Word of Mouth: More Powerful Than You Think

Word of Mouth: More Powerful Than You Think


Perhaps you’ve come across the acronym WOM from time to time. We certainly have. It’s nothing new in the world of marketing, as word-of-mouth has been around as long as people have been. However, the amount of significance attached to it in the retail world has changed…and dramatically so for the last few years.

While measuring WOM offline always involved some hit and miss metrics, it is within the online world that WOM is beginning to leave a more indelible mark. Perhaps it’s important to define WOM before fully analyzing its effectiveness. For that, we turned to the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Web site that describes it as, “The art and science of building active, mutually beneficial consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-marketer communications.”

We also liked WOMMA’s mission statement that exclaims, “Pioneering the art and science of amplifying genuine consumer enthusiasm.” The organization even holds a summit every year in November in Las Vegas.

So then, why are we bringing this up? As consumers continue to increase their daily time online and social networking continues its amazing run, we think it might be time to take a closer look at what implementing a word-of-mouth campaign involves. The bottom-line within the User Generated Content (UGC) world and all this Web 2.0 talk is how much all this has empowered people to share their experiences and opinions.

A good place to start would be a visit to WOMMA (www.womma.org) and clearly define what it is you want a WOM campaign to accomplish. WOMMA lays out the basic elements of a smart WOM campaign as: Educating people about your products and services; Identifying people most likely to share their opinions; Providing tools that make it easier to share information; Studying how, where, and when opinions are being shared; and listening and responding to supporters, detractors, and neutrals.

Based on our very unscientific research, it appears that the real success to WOM is realizing that it is as much about marketing and promotion as it is about simply being in tune with the environment you’re retailing in. Essentially, if you’re not responding to what your customers are saying and feeling to begin with, there’s no point to investing the time in a WOM campaign.

On the other hand, if you realize that running any kind of successful marketing campaign is as much about understanding and insight as it is about promotion, then gaining an edge through WOM is a terrific idea.

“The great thing about WOM is the fact you can measure it in a numbers of ways – ways regular campaigns can’t be measured with,” Neil Find, a New Jersey native who spent 15 years on the agency side of the business recently told us. “Today’s consumers want to be heard and they truly love this new give and take the Net provides. This phenomenon is only going to grow and ignoring its power would be foolish.”

It’s always been about reacting to changes, only now you can see them coming so much sooner.