Every industry has an infrastructure, though it takes a somewhat different form in each case. The infrastructure includes all those people between the supplier and the customer who have an influence on the buying process. These people give credibility to products and organizations. Without the support of the infrastructure, a product, service, or company is sure to fail.
Word-of-mouth communication is a requirement for sustained success in rapidly changing industries with complex products. In these industries there is so much going on that it is difficult for even knowledgeable people to sort out all the details. To understand the significance of new developments, people rely on what they hear from the infrastructure.
Each part of the infrastructure validates the others and helps to build credibility for the product and the company. However, if a company is missing any level of the infrastructure, the pyramid concept can fail and market support for your product doesn’t develop.
Each industry has structured relationships that make that industry’s market tick. Successful companies work at identifying and lining up the key members of the infrastructure—and keeping track of how the infrastructure is changing. Managers must pay attention to the hierarchies of influence existing within the infrastructure. The important thing to remember is that your customer will judge you by the company you keep.
When a company enables positive word-of-mouth communication, it gives its product a big advantage over all others. The product can even be a success before it reaches the market.
Word-of-mouth communication is essential in developing industry leadership, customer loyalty, and rapid acceptance of new products and services. Building strong and lasting relationships is hard work and difficult to sustain. But in a world where the customer has so many options, even in narrow product-market segments, a personal relationship is the only way to retain customer loyalty.
In fast-changing industries these relationships are becoming more important than ever before. As technologies advance and become intertwined with one another, no single company has the full range of skills and expertise needed to bring products and solutions to market in a timely and cost- effective way.