Why you are failing at word of mouth?

You ask your network – that is, family, friends, work colleagues, linkedin or facebook connections, or anything else that constitutes your personal network.

You go online and search

Given that this is the case, does it mean that the only two marketing activities that matter anymore are ‘online’ and ‘Word of Mouth’?

Certainly, there is no doubt that Word Of Mouth has grown in importance since the Web was created. As the Web has made information easily and instantly accessible, we have become empowered and consequently less trusting of advertising. Consequently, we have looked for other trusted sources of information. This has happened as the Web and technology have made us more connected. From mobile text messaging to blogs, forums to social networks and Audioboo to Twitter we now all have a voice, and can share our thoughts and opinions in a way never previously possible.

Most companies still rely on passive Word of Mouth. That is, if you do a good job for a customer they in turn may tell someone else about the product or service. In a world where Word of Mouth is now so important, relying on this passive form is not enough.

Companies today need people to want to talk about them. This means giving them something to talk about or a reason to spread a good word about your business. Simply put, your best sales people today are not those whom you employ, but those who talk about you positively and voluntarily.

This is a challenge for many companies.

The good news is that it does not have to cost money. It will, however, take time, effort and creativity. The best companies today build their marketing into the product or service. In other words, the word of mouth is not something that is bolted on as an afterthought, but intrinsic to the product or service itself.

For example, Facebook or Linkedin are only useful if you are connected to people. No-one wants to be the person on the social site with no friends. Therefore, one of the first things people do when they join these networks is upload their database and invite their friends and colleagues to connect with them. In other words,  the users do the marketing for these organisations.

YouTube is a similar story. When someone posts a clip on YouTube they want it to be seen. Therefore, they immediately send messages to friends and contacts telling them about the video. In this way, they are not  only promoting their own work, but also YouTube itself.

Neither does this have to be exclusively an online phenomenon. In the mid nineties, Photo sticker booths took off in Japan, literally spreading like a virus. Photo stickers are obviously useless unless you stick them somewhere. Every time someone sticks one of these stickers, they are marketing the product.

Innocent Drinks also gave people a reason for people to talk about them when they produced bottles with little wooly hats on, in order to promote their Help The Aged campaign, whereby a certain amount of each purchase was donated to the charity. This led to a website which included instructions on how to knit your own hat. It caught people’s imagination and got them talking.

Whether you are a knowledge based, business to business, white collar service provider, manufacturer, or you sell directly to the consumer, you have to find a way of building word of mouth into what you do. In whichever markets you operate, if you have a business, there must be people who are interested in what you do. If they are not talking about you they will be talking about somebody else.

Quite simply, companies can no longer afford to leave Word of Mouth to chance. It is too important. So how will you build Word of Mouth into your product or service?

Grant Leboff is Principal of The Intelligent Sales Club; working with companies on effective sales and marketing strategies and lead generation; creating a steady stream of sales opportunities for businesses. For more information visit www.intelligentsalesclub.com  or call 0844 478 0044