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Word of mouth: a traditional marketing champion

How do you use WOM in this age

Word of mouth: a traditional marketing champion

Every year there are countless new marketing buzzwords that appear. The strategies continue to evolve and become trendier than ever. Yet there is one undeniable truth that we can’t seem to get rid of: nothing beats word of mouth marketing, shortened to WOM.

Until the day arrives that neuro marketers find the buying button in our brains, word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. This is how we are made. People are group animals that like to talk to each other and influence each other. This is the natural WOM-principle.

Centuries-old and unbeaten

From an evolutionary perspective, it has to do with avoiding risk. Why would you risk getting poisoned by eating unknown berries? But if your neighbour says he had them on the menu yesterday, then they will be okay. This explains why the effectiveness of Word-of-mouth will not diminish soon, even if our world changes. Did you know that opera singers in the 17th century hired audience to shout ‘Bravo !‘ to get the rest of the audience on their feet as well? As a marketing tool this is not new. Only the application and form in which we use it has changed over the years.

From mouth to advertising

On first glance, this natural phenomenon might be hard to use for a targeted application in a marketing area. As people want to talk naturally, is it necessary to encourage them? It is certainly true that without marketers, Word of Mouth is doing the job. However, you can create favourable conditions that encourage WOM. And more importantly: you can influence how they talk about you, and what story is passed on. And this is the power: provide your audience with a good story, limit this clearly, engage and inspire your audience. Be interesting, and most especially, be relevant. Keep in mind not so much what you want to tell, but, above all, what the public wants to hear. Take into account a combination of all the contact moments the customer has with your company: from radio jingles and billboards, to order processes and contact with your customer service for assistance.

Word Of Mouth in a digital age

New media, and especially social media are perfect platforms for WOM strategies. We communicate on these platforms in the same way as we did in the prehistoric times, sharing knowledge around the campfire. With two major differences: the range is infinitely greater, and like-and share-buttons ensure that stories are much easier and faster to share.
There are different approaches available for cranking up WOM. Three of the most important are:

•     Buzz:
Buzz-marketing means that we create a chain effect to get an even bigger buzz about your company or product. It is often through various media or events that small pieces of information are spread so people get very curious about a new product. Apple was once a pioneer in this field, and still lords it over this marketing technique.

•     Viral:
Viral marketing has a chain effect but is more aggressive. It starts from a single point of contact, usually online, for example about a particular video on YouTube, and spreads very quickly from there as a virus.

•     Influencers:

Marketing via influencers starts with contact with a person who has an impact on your target audience. Traditionally these are celebrities and experts who promote or make your product or brand visible. In the digital world, you often see that brands use instagrammers or bloggers to market their products. It is important to keep a close eye on who has influence at what moment, because fame has never been so transient as today.


WOM remains a combination of several factors. The customer will bundle together all their experiences and draw their own conclusion from it before they tell their story. So don’t think of it as a campaign-bound strategy, but realize that it is an ongoing process.

Campaigns are good resources to start the ball rolling. But to have influence on the content of the conversation, it requires constant attention to create favourable framework conditions, outside of the direct marketing field:

•     Deliver consistent quality
•     Provide a consistent service
•     Proclaim a consistent message

By continuously monitoring and adjusting these points, you can deliver a great customer experience that is worth sharing with others.


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