What’s the Buzz on Word-of-Mouth Advertising?
By Al McClain
Most marketers these days seem to believe that word-of-mouth advertising is better than traditional media but that it is harder to do and there are pitfalls. Simplified, you have to get consumers talking about your brand or store, and get them talking about you in a good way. Easier said than done, no doubt.
At the recent GMA Merchandising, Sales, and Marketing Conference, marketing executives discussed the
importance of W-O-M marketing, along with the risks. Participating in the discussion were Greg Welch, CMO Practice Leader of Spencer Stuart; Steve Knox, CEO of Tremor/P &
G; and Michael Linton, former Exec VP/CMO of Best Buy.
The discussion focused on the importance of connecting with consumers emotionally so they will spend more and talk about your products and services to their friends. This is especially important in an era when most consumers don’t like the ads they see or don’t want to see ads at all, and because traditional media is missing many consumers. Reaching “connector” consumers – those who love to talk and are seeing “new news” was viewed as being especially important.
A number of successful nontraditional marketing efforts were discussed, such as Best Buy’s irreverent “Mint Brothers” ads which were posted on the web back in the mid to late 90’s; Dawn dishwashing detergent’s campaign revolving around getting kids to do more household chores; and Best Buy’s famous and exclusive Rolling Stones Live DVD event.
One of the cautionary notes sounded about W-O-M advertising is that it can kill your business if consumers turn negative, especially because what consumers HEAR about you will always be different than what they SHARE about you.
The panelists believe that funding for W-O-M needs to come from traditional marketing budgets via a shift in marketing spend, but that is difficult to do because marketers want to measure results using traditional tools that won’t work for this type of activity.
Another problem identified for this industry is that, although retailers have great transactional data, it doesn’t tell retailers why someone bought what they bought, and certainly doesn’t identify what they are saying to their friends.
Discussion Questions: How important is W-O-M marketing to retailers and brands, and how important should it be? How do you measure and define
success for a W-O-M program, especially when pressure is on to spend on promotions that move cases now?
Photo Courtesy of GMA