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‘‘It is a reference to the passing of information from person to person. Originally the term
referred specifically to oral communication (literallywords from the mouth), but now includes
any type of human communication, such as face-to-face, telephone, email, and text messaging.

To promote and manage word-of-mouth communications, marketers use publicity techniques as


well as viral marketing methods to achieve desired behavioral response. Influencer marketing is
increasingly used to seed WOMM by targeting key individuals that have authority and a high
number of personal connections.

Marketers place significant value on positive word-of-mouth, which is traditionally achieved by


creating products, services and customer experiences that generate conversation-worthy "buzz"
naturally. The relatively new practice of word of mouth marketing attempts to inject positive
"buzz" into conversations directly. While marketers have always hoped to achieve positive word-
of-mouth, deliberate efforts to generate beneficial consumer conversations must be transparent
and honestly conducted in order to meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Federal Trade
Commission Act that prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." To help marketers
understand the difference between legitimate and unfair practices, a number of professional
organizations have put forward recommendations for ethical conduct.

Word-of-mouth effects in the life cycle of cultural goods has been mathematically modelled. One
of most used ways to calculate it is based on the following formula: WOM§ȇ÷ȓ (where ȇ is the
number of persons that answered, in a representative poll, they somehow do talked about a brand
or product; and ȓ is the number of planned impacts of an advertisement campaign for that specific
brand or product ). For evidence as to the conditions under which word-of-mouth
communication is effective, see Grewal et al. 2003.

With the emergence of Web 2.0, many web start-ups like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace,
and Digg have used buzz marketing by merging it with the social networks that they have
developed. With the increasing use of the Internet as a research and communications platform,
word of mouth has become an even more powerful and useful resource for consumers and
marketers.

In October 2005, the advertising watchdog group Commercial Alert petitioned the United States
FTC to issue guidelines requiring paid word-of-mouth marketers to disclose their relationship
and related compensation with the company whose product they are marketing. The United
States FTC stated that it would investigate situations in which the relationship between the word-

c
of-mouth marketer of a product and the seller is not revealed and could influence the
endorsement. The FTC stated that it would pursue violators on a case-by-case basis.
Consequences for violators may include cease-and-desist orders, fines or civil penalties.
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r If you get feedback from a particularly satisfied customer, ask if you can use their comments
as a testimonial in your next brochure. Jot down their comments as well as their name and
address. Before publishing their comments ask for their written permission by mail. After
receiving their written permission, add their testimonial to your marketing brochure when you
next update it.
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Use the power of testimonials to market your business. If you get feedback from a particularly
satisfied customer, ask if you can use their comments as a testimonial in your next brochure. Jot
down their comments as well as their name and address. Before publishing their comments ask
for their written permission by mail. After receiving their written permission, add their
testimonial to your marketing brochure when you next update it.
r 3
Let your customers help you market your business. Offer your customers a future discount for
each person they refer to you. When your customer's name is mentioned as a referral source,
keep track of it in a notebook so you'll remember to give that customer a discount when they
next purchase from you.
r 4
Lose your fear or talking to people.Tell everyone you know what you do for a living. It's said
that every person you meet knows over 200 other people. By telling one person what you do,
you're reaching a large universe of potential customers. Use word of mouth marketing to spread
the word about your products and services.
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When a customer buys a product from you, give them a coupon for a 10% discount on their next
purchase. At the same time, give them several extra coupons to give to friends and family.
People love discounts and will express their gratitude by giving you free advertising.
r 6
When you sell a product, give your customers extra business cards or fliers to give to their
friends and family. People love to share new discoveries with their acquaintances. Make it easy
for them by giving them a stack of brochures.
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Design an effective brochure or flyer and take it with you wherever you go. Pin your brochure up
on bulletin boards, put them in fish bowls at restaurants, and hand them to people you meet
throughout the day. This is a quick and easy way to market your business. It's a great form of
free advertising.
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Give your customers a fun and friendly shopping experience. Go the extra mile. Give your
customers such amazing service that they can't wait to tell their friends. Truly good customer
service is rare these days. Go the extra mile and watch your sales rise.

