By Laia Cardona, on 18 April 2016
You won't even believe what I’m about to tell you about the word of mouth technique! Imagine you live in a small village, decades of even centuries before the arrival of the Internet. It is the summer holiday season, and the Grand Circus has arrived in town. What can they do to announce their show? If the director is smart, he will surely parade around the streets with the trailers showing off the elephants, letting the trapeze artists, jugglers and sword swallowers demonstrate a sample of their talents. People will crowd together around them and the neighbors who were lucky enough to see them first will run off to tell their friends: the circus is here! With a little bit of luck, the rumor will spread like wildfire and that same night the tickets will have sold out. Well, even though he might not be aware of it, the director of this imaginary circus is using buzz marketing.
I’m sure you have heard of buzz marketing or other related topics: evangelism, virality or influencers. But do you know exactly what it is and how to make the most of it for your brand? Word of mouth has been around for a very long time, but what never gets old is how well it works. Which is why I would like to tell you today about the secrets of buzz marketing and how word of mouth is great for sales.
What is buzz marketing? (The cool name for “word of mouth”)
Buzz marketing is a technique, the objective of which is generating conversations about a brand; for example, letting a small group of consumers try a sample of a new product so they tell their friends and families. Like this, the consumers themselves become communicators for the brand through their recommendations.
A key concept in this type of marketing are the influencers: people who are experts in a specific topic and whose opinions are much more reliable and widespread than the rest. But we must keep in mind that when it comes to influencing others with our decisions, distance, or lack of it, is very important: it is much more likely for me to influence my significant other than a complete stranger.
Much like so many other classical marketing techniques, word of mouth was reinvented with the dawn of the digital era. So much so, that nowadays we speak of eWOM (eWord of Mouth). Here are some of the tools you can use to integrate buzz marketing into your digital strategy:
- Product recommendations from bloggers and Youtubers. There is pretty much an infinite list of expert YouTube channels who test products to recommend them (or criticize them) to their audience. So much so, that one of the most used marketing techniques is establishing relationships with said influencers to get them to speak positively about our brand. This kind of recommendations is especially popular in cosmetics and beauty sectors (with YouTube “superstars” such as Isasaweis).
- Viral Videos. A tool that has been used to exhaustion over the last few years, sometimes producing truly remarkable results. When well used, a viral video can gain a real snowball effect in which users just cant stop sharing. In some cases, brands play a little mystery game, hiding their identity at the beginning, as in the famous first kiss video from the American brand Wren.
- Social Networks. The objective of having your own company Facebook or Twitter profile should not be just sending out messages like a monologue, but creating a conversation with your followers.
- SEO and SEM. According to Google’s data, online searches are the main source of conversations between consumers, so be sure to position your brand!
How buzz marketing affects sales
According to studies, buzz marketing has a strong influence on purchasing decisions and on the success or failure of the launch of new products. The key to its effectiveness is in the trust it generates, which is why it is more likely to be able to influence consumer behavior. Big brands do not hesitate in using it, as we can see in these known success stories:
- It is said that Guy Kawasaki invented the concept of “evangelism” with the launch of Macintosh. During years, Mac users remained loyal to the brand and defend their products at all cost.
- This company recognizes that its main source of advertising is, in fact, word of mouth, but in order to achieve that, you have to first give people something to talk about. Starbuck achieves this with not just its coffee, but the whole user experience that revolutionized the world of coffee shops: writing the clients name on the cup, the all but infinite options to personalize your order, the goo-natured, smiling disposition of its employees, welcoming atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, customer loyalty cards, etc.
Long story short, there is no doubt that word of mouth has a lot to offer your brand. To make the most of all its benefits, I would like to finish off this article with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (Womma)’s recommendations for you brand to succeed:
- Encourage your users to communicate amongst each other through online forums and social networks.
- Give people something to talk about, with information that can be easily shared and sent and public relations events that will inspire them to tell other about everything they saw.
- Create communities that put users in touch with each other, like online groups, fan clubs and forums.
- Work with influential communities. Identify the influencers in your sector, tell them about your company’s plans and encourage them to share them.
- Investigate and listen to your consumer’s comments, for example, by monitoring comments on social media, or surveys.
- Stimulate conversation by launching a company blog and social network channels and regularly updating them.
Good luck, and spread the word!!