Everyone knows positive word-of-mouth is a good way to boost your reputation with customers and potentially spur sales. It’s a concept that’s been around for a long time, but it’s gaining even greater momentum now that the Internet and blogging can take customers’ opinions of your company and products and speed them around the world to thousands, if not millions, of other folks in a matter of seconds. So, what constitutes word-of-mouth in this age of cyberspace? And how can direct marketers optimize the power of word-of-mouth in their marketing campaigns? To answer these questions, and more, TM Tipline spoke to Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Chicago, Ill.-based Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association working to promote and improve word-of-mouth marketing.
Target Marketing: What is word-of-mouth marketing?
Andy Sernovitz: It’s giving people something to talk about and making it easier for those conversations to take place. Think of it as consumer-to-consumer marketing. How do you get consumers to talk to other consumers about your products and services?
TM: How should marketers think about their campaigns to take into account word-of-mouth marketing?
AS: The first [step is] looking at the quality of direct marketing. … It means looking at content from the perspective of, “Is it worth talking about?” That’s the exciting part. You can send a piece of mail, you can look at it and ask: Is it decent? Is it good? Would anyone ever tell a friend about this? That’s a reasonable question that most marketers aren’t asking.
TM: What’s driving the growth of word-of-mouth marketing?
AS: Two things have happened that have made word-of-mouth more relevant and timely: The first is, we can measure the impact of word-of-mouth. The second is, we can do something about its [effectiveness]. We’ve always known that word-of-mouth is important. What’s different is you can create word-of-mouth campaigns. You can use these techniques to make word-of-mouth less accidental and more intentional.