The Fundamental WOMM Truth

Marketers wanting to tap into the power of word of mouth marketing to increase brand awareness, preference, and purchase eventually learn a fundamental truth. This truth is simply, “Marketers do not decide what gets talked about. People decide.”

Studies clearly indicate word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. According to research from McKinsey & Company, word of mouth is responsible for up to 50% of all purchase decisions.

Studies also indicate there are seemingly endless ways to spark word of mouth conversations. The Keller Fay Group has been tracking conversations people have about brands since 2006. Their findings tell us 22% of all conversations people have about brands, products, and services are sparked by advertising. However, the vast majority of word of mouth conversations, 78% of them, are sparked by something else.

Which means… the playground for marketers wanting to trigger word of mouth from customers about brands is HUGE.

Anything and everything a customer can “touch” is an opportunity to spark a conversation. Every customer touchpoint is a possible talking point.

And since people, not marketers, make the decision about what gets talked about, it’s up to marketers to give people something to talk about at every customer touchpoint.

It's time to think about all the associations your service brings to your customer's mind.

For example, any restaurant that uses a “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign from a restaurant supply catalog has given up on being talk-able. This sign is one of the first customer touchpoints someone will experience inside a restaurant. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase a brand’s unique personality by creating a custom sign that expresses the uniqueness of the restaurant.

Chevrolet was one of the most talked about brands at the 2011 SXSW Interactive Conference. They accomplished being talk-able by giving conference attendees something to talk about at various touchpoints. There were Chevy Volt-branded recharge stations throughout the Austin Convention Center for attendees to recharge all their electronic gadgets. Attendees needing a ride to someplace in downtown Austin could hop into Chevy Cruze and be shuttled free of charge. You could get a 360-degree picture taken of you and your friends at the Chevy Sonic photo booth. Prior to the start of SXSW, Chevy sponsored 10 teams on a scavenger hunt road trip from their hometowns to the conference in Austin. Of course, Chevy was all over social media during the conference with the much-used hashtag of #ChevySXSW. By far, Chevy was the most talk-able brand at the 2011 SXSW Interactive Conference because they gave people reasons to talk at various touchpoints.

Starbucks has long practiced the idea of giving people reasons to talk by earning opinions from customers at every touchpoint. One of the simplest ways Starbucks earns opinions from customers is by deliberating calling their drink sizes Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti. The easiest (and least talk-able) decision would be to use Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large as their drink sizes. But there’s nothing interesting in the mundane.

The most word of mouth worthy brands take common customer touchpoints and make them uncommonly talk-able.

What touchpoints can your business make interesting to get customers interested enough to make your brand talk-able and worthy of word of mouth?

Want to read more? Here’s the articles cited in this blog:

About Welt’s Guest Blogger

John Moore was formerly in marketing at Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market. He now works as a marketingologist with the Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice.

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