The power of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) is no stranger to the world of marketing. After all, peers with sincere opinions and no agenda have always been held in high regard when it comes to making decisions about brands. Therefore, given today’s explosive nature of social sharing, it comes as no surprise that effective WOM Marketing strategies are in high demand. The problem, however, is that much is misunderstood about turning a naturally occurring process into a plan of action.
As usual, many of our holdups are rooted in old thought processes. In this piece, I’ll attempt to help clear the smoke by highlighting three common misconceptions.
WOM is Market-y
First of all, WOM Marketing isn’t meant to be market-y in the traditional sense, and marketers who treat it like typical marketing won’t see the results they’re looking for. In fact, these are absolutely opposing approaches, and the rise of social media and brand advocates will continue to make gimmicks even less relevant/engaging with time.
The key to WOM is to create opportunities for consumers, or brand advocates, to share about a brand’s products and services across all touch points, so they can share when and where they are inspired. This could be the brand’s website, Twitter page, Facebook page or even a forum. By creating a convenient environment for them, consumers will be more willing to spread WOM about a brand, and if given easy-to-use tools to amplify those messages, brands can see an increase in reach and awareness.
Bottom line: your customers are smart. Treat them accordingly
WOM is Reserved for Revolutionary Products
While having a bang-up product or service certainly helps things along, it’s not a requirement for effective WOM.
“Word of mouth is not reserved for revolutionary products.” claimed the Keller Fay Group after releasing a WOM report titled “TheSteakistheSizzle.” “Rather it can also be harnessed by marketers in many categories and at various stages of the product lifecycle.”
An example of a brand that uses WOM to increase awareness and sales is Roku, a leading provider of streaming entertainment devices. Roku knew it had a passionate base of customer advocates: 25% of its customers indicated that they bought a Roku player based on a referral from family or friends. Wanting to tap into and amplify this WOM, the company launched a social referral program to reward sharing. In the first six months of the program, Roku increased its customer-based referrals by 30% and drove $250,000 in revenue – just by giving customers a reason to spread the word.
Bottom line: The real key to success here is answering a question. No matter what you’ve got to offer, people will talk about it if it fills a real need.
WOM is a Replacement Strategy
While WOM marketing is certainly in the throes of a revolutionary breakthrough, it wouldn’t be wise to shift focus solely to what consumers are saying about you or your brand. Russell Sparkman of FusionSpark came up with an analogy that I particularly like at last year’s Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s conference (WOMMA): content and WOM are like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Bottom line: WOM is highly complementary. If harnessed correctly, it can carry your messaging far beyond your immediate audience.
It Ain’t Easy Being WOM
Finally, it’s crucial to note that WOM doesn’t catch overnight. It is, at its heart, a process that is inherent to people — not business. And that means it’s going to take some time to work its way into your messaging. So long as you fulfill a need and don’t try to force opinions, today’s modern vehicles of conversation will assuredly carry advocate-based appreciation far and wide.
That said, it is also important to note that WOM is also inescapable. It absolutely thrives online. People are going to talk whether or not you want them to, and that makes a proper mindset as well as tools that inspire positive conversation absolutely crucial at this time.