Word of Mouth Marketing. What is it? And how valuable is it to a business or brand in broadcasting a message?
WOMMAUK (Word of Mouth Marketing Association UK) says that, “Word of mouth (WOM) is the most effective form of marketing in existence as it combines the newest strategies, tactics, and channels with the most basic human behaviour…”
In it’s most basic form Word of Mouth Marketing is fairly self explanatory. Consumers spread word of a brand or product that they’ve had a positive experience with to their friends. This is free advertising for companies and is one of the most sincere forms of recommendation. There’s been no payment received in order to endorse the product, and the recommendation is based on end-user experience.
Word of Mouth Marketing is becoming more and more prominent and effective with the growing influence of Web 2.0 and social media. People’s connections are becoming more vast and their sphere of influence is growing.
It is therefore becoming more important that businesses and brands prioritise the use of Word of Mouth Marketing. They need to give people a reason to talk and create natural conversation that helps promote what ever it is their selling. Their marketing practices need to become more unique so that they stand out from the competition and also create a buzz surrounding their product.
Of course not all products will be suitable for Word of Mouth Marketing. A particularly niche or complex product may not be properly explained during a recommendation, which may do the product a disservice.
If the power of Word of Mouth Marketing can be harnessed well enough, then a campaign or ad could very easily go viral. It is so simple to share thoughts and bits of media today that if the buzz is big enough, then an idea can go viral within a matter of hours.
Buzz can be generated from the off for certain products. Teasers building up to a release generate huge amounts of buzz now that everyone is connected via social networks. A recent example would be Rockstar’s ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ which had a teaser for it’s teaser. The company posted a teaser on it’s site for the début of it’s first trailer, a week before it was released. The buzz surrounding it was huge and the trailer still fuels speculation about the game.
The notion of spreading the word of a product through positive experiences and recommendations is all well and good, but there is also the risk of a negative backlash. We know how easy it is to spread a good review of something, but what about when a consumer is less than happy?
It is just as easy to share a bad experience or a bad review as it is to share a positive one. In fact, the more cynical nature of the consumer means that sometimes we are more inclined to take the time to share a bad experience rather than bother to relay a positive one. Maybe because the negative experience stands out in our minds more than the positive experience, we remember it for longer. Or maybe just because we’re all miserable cynics, determined that we won’t be sold an idea so easily.
Either way Word of Mouth Marketing is an extremely powerful tool. It can make you, or it can break you.