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Word-of-mouth Marketing Will Change Your Business

By: Tina Hedges and Sarah Chung
Posted: September 3, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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2. Creating evangelist or advocate programs. This entails motivating brand advocates and evangelists to actively promote a product—providing recognition and tools to active advocates, recruiting new advocates, teaching new advocates about the benefits of the products and encouraging them to spread the word.

WOM TREND METER: WOM services such as SheSpeaks and BzzAgent are a great way to recruit new brand advocates and engage them into your brand. The initial conversation starter is product sampling, but long-lasting relationships can be formed. SheSpeaks, in particular, provides a private, online discussion board for brands to continue the conversation with consumers. The impact: interacting directly with the brand produces a positive change in the SheSpeaks participants’ opinions, which can be measured before and after the program.

3. Engaging in transparent conversation. Any WOM campaign requires two-way conversation with consumers. Some simple ways to execute include creating blogs and other tools to share information or participating openly on online blogs and discussions WOM TREND METER: Bobbi Brown, L’Occitane and Tarte are some of the beauty brands that are using Twitter to engage with their following.

The Building Blocks of a WOM Campaign

Profitable brands can be built on deploying WOM smartly. The online success of the breakthrough beauty brand e.l.f. Cosmetics is a perfect example. “Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly effective,” says Joseph Shamah, the brand’s CEO. “More than 80% of our customers say they heard about us from a friend.”

So how does a brand build an impactful WOM online or off-line campaign? The following touchpoints all need to be defined before embarking on a WOM brand journey:

  1. Talkers—Who are the ideal brand advocates who will tell their friends about your brand? Define the target group and remember to woo and inspire them to became true advocates for the brand.
  2. Topics—Based on your campaign objectives, define the topics or the message that you want to impress on your advocates.
  3. Tools—What are your campaign mediums? What resources can you galvanize and how can you help the message travel? Agree on the landscape (online, off-line or integrated) and tactics up front. Are you including a viral loop with Facebook and Twitter, for example? What agencies or outside experts do you need to involve in the campaign creation and implementation?
  4. Taking Part—How should a brand owner directly or indirectly join the conversation—while being careful not to be heavy-handed and while giving thousands or millions of potential consumers the forum to discuss your products, amortize the opportunity by listening in or—even better—participating?
  5. Tracking—What are people saying about the brand and company, do you care (you should, good or bad) and how long do you want to listen? Decide on how research will be collected, analyzed, disseminated and utilized to best impact the brand.