Marketing in entrepreneurial contexts, such as small business, relies heavily on word of mouth (WOM) recommendations for customer acquisition. However, we know little about how WOM processes work for small firms, or how owner-managers can influence them. This case study of an entrepreneurial owner of an independent hotel is used to illustrate the problems associated with WOM, and potential strategies to overcome them. The owner-manager researched existing hotel customers through face-to-face interviews and a questionnaire. The results confirmed the importance of WOM, but found two sets of dissonance. One was between input WOM types and sources, the other between output WOM content and targets. The owner-manager improved the effectiveness of WOM communications through a variety of interventions, thus demonstrating that WOM can be an effective part of a marketing strategy for a small firm.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2002
Keywords: Entrepreneurialism; Small‐ to medium‐sized enterprises; Tourism; Customer satisfaction