Word of Mouth

Word of mouth

A powerful tool to advertise

Advertising is one of the powerful tools that companies use to increase their reach and spread their brand identity.

From TV ads, to billboards, to post on social media platforms, radio ads, ads on buses and many other ways to get recognized by the audience. However, it is argued that the most powerful tool to increase the sales of the company is the power of the word of mouth.

It is becoming more complicated now as the word of mouth is not only the traditional friend to friends and gossips about brands. It become the word of mouth on Social Media groups and pages, even the brand official pages and websites; the stars and reviews on E-commerce and book reading groups.

These are the new ways of word of mouth.

The power of word of mouth

It is that strong!

Word of mouth is said to be responsible of almost two third of the sales around the globe. If this info shows something; it shows how strong the power of words is in the marketing strategy of the companies if adopted.

People trust their friends more than they trust TV ads; their friends might have actually tried that product and most likely will give  a more sincere opinion about the experience with that product, so they would be more trustworthy, moreover, most of the time, people are not fans of TV ads, many people get disturbed when the ads pop up while watching their shows on TVs, and many people just pick up their phones and satisfy the Social Media addiction by looking on their screens, check their mails or continue chatting while muting the volume, or grabbing a sandwich from the kitchen.

However, the word of mouth isn’t always good news for companies

It is two-ways’ road

When talking about the word of mouth, it is a two-way road, that is, it can carry positive news, and also carry some negative news regarding the company, the product or the brand. As mentioned before, people tend to trust their friends more than ads, they also tend to trust the community they belong to. When the words spread about a certain company, most of the time, people living in that community take those words as the truth, whether they were positive or negative. This has to do with the collective thinking of the society. Thus, the negative word of mouth may hold more negative outcome for the company.

A single rumor regarding a certain company, might be enough to destroy the reputation of the company. However, many also argue that there is no such thing as “negative publicity”; whether it is good or bad word of mouth, it is considered publicity and it is good for the company.

Some companies panic when they know that there is some negative chatter about them, while others, see it as a chance to take advantage of.
It is two-ways’ road
When faced with negative word of mouth, many companies prefer to ignore what the people are mouthing, others tend to defend themselves against those negative talks, other companies prefer to take advantage of the situation and increase their publicity.
They reckon that as long as people are talking about them, that means that their brand is being identified, and they do not need to spend much on publicity; they think that people’s talks would be more than enough to spread their name.
 
For example, the UK comparing website comparethemarket.com, was highly misspelled by the users with comparethemeerkat.com, usually, this is a sign of low brand recognition, however, they have used that to their advantage, they created the website comparethemeerkat.com as a publicity tool, and it was a successful campaign for them, all because of a typo, which at first seemed like bad news. This might state that even the word of mouth methods has developed with the digital revolution.

The Social Media effect

The Social Media effect

With the social media being the trend in the advertising business due to the wide reach; it is now easier to spread word of mouth via these platforms. When it comes to word of mouth; the highest the reach to people, the better. Now, the news; whether positive or negative, can reach to wider population rates. A post on a social media platform, can reach a large group of people, moreover, any like, comment or share on that post, will result in an increase in the engagement rate, thus reaching even more people, and also taking into consideration that some social media platforms permit users to send broadcasts and create groups of people. The word of mouth is known to be this powerful, because a person is not perceived as one, however, this individual is perceived as a community, because psychology argues that each person has influence on two to ten people around him/her at least. So, imagine how strong the word of mouth currently with the presence of social media platforms.

If the data reached two people, those two can influence average of ten people, social media platforms provided the ability for a person to reach thousands and millions, so the news will travel faster, especially with influencers and public figures.

Influencing Consumer Behavior

As mentioned before, people tend to believe their friends more than they would believe an ad done by a celebrity regarding a certain product or service. However, when ads are mixed with user experience; many people tend try those products or services for themselves. Many of those public figures are role models for a lot of people, so they associate themselves with the behavior of those public figures. Let’s take professional football players as an example, Messi; the Argentinian football player, is sponsored by the brand Adidas, thus, Messi fans would most probably prefer to wear Adidas over other brands, not just because they love Messi, but also because they have seen Messi on the pitch with those shoes, they have seen the performance of that product, and also they associate themselves with their idol. So, when Messi posts about wearing Adidas shoes on social media, he gets engagements from millions of fans around the world, reviewing positive feedback regarding those shoes, provoking more positive feedback to wider reach of people. Studies have showed that 81% of consumers are influenced by their friends.

