There was a point in time in the past when print media circulation was low in the Philippines and distribution was restricted only to the big cities.
It was that time when the reach of broadcast media was limited to small regions a few kilometers around the immediate vicinity of their broadcasting station. It was a time when Filipinos come to know about products for the first time from endorsements and recommendations made by friends and peers and marketing success depended largely on word of mouth strategies that included extensive product sampling and taste tests.
Mass Media vs. Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing
But as the scope and reach of mass media started to spread and reached every corner of every country, print and broadcast became the preferred advertising medium. Word-of-mouth marketing was deemed primitive and relegated to the sidelines to gather dust. And for a long while mass media ads held consumers in sway totally mesmerizing them with fancy visuals and hyped up messages accompanied by catchy tunes all designed to condition consumer minds to recall brands instantly. For a long while they were able to get away with slamming brands into our subconscious minds and rammed inferior products made to appear superior through slick marketing magic down our throats. Mass media have become irritatingly overwhelming bombarding us with paid ads wherever go for decades now. It is a good thing all these may soon end because the internet is poised to push all these mass media marketing shenanigans into oblivion and bring back the more reliable word of mouth marketing in its place.
To a great extent the internet has empowered consumers and gave them back the power to be more discerning with our choices on which products to purchase. It also enabled users to gel into a single, informal online community where members collaborate with one another and where relationships are built on trust and respect for each other. It is a community where honesty pervades and where the word of one is accepted on its face value. It is in this kind of environment that mouth-to-mouth endorsements or peer-to-peer recommendations are worth their weight in gold.
There are widespread expectations for word-of-mouth marketing to replace traditional mass media advertising in the near term. This is not just a possibility but a reality that is slowly unfolding before us. This phenomenon is reinforced by a Nielsen report published in April 2012 that says that 92% of the world’s population gives more weight to recommendations made by other people while only 47% trust print and multimedia advertisements. People have grown tired of being bombarded by paid ads everyday that they no longer trust them and are completely ignoring them.
The online marketing trend is evidently shifting back to word-of-mouth advertising. It was precipitated by the spread of internet usage almost everywhere and further fueled by the surge in popularity of social networking sites. This is a signal to the brands to quit talking at people and instead make them talk about their brands.
The Undeniably-Mighty Power of Word of Mouth Marketing
(Online) Word of mouth marketing is simply an awesome concept that embraces any and every online activity that generates a desired behavioral response. It includes blogs, brand advocates, idea influencers, and social media. It is truthful and is firmly anchored on the belief that the endorser is just being honest. It has the capacity to be viral once amplified by social media and can make or break a product or a brand.
However, marketing success is something that may seem elusive with WOMM. You’ll never know which strategy is right and which will propel your product into an overnight sensation. Never the less, WOMM is considered today as the most compelling form of marketing because it is the most sustainable and delivers the best ROI.
Stuffs to Keep in Mind in Developing your WOMM Strategy
- Live up to Your Word – When people buy your products make sure it lives up to promised quality or level of service otherwise WOMM can work against and bury your product into oblivion for good.
- Ask for Endorsements, Don’t be shy – Most people will not automatically endorse your product online no matter how good it is. You need to ask them for recommendations, shout-outs, and endorsements. Don’t be shy – ask for it!
- Rein in the Talkers – Find people who are willing to talk about your products and win them over to your side. Start with your own friends and peers. Solicit the help of influential bloggers to talk about your product. Again, don’t be shy to ask for help.
- Create a buzz, Give people something to talk about – It can be anything from special offers, a new product feature, a contest among your followers, a donation to charity, even the most silly ideas will do as long you can keep people engaged.
- Spread the Word Fast through Social Media – Post the topic on Facebook. Create tweets and encourage your followers to re-tweet it. Send out viral emails and possibly distribute product samples. You can also use Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, etc.
- Participate Actively in every Conversation – Make sure you reply to every comment and thank every fan and follower who participates. Remember, the whole thing is more than just about pushing your product. It is about starting conversations and you need to be sincere about it. People will be able to immediately feel your honesty and sincerity and regard you as a though leader.
- Address all issues promptly and squarely – Don’t leave comments unanswered even if they appear to be negative. People may think you are skirting the issue and may have something to hide. Answer all of them honestly and with all sincerity. If there are issues you can’t answer at the moment say so but get back to them as soon as you can.
- Track your Progress – Monitor your metrics to track your progress. Visits to your site should have profoundly increased and your bottom line should have improved if you did everything right. If not, find out what it is you did wrong.
More than anyone else, it is the online marketer who fully appreciates the value of consumers to the marketing mix. He knows that consumer opinions greatly impacts the bottom line so he needs to keep on searching for effective ways to engage them and turn them into his brand ambassadors.