A good business is usually based upon a sound business plan.
A sound business plan will have a brand plan and from the brand plan there will be a brand marketing plan. A brand marketing plan will set out the methods business owners use to take their brand to market.
Marketing activities will then ensue and these will be supported by brand collateral, commonly a combination of well-written copy with elegant design across printed advertising materials, a website, video, social media, signage (including digital) and the like.
Of course, the brand should do much of the marketing work itself. After all, it is the brand with which individuals will resonate, identify, associate themselves and to which they will eventually become loyal.
But what about our use of the most ancient of social media – WOM? How can the full potential of WOM be realised in the digital age for your business, as part of your business marketing mix?
What is WOM?
WOM is simply ‘Word of Mouth’.
The principle of WOM dates to our most primitive of days. Of course, word of mouth wasn’t used in those days to market products and services.
Localised to a small village or tribe or other form of social grouping, word of mouth will have been used for other important reasons. Warnings for the benefit and safety of others or sharing information about a reliable food source are perhaps two good examples of early word of mouth.
Word of mouth has always been used to transmit news and information of one kind or another. Individuals will have been judged on their truthfulness and dependability by what they shared. In this sense, little has changed.
WOM in the Digital Age
When we bring this once rudimentary and organic way of spreading information up to date and combine it with the immense power of the Internet and SMM (Social Media Marketing) WOM becomes WOMM and a highly effective marketing tool.
Most of us will have had great moments at events or eaten delicious and beautifully plated food at a restaurant. In situations such as these, it isn’t long before we find ourselves sharing our experiences with others, to offer our opinion and to make a review.
Some of us will have ‘checked in’ with Facebook to announce our whereabouts at a newly discovered venue.
An ever-increasing number of us take photos using our ‘phones and other handheld devices to share our moments with friends and followers at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, WhatsApp and other social media networks.
When we engage in activities such as these we become 'influencers'.
The benefit brought by influencers across digital social media to the event organiser, the restaurant owner and the now-discovered venue are huge – and all free from advertisement and promotion cost. Imagine these benefits for your business.
How Important is WOMM?
WOMM is probably the most important form and valuable source of marketing. A Nielsen study revealed that 92% of consumers believe in the recommendations made by their friends and family more than they do in advertising.
It is important to note too that WOMM doesn’t simply stop after one recommendation. One person will go on to tell another and that person will tell another and so on. If used well, such a chain of communication can become an excellent device for exposure and distribution.
We should remember, however, that the reverse is also true. Disapproval and negative reviews can spread just as quickly – often more effectively!
Personal endorsements both offline and online in the digital age are immensely valuable to consumers today and to your business.
WOMM Activation for your Business
Connecting with business prospects and customers, whether offline or online is vital. Offline methods of engagement are tried and tested and still have their place.
Online, there is a keenness within the business community to develop a growing following using social media. Having a large social media following, however, without making regular contact with the followers themselves will return little benefit. If you and your business are not interested in the audience you have ‘collected’, the audience won’t be interested in you.
To achieve the best from WOMM your business needs effective supporters and followers and ultimately influencers. The more interested they are about your business – passionate, even! – the more likely and effectively they will talk about and share your business. WOMM will do its work of influencing others.
To maintain interest with your supporters and followers online it is essential you have information about your business and business sector that’s worth talking about and sharing.
Facebook users, for example, are more likely to share content that is fresh and educational to their network and/or that makes them look good and that is in tune with the profile image they have created for themselves. The same can be said of Instagram but in a much more visual style.
Your tapping into events, products, areas of interest, humour and in-the-moment news that is identified as being important to your supporters and followers will increase your relevance to them with a likelihood they will remember you and talk about you.
Sharing information of value is also key. This can be about your own product or service or something else quite different in which you and your followers share an interest. Sharing valuable information in turn makes you more valuable.
Creating emotional reaction is important too. People are very likely to share how they were moved emotionally by something they have seen and heard in person or seen, heard and read online.
Sharing information in the most human of ways is alive and well. Word of mouth, once rudimentary, is now an advanced form of communication and this combined with the potential of the digital age makes WOMM a highly effective marketing tool for your business.
Author: Phillipe Avery
Founder Director, Future Point 4 Business