  With nothing to lose, I shot a stream of the fragrant spray into the skylight.  Whatever the flying insects were, the cinnamon spray killed them immediately.

I dutifully collected several of the fallen corpses so that Wes, the technician from Solo Termite, could take a look when he arrived.  During the coming week, I kept a careful eye out for more of the pests.

The evening of the swarm, I attended a business event and was telling the story of my buggy horror to several friends.  We discussed whether these could be termites.  Someone commented that if termites were easily killed with cinnamon spray, why do we all spend considerable sums to prevent them from chewing our houses down around our ears?

When Wes arrived to evaluate the bugs and do a treatment, I described the incident and gave him the sample insect.

Yes, he told me excitedly, these are termites.  They are a variety know as dry wood termites that hang out in ceilings and attic spaces.  I took him inside the house so I could point out where the swarm originated, and he found the hole they had created to enter the house.  This is the best-case scenario.  The entry point was really obvious, and easily reached.  All that’s required in this case is a quick application of the permanent termite treatment.  If the entry point can’t be found, then tenting the entire house is sometimes needed.

I posed the question about why we all invest heavily in termite programs if a few squirts of a nontoxic spray will kill them.  Wes smiled.  Then he explained the truth about termite eradication.  It seems the termites we see are easy to kill.  Spraying water on them can kill them.  But the ones we see are the workers.

The reason we need Solo Termite or a similar service is to attack the source – the Queen.  She is very hard to kill and stays hidden in the ground or the beams of the ceiling, laying 20,000 or so eggs at a time.  The most effective termite treatment is carried back to the colony to kill the hidden termites.

This is an outstanding example of powerful word of mouth advertising.  Wes was really just doing his job, but he did it in a way that caused me to share about it.  His enthusiasm for his craft is infectious.  Throughout the visit, which only took a few minutes, he was engaged in educating me, his customer, about termites, what my situation was, applying the needed treatment and explaining what to look for in the coming days.

I enjoyed the conversation, felt a sense of relief that the problem had been resolved, and have related the story to several people.  Solo Termite has earned word of mouth advertising.

Every business owner wants to create word of mouth advertising.  Doing so is both an art and a science.  In the case of Solo, a technician who really enjoys what he does and helps customers understand why the service is necessary is their best advertisement.  Imagine the same situation, but instead of enthusiastically answering my questions and explaining all about termite habits, he had given perfunctory answers, done the job basic job and left.  I would not be talking, or writing about the incident.

What inspires you to tell the story of an experience you had with a business?


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