The Word of Mouth Marketing Triangle
In talking with several hundred business owners and entrepreneurs for over thirty years, I have learned that word-of-mouth marketing is always the most favored method of how small business brands grow.
Yet, I have also observed that very few business people initiate proactive word-of-mouth (WOMM) campaigns or tactics. Too many view WOMM as something that just happens, and in no way can be proactively guided as an ongoing strategy.
A Nielsen study in 2013 found that earned media (also described in their report as word-of-mouth) is the most trusted source of information in all countries it surveyed worldwide. Moreover, it found that it is the channel that is most likely to stimulate consumers into action.
Word of Mouth Marketing: Three Important Elements
There are three important factors which underlie powerful and successful word-of-mouth initiatives, all of which can be proactively initiated:
- Acceptable Product/Service
- Opinion Leaders & Influencers
You can’t have an unacceptable product or service and generate any effective word-of-mouth marketing. Acceptable only means that your audience likes what you offer and has a willingness to continue to do business with you.
While McDonald’s does not make the highest quality hamburger, millions upon millions find their products and services acceptable. And they are quite profitable.
Now there are degrees to being acceptable. One could rise to the very top of the “Acceptable Scale” and become a legendary brand such as Tiffany’s, Apple, or Disney.
But there are legendary brands on a micro level, such as the local diner that people wait in line to get into every day. They may not serve the healthiest food, but they are quite acceptable and popular with the locals.
One can always improve the quality of the product and/or service of one’s brand. In this way, you are proactively setting the stage for better word-of-mouth. Creating a one-of-a-kind product or delivering 5-Star service only helps you to generate stronger word-of-mouth.
Opinion Leaders & Influencers
Once your brand can consistently deliver an acceptable product or service, one needs to tap into those who can influence others. It is a known fact that many people judge who to do business with based on what others say.
Opinion leaders and Influencers are not just Instagram models with millions of followers. We have been desensitized that someone who could influence a few hundred or a couple of thousand people is of no value.
These smaller, more focused niche experts connect on a deeper level with their audiences and generate greater engagement.
In fact, micro influencers with 1,000 followers generated 85% higher engagement than those having 100,000 followers, and as the number of followers increases the engagement tends to decrease.
For some brands, these may represent sports figures or well-known business leaders. While for others it may represent local leaders in one’s church or hometown community.
When you can partner with and successfully engage with opinion leaders and influencers, your brand will travel on channels that you could have never reached through paid ads.
One aspect of tapping into influencers is to get people to write positive reviews on Yelp and Google. These review sites most often outrank your own website. Moreover, when you have dozens – even hundreds – of positive reviews, they will influence even more people to do business with your brand.
Publicity Is Key to Word of Mouth Marketing
Publicity is concerned with providing favorable information to the media and any third-party outlets, such as bloggers, mainstream media, as well as new media forms such as podcasts and YouTube vloggers.
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson
The prime role of publicity is to provide a message to consumers without having to pay for direct time or space. This not only creates awareness, but publicity achieves greater credibility in that others are now talking about your brand.
The use of publicity is also known to be an important strategic element and promotional tool due to its effect of intentional exposure on a consumer. This helps publicity gain a beneficial advantage over other marketing aspects such as advertising, alongside its high credibility. Favorable publicity is also created through reputation management, in which organizations try to strive to manage via the web.
Creating one’s own Vlog on YouTube, or establishing one’s own podcast and interviewing interesting people, you are now becoming the actual source of publicity.
If you want more publicity, become your own publicist. As Forbes wrote in December of 2019, “Content Marketing is the New PR.”
Word Of Mouth Marketing Experts
As your Virtual CMO, we are able to help you to develop a strategy to grow your brand with an actionable word of mouth marketing plan.