Word of Mouth…The Original Buzz Creator

Word of Mouth (WOM) is the oldest and most valuable form of marketing. It’s how people originally found out about products and services before there was print and TV advertising. Even today, consumers still rely on WOM. “According to a new study from marketing firm Lithium Technologies, one third of Americans said they don’t trust advertising to give them information about a product or service they are interested in buying. More than two-thirds of the respondents in the U.S. said they were more receptive to recommendations from family and friends than to online advertising, the study found” (Tadena, 2014).

Marketing’s Role inbuzz WOMM

“WOMM is word of mouth marketing, and it’s an art and a science, that really savvy practitioners use to drive conversations and earn recommendations. It’s about companies/brands/products being so interesting and wonderful that people want to talk about them” (Fanning, 2013). It’s about creating buzz! In a recent study conducted by WOMMA and AMA, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% say they have mastered it (Whitler, 2014).

So if marketers believe WOMM is effective and consumers value it, why isn’t it more of a focus for marketers? “The problem is that for the last few years, marketers have been focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting.” In other words, brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them” (Whitler, 2014). Marketers need to now focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip, Empower. WOMM should take place both on and offline. It’s about connecting and driving conversations!

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5 comments

  1. I definitely agree with the author’s assessment – that today’s companies have largely forsaken word of mouth as an effective marketing strategy. However, I don’t believe it was intentional, but rather a societal trend. In the mid to late 1900s, we had more community – more conversation, more oral communication among individuals. We left that as a society to follow technology advances, which caused us to become more consumer focused, research oriented, internet-based, and individualistic.Traditional word of mouth became obsolete because society left it and companies followed.

    There are two reasons why we have now “rediscovered” this old and valuable type of marketing: (1) in the midst of technology, we recognize and understand the importance of community and communication and (2) marketing has realized that regardless of new techniques, we are still people and we value core virtues like trust.

    Look at social media and online followers. I am more likely to read a story, open a link, or follow something IF there are other individuals whom I trust and respect doing so. The only reason I posted here was because someone whom I trusted sent me a link. I would not have posted otherwise. Likewise, I am more likely to make a purchase based on recommendations from others.

    Trust is an interesting concept and can be obtained various ways in this internet-based world. For me, it starts with knowing the person who is making the recommendations for a story, link, item, etc. or weighing the number and quality of comments/responses from strangers (such as on Yelp.com for a restaurant recommendation). I am more likely to use Angie’s List vs. Craigslist or yellowpages.com because of the word of mouth recommendations from friends. Similarly, I have switched from travelocity.com to tripadvisor.com and priceline.com because of word of mouth recommendations.

    I hope companies remember that, regardless of the era of society, we are still human. We still respond in the same way that we did before the internet – we respond based on what we know and trust. This comes from community and conversations.

    The trick is how to sustain interpersonal and online community/conversations given today’s society.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Completely agree. Word of mouth is like ‘going viral’ — it’s hard to create in a vacuum. It requires that you relinquish control and for many brands it’s hard to do. Leveraging WOM for your marketing means that you have to let users tell your story. Hopefully if you’ve provided a good customer and product experience, the story will be great, but many brands can’t be so confident.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Engagement rates are the should be the true indicator of social media success for today’s brands. However, I’ve noticed that more brands are focused on the number of followers rather than the engagement rate. This often happens because an organization’s management team doesn’t necessarily understand social media marketing so they place the importance on how many people are seeing the message rather than interacting with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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