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The power of the human voice and human contact are the most powerful communications tools
we have. In this day of intense media bombardment, the average person receives over 1000
messages a day. No wonder things get lost along the way and we feel like our heads are
exploding with slogans and jingles. But there is something that can cut through the clutter. We
will listen to other people -- especially those we know and trust. We respond to the human voice.
Word-of-mouth.

We also believe information we hear from other people, faster than we'll believe what is written
in a brochure or seen on a TV ad. The stories we hear from each other. The hints and tips. We
arem m human yellow pages for each other. Word-of-mouth.

In a multitude of focus groups conducted for a variety of clients by Full Circle Associates, we
have been struck by the level of fatigue and distrust the public has for slogans and campaigns.
They want and value information, but are asking for it straight up, not packaged and polished. If
we want them to do something in particular, they want us to just ask them to do it and then leave
it to them to decide. This points to the the importance of word-of-mouth as a critical component
of any communications effort.

If you want to get your message out, about and heard you must spend the time to that it takes to
recruit many messengers. Effective communications efforts MUST include a component that
strengthens the opportunity and execution of word-of-mouth (WOMM) activities. Other
traditional communications channels such as media and direct mail complement WOMM, but
they cannot take its' place. WOMM increases the response to other channels.

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WOMM is the tool that every single member of your organization can use to advance the
mission of the organization. It is not reserved for the "marketing and communications" folks. It is
not the sole domain of the customer service team. It is the one thing that crosses all
organizational lines because we all talk to other people -- co-workers, neighbors, friends and
family, customers and the general public. The key to using WOM as part of your
communications strategy is to help each person present a clear, integrity-filled message each
time they communicate with others.

Each time we greet a client or customer, serve them, listen to them, we have the chance to share
information and demonstrate the values of the organization. Do we treat them with respect and
dignity? Do we provide enough information so that they can get to know us and our
organizations better? Do we ask the questions and then listen to what they need? Do we ask them
for feedback on what is going well and what needs improvement? Do we share the latest news of
what our organization is doing with and for them? Do we ask for their help when appropriate?
These exchanges can produce three things:

ÿ
M‘ A relationship
M‘ A chance to provide information to the customer
M‘ A chance to learn from the customer

This serves as a starting point for Permission Marketing which is a key strategy especially when
using the Internet.

 

 


Too often we don't know what we don't know. Has a client who missed an appointment ever
annoyed you? Would you act differently if you knew why? What if the key was evening hours
two days a week? Do we ask our clients to help us understand the barriers? Do we assume we
know? Simple questions can help us learn much about our customers, especially when deployed
throughout the organizations. Imagine what could be learned in a week if every member of a
staff who came in contact with a customer had the goal of finding out some particular kernel of
information.

 
 





We hear talk of building one's "brand." Well in the end, a brand is only as good as the number of
people who will come back a second time. "Brand loyalty" may be closer to what an organization
needs. But aren't people loyal to other people rather than to a name? For non profits and
community organizations this is an important distinction. Your "brand" extends to every person
in your organization and how they treat others. How they listen. How they talk and share
information.

One true test of a brand is if one person recommends it to another. U . Do you ask your
clients and customers for referrals? Personally? How do you follow up on referrals? Do you ask
your clients for their success stories and compliments along with permission to share them?
These are far more believable than any slogan. What are you doing to capture this information?
These opportunities available each time you talk with a client.

 
  
 
  

WOMM provides an organization the opportunity to share information in a setting of direct


attention. Did you tell your customer about your planned product changes? The special event on
their favorite topic? What do you think will make a stronger, longer-lasting health education
impression? A poster on the wall, or the impact of a personal message along with a brochure to
take home that has all the details. Imagine the increased impact of of the information coming
from someone you trust. It is powerful.

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Beyond the acts of human-to-human interaction, WOMM also provides organizations with a rich
source of information that can be used for quality improvement, new product development and
other activities. But if we don't capture and explore what we learn from our customers, it is a
wasted opportunity.

Finding ways for staff to share what they learn from customers and clients is essential. Keeping
notes, collecting success stories to use for marketing with the customers' permission, regular
debriefs on what the "talk" is telling the organization are just some of the ways the information
can be collected. Reviewing what is heard and drawing lessons learned to apply to other
situations leverages the information into organizational knowledge.