The concept of “word of mouth” (or WOM), the simple act of one person sharing something with others, has been around since the dawn of business. Word of mouth marketing is an attempt to influence and encourage this phenomenon, getting consumers to talk about a brand and recommend it to their friends.
Studies have found that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends over any form of advertising, so it’s not surprising that many businesses put great effort into word of mouth marketing.
The advent of social media that allows a single person to share information to potentially millions of people. Thus, the possible rewards of a word of mouth marketing effort are in many cases astronomical. Having a marketing message “go viral” has, in fact, become the holy grail of marketing.
How it works
There are many ways to get consumers talking about a brand. Generally in word of mouth marketing terms, there are direct and indirect approaches.
A direct approach is a “hands-on” attempt to spread the word about a brand, focusing on retaining control of the actual message. An example would be hiring people to join online forums to talk about the brand in a positive light. This can be very effective when successful, especially for a new business that has very little brand recognition.
Another direct approach strategy is a referral program that rewards consumers for recommending the company’s products and services to their friends.
The other, indirect approach is very common these days. A quick visit to YouTube is all it takes to see this approach in action – fun or controversial videos can be a great vehicle to get consumers talking about a brand. However, generally, an indirect approach leaves the brand with very little control over what consumers are actually saying.
What are the advantages of focusing on word of mouth marketing?
The main advantage of word of mouth marketing is obvious: a brand that can harness its power successfully will enjoy a steady stream of new customers simply through referrals from their friends. Since these customers are somewhat pre-qualified (they already trust and like the brand), they’ll also be easier to sell to in many cases.
Incorporate word of mouth marketing into your social media, email and mobile marketing efforts
We can expect word of mouth marketing to keep increasing in popularity in the coming years, as it’s a way for brands to break through the noise and reach consumers in a non-intrusive way. As consumers get increasingly blind to regular advertising, directing effort towards word of mouth marketing may be the smartest strategy for a brand to focus on.
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