This is a sort of two-part article following from a recent general discussion about advocacy marketing. If you haven’t read the previous one (and you are not familiar with the notion of advocacy), then you may want to take a quick look at it.
One of the points that really does bear some expansion is the subject of why word of mouth works and why it is so powerful. I am sure we are all aware that the WoM recommendation carries a lot of weight, but how that translates into awareness is worth considering.
Firstly, let’s remember that just sending out a promise of quality is not really enough. It’s the equivalent of setting up a stall in a market full of other vendors with the same products, and then yelling about how great you are whilst everyone else in the market is doing exactly the same thing. A general email or a few tweets are unlikely to work because the noise surrounding them is too loud, and the frequency of similar messages is too high. You need a stronger, more considered, more focused, and more personalised approach if you are to be heard above the noise.
If you are a business with a good product or service, then you will almost certainly have happy customers who are willing to advocate you product. People love to share good and bad things, and the Internet has given everyone a voice. Social media, in particular, has become a very effective method of WoM awareness, but it’s often seen in the wrong light. When you are engaging with people on social media, it is vital that you actually engage. Selling is just broadcasting your wares, (we are back in the market again) but good, engaging content is about emotion.
The funny tweet, the engaging video on Facebook, or the genuinely useful YouTube videos that will sell your brand beautifully without any need to push. In amongst these, you drop in a testimonial or a thank you from a satisfied client. And people will want to have a social response to your social activity, so don’t just sell at them.
Testimonials are a must, because statistically more people will trust a recommendation from a friend or trusted colleague over any other source. Trust is not easily earned, especially from the viewpoint of a new customer, and so seeing it in the form of a testimonial will greatly contribute to its improvement.
Whatever the method used, it is important to stay relevant, related and current. Not everything you use to reach out to customers needs to be directly about you. If there is a big sporting event, for example, then tailor your content to encompass it. If you have sponsored someone in the office to climb Kilimanjaro backwards dressed as a bear, then that is probably something that needs to be included in your word of mouth marketing.
The reason videos of kittens singing get so many views on the Internet is because people enjoy both sharing and watching them. When you are looking to really utilise word of mouth marketing you need to be a part of the sharing, and that means reaching out to people in the right way.