Do you know what your customers are saying about you and how you can help to drive the conversation? Zenzi reviews New York Times bestselling book on the topic, “Word of Mouth”.
Word of Mouth or WOM: it just may be the least expensive line item on the marketing spreadsheet. Beginning word of mouth does not have to be expensive, hard to do, or require staff to be dedicated, solely, to it. Yet, for many organizations, WOM can be the most impactful item in an organization’s marketing arsenal.
This is the premise of the New York Times Best seller and Andy Sernovitz’s second book aptly titled, “Word of Mouth Marketing”. Sernovitz was the CEO of Word of Mouth Marketing Organization (WOMMA) from 2004-2007 and today is the CEO of GasPedal and a frequent industry speaker and headliner.
To adlib Sernovitz’s position in the book: Traditional media and word of mouth are forever intertwined. Professionals used to produce our media for us. But today it is less and less about that neat, finished page and a captive audience watching pretty ads displayed on purchased media. News is now served up a la carte by search engines and bloggers. And you don’t always see the story the way it was originally delivered, but may instead get pieces of it, reach it midway through, or consumers may have inserted their opinion online.
Sernovitz boils it down simply:
“Earn the respect and recommendation of your customers, and they will do the rest.
Treat people well, and they will do your marketing for you, for free.
Be interesting or be visible.”
He continues: “Word of mouth marketing works for any size business. You don’t need to have a hot website, to be in a sexy industry, or to have a cool innovative technology. You can make it work if you are the one person who gets it inside a giant corporation. You can make it work for a single store with no advertising budget.”
From deciding what talk-worthy features you can offer, or that your product already has, to capitalizing on events and stunts, creating a private club for top customers, instilling an ambassador program, creating a customer advisory board, or surprising customers with thank you gifts—there are lots of ways to get people talking about your company, products and services. Sernovitz highlights case studies and examples throughout the book—from surprising items at IKEA, tasty food and mystery surrounding their product names that get people talking about and loving the brand, to Half.com’s convincing a small town in Oregon to change its name from Halfway to Half.com for a year.
He lays the process (and book) out simply from “The Essential Concepts” (with the WOM manifesto including ethics come first and happy customers are your best advertisers). He continues with a chapter on “How to Do it”, from finding your “Talkers” who will tell their friends about you, identifying the best ones, creating a program, and finding a great topic. The chapter continues with how you can make the message travel and join the conversation. Finally, he concludes with “In the End…” and “Sixteen Sure-Thing, Must-Do, Awfully Easy, Word of Mouth Marketing Techniques”.
Sernovitz’ is a great, easy to read primer on the topic from which any marketer or business owner can gain.
To add to his perspective: Whether it’s PR, blogging, Content Management—every aspect of a company’s marketing today should tie back to interacting more closely and intimately with customers as part of its goal. Doing WOM right, requires active listening, creativity, empathy and a singular voice. Making sure it is done effectively can be time-consuming and an investment in resources and budget. But the payment, for reaching out to customers and building advocacy, is most often many times over.
Whether you are a beginning marketer or a novice, this is a great read to put into perspective, basic (not rocket science), yet important principles every company should follow and implement. As Sernovitz states, “Marketing is what you do, not what you say.”
Photo credit: Paull Young