Word of Mouth- A Marketing Gameplan
By Hallie Mummert
Years ago, word of mouth meant that a dissatisfied customer told about 10 friends about her experience with your company and then maybe a handful of these people related the story to two or three more people. Your company's gaffe was not desirable, but it wasn't disastrous on a large scale.
Today, word of mouth has evolved into a more serious threat or opportunity, depending on how you view it. Consider that 26 percent of Americans posted a product or service review online last year, says Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, in Chicago. Those reviews have permanence, as do the content on blogs and other forms of user-generated content. "Everything lives forever on Google," Sernovitz warned attendees at CADM DM Days 2006, held at Chicago's Navy Pier.
In his presentation, "Harnessing the Consumer Voice: Introduction to Word-of-Mouth Marketing," Sernovitz provided marketers with five steps to turn word of mouth into a marketing opportunity.
1. Find the talkers—Look for those people who love your product or service and aren't afraid to share their thoughts with others. You will find them on fan sites, blogs, your customer housefile (check your testimonial list), etc.
2. Give talkers a topic—Make sure they have news to share on your behalf, such as new product information, communiqués from your CEO or president, special offers and promotions … anything that makes this group feel privileged.
3. Provide conversation tools—Make it easy for your brand ambassadors by providing them with easily forwarded e-mails, coupons, message boards and other tools that establish community.
4. Take part in the dialogue—Let customers know you're listening and you care. When appropriate, jump into blogs and message boards to provide answers to questions, announce company developments and share your love of what your company does. Just don't stifle the conversation.