Word of mouth marketing (WOM) may be the most effective marketing out there today, given the wide availability and accessibility of people’s opinions coupled with the continuing public distrust of company sales pitches. But WOM doesn’t just happen – nor does conventional marketing wisdom apply. WOM marketing is unlike any other kind of marketing out there and poses unique requirements as well as capabilities.
For one thing, WOM usually doesn’t involve creating a new campaign as much as it can cultivate something that already exists. Effective WOM taps into conversations that are already happening and augments and amplifies them to a brand’s advantage.
WOM also is usually most successful when initiated by a specific group of influencers who fan the flames of conversation through their own means and networks. As such, instead of casting as wide a net as possible over a broad target audience, WOM can be achieved through very focused, high-engagement efforts.
Most importantly, WOM by definition taps into things people want to talk about — and that usually doesn’t include companies or products. Most people don’t wake up with a burning desire to share about businesses.
To address these unique opportunities presented by WOM marketing, savvy marketers put people – not brands – at the center of WOM efforts. They spotlight special customers, relate to celebrities and others in the news, show-off the people behind the brand, give a voice to brand followers. They know people usually want to talk about themselves – or dish on others.