Did you know that your neighbor is your biggest advocate? If only you can tell him what you do, he could potentially help you make a lot of money by way of sales and information. This may take place on the stairway, in an elevator or even places like the gym, a restaurant or the bus stop.
Do you think that what you do in the office is not in demand in your neighborhood? Many marketers will admit to the fallacy since for many, their biggest worry is how to keep the appointments with clients in their downtown offices, how to beat targets set by their supervisors, how to reach millions on TV or publications. Fine, well and good. But what about the free advertising achieved by referrals, by repeat customers and through acquaintances? This is driven in customers by way of social, functional and emotional factors that determine the uptake of such marketing information and need for products. While social and functional drivers of word of mouth advertising are most effective online, emotional ones are most effective offline. If only we assessed the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing advertising…
Credibility of word of mouth advertising is rarely in doubt. The motivation to advertise is not driven by a direct gain by the advertiser. The one telling or writing it does so purely on the conviction that the product or service is good. It would be a referral, so to speak, of a product having used or liked it. It would be done in person, and the likelihood of believing and trying a product referred by someone you have met or know is great. It essentially puts the reputation of the recommender at stake, and nobody takes chances with his (or her) reputation. That is how powerful word of mouth advertising is!
The history of word of mouth advertising originates in the 1970s when psychologist George Silverman noted that “one or two physicians would sway the opinions of other skeptical ones by way of interacting with them.” This was, by way of interacting and thus swaying even dissatisfied prescribers, changes people’s minds about accepting products they did not believe in or at one point even doubted From then on, emphasis was laid on further research of WOM marketing – and is still very powerful to date.
WOM marketing is so powerful that marketers in the US must disclose what relationship and compensation they have with the seller of the product. These requirements safeguard against endorsements by people not knowing about certain products and/or service that they are endorsing.
We are now in the digital age of marketing, which means one can reasonably expect people to take advantage of social media and the internet to gain mileage. Interestingly enough, most of the advocacy takes place offline:
- Talking in person (75%)
- Talking on the phone (15%)
- Online conversations (10%)
From the foregoing therefore, word of mouth marketing is almost irreplaceable. This is because it involves people – marketers pursuing sales and consumers needing goods and services meeting for mutual benefit.