I am currently reading the Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, a book by George Silverman, which I borrowed from the National Library. Fascinating stuff in there with some explanation of how one can make Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing work.
Let me highlight two key learning points. First is the Buying Decision Process. Those who studied Marketing 101 may be familiar with this. The stages are as follows:
Stage 1: Deciding to Decide – Going from disinterested to actively investigating your product/ service.
Stage 2: Choosing among Options –
a) Identifying them
b) Studying them
c) Weighing the pros and cons
Stage 3: Trial – Observing the product/ service in use and evaluating its performance
Stage 4: Purchasing/ Implementing/ Using – Becoming a real customer (yeah, the cash only moves at this stage!)
Stage 5: Expanding Use and Recommending – Becoming a regular and perhaps even an advocate of the product or service
Next up would be the actual Word Of Mouth (WOM) process. According to Silverman, it goes like this:
1) Figure out why someone should buy your product/ service in the first place, and do it from his or her perspective as a customer. What are your unique selling points? What makes your product or service especially valuable? See also my earlier entry on Purple Cows.
2) Single out the predominant adopter type (s) that you need to be going after – innovator, early adopter, middle majority, late majority, laggard – in your various markets. This is related to the product life cycle. Generally speaking, a recently launched product will be more popular with innovators and early adopters compared to one which has been in market for some time.
3) Study the crucial decision stages (see above) specific to your product. In other words, will the pre-purchase stages of decision making be more important or the post-sales experience?
4) Develop the actual content – words or ideas that trigger WOM – that you need to accelerate the process. This depends on who your target audiences are. Innovators will be more interested in something far out and new, while the late majority and laggards will prefer more risk free and safe approaches.
5) Determine the sources, channels and delivery mechanisms of WOM that will be most convincing and motivational. There are some 30 different ways (yes, its not just blogs and emails!) to harness this. They include anything from expert roundtables, seminars and workshops, videos and audios (vodcasts and podcasts?), testimonials, call centres, PR, advertising, WOM incentive programmes (“tell-a-friend”), forums, emails and so on.
6) Create and implement the WOM campaign. This is where the rubber meets the road.
WOM is easier said than done I suppose. Still, it may be worth a try for anybody in the business of marketing.