Work for the five stars

In order for the company to rely their marketing strategy on word of mouth, they most probably need to build a good reputation of themselves. They need to present a good product; so, they give the consumers a reason to spread positive word of mouth. They also need to show a good service, because at the end of the day, the consumer will not remember what was said when dealing with the company, however, consumer will always remember how it felt dealing with the company.Building a good service, and relying on relationship marketing, rather than transactional marketing; will create more engagement with the consumers, of which in return, would create a good experience in dealing with the company, this way, the brand will be perceived as a good brand, the consumers would develop positive perception regarding the company and they would probably spread their positive feedback about their positive experience with the company. Companies may also organize events in order to create more engagement with the consumers.

Engage Audience

Organizing events can be very helpful for the company, not only for their brand recognition, but also for their engagement with their consumers and target audience.

One of the best examples of companies followed this strategy is Red Bull. Red Bull salesmen used to attend small sports events in order to give free Red Bull cans for the athletes to try. Whether or not those athletes are Red Bull customers, but they are probably the target market of Red Bull, this why they wanted to make them realize how this can enhance their energy and performance when playing their favorite sports. And also, giving away free products would be perceived as a nice gesture.

By time, Red Bull were able to sponsor small events, then huge events and now they own teams in the major sports in the world, like football and Formula1, and other sports. Red Bull is perceived by consumers as the number one energy drink in the world, that by itself is a huge boost to the brand identity.

Companies applying relationship marketing, would highly appreciate their loyal customers.

Building Loyalty

Another step the companies can apply, is loyalty programs. Many consumers have loyalty to certain brands, they have a sense of belonging to those brands, because they link themselves to the brand. For example, in the Britney Spears vs Christina Aguilera rivalry; both were top class pop stars in their prime, they also both represented Pepsi and Coca-Cola respectively, so Pepsi fans used to associate themselves with Pepsi, and Coca-Cola fans with Christina, they felt that they belonged to the community of their favorite singers.

However, another example can be taken on how a company can achieve loyalty programs, Tesco; one of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK.

When Tesco first launched their loyalty cards, they received a lot of positive feedback from their customers and the customers felt that Tesco cared for them, which makes customers to have better experience shopping at Tesco, and they also feel they belong to that place. Those loyalty cards were not only welcomed from the customers, Tesco were also able to collect data and purchasing behavior of their customers, making it better for Tesco in the targeting process, marketing and also merchandizing.

Conclusion...

The power of word of mouth has proven its effectiveness and efficiency along the years. Whether it was positive or negative, it is certain that people will not stop talking about what they love and hate. Whether it was through the traditional way or digitally. The word of mouth travel fast, and perceived as more credible to the consumers. Many companies hire public figures and they try to generate positive word of mouth out of it. However, whether it was positive or negative mouthing, a company could be able to turn it to their favor. Companies can enhance their performance internally in order to attract positive word of mouth from the consumers.

In Pinnacle our marketing strategy services blends all aspects of successful marketing to make sure the word of mouth and our client reputation will work with the company strategy not against. We design, build, and help organizations execute the planned blended marketing on Events, Social media, Digital presence, corporate image etc. and among all … managing the word of mouth.

Pinnacle® is a multi-country consultancy firm. Our consultants are spread around the world coming from the tough developing markets where change is constant; we are diverse organization with 70% of our consultant’s women and many nationalities. We have built our organization on modern business model with agility, diversity, and resilience to the business dynamics. We have chosen our technology platform to support our modern mindset thus we work from anywhere …. As work is not a place anymore. We implement Lean Six Sigma in everything we do whether internally or externally at our client sites. 
This article is written by:
Lilian Nahle
Liliane Nahle
Pinnacle Customer Satisfaction Consultant
Lebanon Business Development Manager
Pinnacle Ltd.

Pinnacle Ltd. is a multi-countries modern consultancy firm, with offices around 11 countries in 4 continents, and 28 consultants working remotely and virtually managed.

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