Word of mouth (WOM) is a natural and on-going phenomenon, taking place whenever people come together. Many businesspeople realise that, from a marketing perspective, it's the most influential force with respect to how your consumers view your brand, especially regarding the decision of whether to purchase or not.
But what's less known is how to stimulate WOM for your brand - and that's the focus of this article.
The first step is to identify your "advocates" - the consumers who are already fans of your brand. Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) specialists do this by using a tool such as the Net Promoter Score as a guide, which provides a scale from one to 10.
This allows a brand to identify consumers, based on their responses to a simple question, as being one of the following three types:
- brand detractor
- passive (neutral) about a brand, or
- brand advocate.
The question to ask is: "On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend this brand to a friend?" Although the essence of simplicity, the question is based upon years of research and is a best practice for brands globally (find out more at www.netpromoter.com
The next step is best explained via the actual process word-of-mouth agencies go through and is about leveraging the advocate's excitement for the brand by asking for their recommendation and then exposing it to a broader community.
Specialised WOM agencies have built platforms that allow brands to take a testimonial, a review or a referral from an advocate, and have it uploaded and published on any relevant social media site, online forum or review site.
What's exciting about this step is that, within a few days, your clients are able to generate potentially tens of thousands of online recommendations that will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people.
Online reviews are the second-most powerful driver of purchases, after WOM recommendations. It has been shown that for every three recommendations we receive, we act on at least one of them, which brings the power of the abovementioned point into light.
Step number three is for WOMM agencies to build a community that can live both online (web and mobile) as well as offline, through interaction and events. It's important that passionate brand-fanatics can come together to be inspired while continually being given reasons to talk about your brand and recommend it to others.
Once you have the community platform in place, WOMM specialists then plan how they can start turning existing "influencers
" (who are not consuming the brand) within the target market into new advocates for the brand. This is a very important step and this method allows for radical results to take place.
People talk about three things:
- customer service (either great or terrible)
- how a product works and its benefits, or
- remarkable things (something that surprises, delights or shocks).
As brands, businesspeople - regardless of industry - need to continually seed this kind of content into the community. WOM strategies are not once-off actions, but are on-going and long-term methodologies. The brand needs to continue to engage with its most talkative and passionate devotees, create experiences worth talking about and involve these devotees in growing the brand.
In all your activities, qualify your marketing activity with the golden question: "Is this remarkable enough for my customer to want to tell their friends about?"