My answer to many questions over the past 10 years has been:

“Have you Googled it?”

Such was my love for the search engine that I even suggested at one point (albeit after a few glasses of wine) that if I were ever to have another child I would name it “Google Fish” – thankfully for him/her, I sobered up and decided that my family was complete.

My love is, however, slowly starting to fade… it just seems that Google and search engines in general aren’t always the easiest and most direct source of answers these days – particularly if I’m trying to find a service that I can trust. There’s just too much choice!

The online world is becoming so overcrowded. Everyone is competing for the top spot, and finding genuine content for the service you need seems to take so much longer than it used to. Basically, I just feel that I trust it less.

It seems that many businesses think simply getting a website and promoting the hell out of it is the simple route to winning business – and I’m sure that for many that is a good enough strategy, but for me, as a consumer and a marketer, it just doesn’t seem enough.

So, I’m heading back to basics in 2016 – and recently I’ve been having lots of conversations with our customers about doing the same.

Remember the days when we relied on our current customers to recommend us? Remember how we talked about retention being the golden goose for a successful year in business? The mantra that customer retention is critical and acquisition is desirable? Well, I think that a lot of businesses have forgotten about this and have relied too heavily on SEO, PPC and social media conversation to do the job for them.

I believe strongly that the power of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) marketing and referral-based acquisition, is the new (old) way to win business.

Yes, I acknowledge that WOM is tougher to build and easier to destroy. It carries more risk and can be damaged more easily if you get it wrong. Your brand values and position must be clearly defined and upheld at all times. You must maintain your reputation, whomever you are selling to, because people have this naughty habit of talking to each other… and bad news always seems to spread faster than good.

Online is critical.

I’d be daft to think it wasn’t… but for me, there’s a real future in good old-fashioned Word of Mouth!