Yes even in this modern day I still believe that word of mouth is one of the most important tools for promoting and the sustaining of reputation for an organisation.
A lot of businesses especially those too small to warrant spending hundreds of pounds on advertising and promotion, rely on word of mouth to promote their organisation. But it’s not just these businesses who are benefiting from this age old promotional tool, even multinational corporations are reaping the rewards of the modern day word of mouth. Word of mouth marketing or WOMM as the jargon generators have labelled it, has become a fully fledged marketing tool.
Word of mouth is still effective in its traditional form. Conversations between people are incredibly powerful, especially when imparting knowledge. If a customer has had a positive experience in a shop and the next day they tell a family member or work colleague about their experience, they have instantly positively promoted this brand. The opinion of somebody you know and trust is hugely influential and best of all for the businesses it is free. Of course it works both ways, if the experience was a bad one then rather than promoting the brand it will have a negative effective, and potentially loose you customers.
Today word of mouth doesn’t just come from face to face conversations, the popularity of social media and user generated content has meant that WOMM can now be done online as well as offline. Blogs have become a very influential tool and if you break down the concept of a blog you come back to a word of mouth conversation, only in this case the conversation is done online and can be potentially heard by millions of people worldwide. For this reason bloggers are frequently targeted by PR officers to write about a product or brand, so that their word of mouth can be turned into a positive promotion. As with the traditional means of WOMM, online word of mouth can also be detrimental. If a popular blogger has a bad experience with a company and writes about it, it can do a lot of damage to that brand. It’s not just blogs that facilitate online WOMM social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter can also be used.
With the popularity of word of mouth growing, WOMMA the Word of Mouth Marketing Association was set up. An independent organisation for the ethical and effective use of word of mouth marketing, WOMMA wants to ensure that this practice isn’t misused and exploited. WOMMA’s biggest battle is the ethics of the practice and their stance is defined by their 3 principles:
- Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
- Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
- Honesty of Identity: You never lie about who you are
Essentially they believe in complete transparency when using word of mouth, something that other PR practices could take note of…
People love to talk it’s human nature and the conversations we have often shape our opinions of the world, word of mouth marketing has harnessed this and molded it into a marketing function. WOMM is a fantastic promotional tool and can be even better for reputation management, this of course is only true if your basic brand or product is good. It is a risky tool to rely on, as word of mouth is really down to other people’s opinion of your organisation, however if you are confident with your corporate identity and the products or services that you are offering, then this shouldn’t be a problem!