Anyone in business will know that the holy grail of marketing success is “word of mouth”. Companies strive to create a customer experience that gets more and more people talking about them in a positive way, in broader and broader circles. But how does word of mouth happen, what can businesses do to ensure it happens, and where should it fit in the grander scheme of all things marketing?
First, a few terms which many will be familiar with, and some will be hearing or learning about for the firs time – three types of media that you’re probably already employing, but which warrant further scrutiny:
If you’re employing any kind of advertising, to feed prospects into your marketing funnel, then you’re using paid media. Advertising for many businesses in the online era has become more about PPC and the kind of social ad platforms provided by Facebook and Linkedin. Promoted Tweets fit into the same category, yet there’s a sweeping trend of apathy towards advertising, on the part of the consumer. The average person on the internet high street knows which listing are ads, that they’ve paid to be there, and that those who take the trouble to grow awareness organically, deserve more attention. People don’t trust advertising – a situation made even more prevalent by the immediacy with which we can garner recommendations and referrals from our peers, online.
Owned media is everything you create yourself, to promote you products and services, including your website, Facebook Page, Twitter account, and any mobile applications you might be fortunate enough to have built. Your own print materials are owned media, too – so this is in effect you talking about yourself, to others. It’s a great way of informing and educating your target audience – in fact, the savvy business is using the owned media opportunity to educate alone, and to never sell. Attraction or “Pull” marketing is all about having prospects beating down your door to buy, rather than you having to drag them in off the street. Still, this is far from the word of mouth you seek.
This refers to everything other people are saying about you – be it recommendations, reviews, or just chit-chat in the street. In the modern era, though, we are surrounded by opportunities to fuel earned media about us and our organisation – it may even surprise you to learn of some very simple, yet obvious examples of earned media, which many enjoy every day. Here are some to consider:
- Comments on your Blog
- Backlinks to your website
- Follows, Likes, +1′s, Repins … You get the message
In more extreme cases, you’ll have whole blog posts and articles dedicated to you and your offering – this is the kind of PR that many pay thousands for, and yet the social media age has made it commonplace. Social sites fuel earned media, so my advice to you is to make it easy for this word of mouth to happen! Do you have a blog, and if so, do you allow comments? Do you have comments awaiting approval, that could be helping to add to your credibility as a company? Are you leveraging those ne follows, likes, +1′s, etc? Do you connect with those that have openly expressed a liking for what you’re creating?
At the heart of a business that benefits from great word of mouth and PR, is a great business that serves it’s customers well. Social media cannot help a rotton business, but rather amplifies the things that people are saying – be it good or bad. The best thing is, however, that you get to decide which it is!