Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) has the power to quickly build up or tear down the reputations of products, services and organizations.
Although many brand stories are shared offline, word of mouth can also spread very rapidly through social media. In order to leverage the power of WOM brands need to understand the dynamics of this intangible and often elusive form of marketing.
Trust lies at the core of every strong personal relationship – the same goes for relationships stakeholders have with brands. The driving force behind consumers’ desire to share positive stories about organizations is the trust they have in the products, services and people associated with those entities.
Trust is not built overnight. It’s nurtured over time with every customer, vendor and employee micro-interaction. The simple fact of the matter is that stakeholders see through brand hype and the only real way to build trust is make a promise and deliver on it. The classic example is customer service. Organizations need to make sure they meet or exceed the service expectations they’ve created with customers – falling short on these types of basic brand promises will result in the wrong kind of WOM.
As social media becomes ubiquitous the speed and frequency of WOM communication will continue to increase. The ability for stories to scale beyond traditional channels i.e. face to face, phone, etc. becomes a double-edged sword for organizations.
Unfortunately, as quickly as positive stories get exposed, negative word of mouth seems to travel even faster. When it comes to WOMM brands need to understand the growing role of technology and its ability to aggregate, amplify and distribute individual voices.
Word of mouth is often viewed as the pinnacle of marketing. By its nature it is enigmatic and difficult to fabricate. Consumer experiences driven by basic business fundamentals such as quality, service and experience seem to fuel WOM. So why aren’t more people talking about products and services?
Because WOMM is intangible it’s easy for leaders to lose sight of the effects to the bottom line. There needs to be more awareness of the individual online and offline interactions taking place across organizations and the potential long term impacts to brand equity.
Maybe it’s as simple an honest look in the mirror. What would you tell your friends about your own products, services and culture? What types of individual interactions do feel are the most important in helping prompt positive WOM? The comments are yours.
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