Word of mouth marketing. You've heard the phrase and probably even used it as a way to describe your company's informal marketing efforts.
But in practice, effective word of mouth marketing is far from accidental -- it's a coordinated effort that marketers use to promote products or services to consumers.
Research has demonstrated that word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is consistently more effective than traditional marketing methods because consumers are more inclined to believe information they receive from personal contacts. But before you can tap into the benefits of WOMM, you need to understand exactly what it is and how it can be applied in a business context.
What is WOMM?
Word-of-mouth marketing is the process by which information is passed from person to person. Originally, the term was used to describe oral information sharing. But with advances in technology, it can now include the transmission of information about products or services through e-mail, text messaging, and social media outlets. Although WOMM is extremely cost effective, its primary benefit is that it injects an additional layer of credibility into your marketing efforts. Rather than relying on the company for product information, consumers receive information from people they know and trust.
It's important to know that WOMM is not necessarily a random or informal marketing approach. Skillful marketers give people a reason to talk about their products and make it easier for conversations to take place. In marketing terms, successful WOMM can be described as the art of building active consumer to consumer conversations.
How is WOMM applied?
There are several ways in which marketers and business owners can stimulate word of mouth advertising.
- Generating buzz. Companies leverage entertainment venues and news outlets to create exposure for their products and services. The idea is to use these resources as a way to generate buzz and promote WOMM conversations.
- Targeting influencers. Businesses that are serious about WOMM intentionally target key influencers, i.e. people who are capable of influencing large groups of consumers. One of the ways they accomplish this is by giving influencers free access to strategic company offerings.
- Blogs & social media. The most successful word of mouth marketers recognize the key role of electronic media and word of mouth advertising. Blogs, social media sites and other vehicles are commonly employed to instigate consumer to consumer interactions.