Today we will be talking about the oldest and most basic form of marketing. This concerns channels that are used by every person, brand, and company. More precisely we are talking about word of mouth (WOM), or in other words, reviews, recommendations, positive experiences, and the building of a positive name. We will reveal our perspective and observations on WOM and just why it is important for you business that you understand and work on it, and not just during the early stages of your business.
What they say about quality thingsí
Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is, without exception, important for all businesses. It is something of a cornerstone on which companies should begin to build their brand. It works quite simply. People talk, give each other advice, and share their feelings, when they find something that tastes good or something entertaining or pleasantly surprising. In short, it’s a chain reaction effect of advertising/recommendations/reviews among people based on experience. Of course, it can also work in the opposite way, in a negative direction, which we would characterize as negative WOM or negative PR.
In all honesty, how many friends have you already recommended a restaurant to or a favourite ice cream shop with pure ingredients, a shopping mall with the best children’s playroom, a really good movie at the cinema, or a pub with the best and ever-changing selection of beer?Does this happen often? This is exactly what word of mouth marketing is.
A brands natural ambassador
Now just think about exactly how many brands you have helped in this way. You recommended them. You raised the quality of the product that they make or the service that they provide. I suppose that, throughout the course of your life, you have done this for the benefit of hundreds of brands. Some do it more often while others less, but we all do it. What you have actually done by recommending a certain brand, product or service is to take upon yourself a certain amount of responsibility.Your name and your reputation indirectly guarantee that the thing you have recommended will have the desired effect. By doing so, you have become a natural ambassador for the brand and have helped to spread its good name. We consider being an ambassador of a brand to be the greatest expression of loyalty which you can show for a brand.
When and how is positive WOM created
Positive WOM begins in a number of situations. In our view, it occurs mostly when you give the customer something extra. When you go beyond the border of the routine and really take notice of his or her desires. For example the perfect chocolate praline you give the customer with his or her coffee. Or the glass of champagne on an airplane – a gesture, which costs you nothing, but enriches your passengers’ journey and eases the wait until they see their loved ones again after a long business trip.
Do you remember, 20 years ago, when McDonald’s swooped into Slovakia with its own unique concept. It was a very interesting concept and fact that so-called fast food could be raised to a higher level. With regards to WOM, what helped them the most was the bonus offered in the form of a children’s corner right in the restaurant. Your little ones could play there while you ordered them a kid’s meal with a toy and enjoyed your favourite hamburger with friends or family. It was something new. And this is one of the reasons why McDonald’s is so popular in our country.
Experiences simply spread
We could mention other brands whose concept was so strong that their main marketing channel was WOM. For example, Benihana – entertainment restaurants, where you experience the preparation of your favourite Japanese food right before your very eyes. The cooks are also entertainers and you don’t simply wait for your food, but have a good time watching it being prepared. Another example is Spartan Race, which is becoming quite a phenomenon in our neck of the woods. This is all centres around recommendations and the spreading of sport experiences. Those who have tried and completed it once, will talk about it and entice their friends and family to try it as well. Just like their slogan says: You will only understand after you’ve reached the target.. Otherwise it’s just simply not possible. Other global brands that have built their marketing on WOM include Redbull, Starbucks and Coca-Cola.
Yes, I know that you might think that these examples, in practice, would not work for your business. I need to, however, correct this thinking, because it’s just not true. Take another one of the factors upon which it’s possible to build your WOM. It’s generosity. What would happen if a restaurant offered, each Saturday and Sunday, a free dessert with every main dish? It’s nothing complicated, but believe me, people would talk about your generosity. You can, of course, cover the price of these free weekend desserts by budgeting them into the cost of the main meals and drinks. This form of advertising will cost you nearly nothing and people will happily come back again and again because they will consider you as something exceptional.
Give people room to express themselves
As it’s already been said, WOM is one of the oldest forms of advertising. Today, however, in addition to its offline form, which till now has been the spoken word, there is also an online version. That’s right, social media, a place for user evaluations, discussions and social networks. Communicate with customers and react to their online WOM wherever possible. Let them know, that you are really interested in their opinions and that they can also influence things.
Take for example the brand Starbucks, which, by the way, just recently opened its first branch here in Slovakia. From the very beginning, Starbucks refused to invest in traditional forms of advertising and focused on WOM, online solutions and social networks, in which they tried to create communities of their fans. For example, they created the micro site “My Starbucks Idea”, where users could express their ideas and thoughts and help the brand improve its products and services.
In conclusion, just a little advice for the folks in marketing: When considering the communication of your brand, try not to focus only on the numbers and try to see yourselves not only as collectors of “likes”, commenters and fans, but also as someone who is connecting your brand with people and who wants to bring them added value, because you know it will all come back in the form of WOM. Believe me, having 50 really enthusiastic fans often means much more than having 500 customers that you have actually “stolen”. We truly believe that this article has helped you to see your business or company in a different light. Do not hesitate to consult with us regarding your marketing activities – The first coffee is on us!