Revisiting Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth

If you were born after 2000, you may not be familiar with word-of-mouth marketing.

Suffice it to say that word-of-mouth was a hot topic in the early 2000’s.

According to referral marketing firm Extole, the term is attributed to psychologist George Silverman in the early 1970s. Silverman referred to word-of-mouth (WOM for short) as “teleconferenced peer influence groups”.

A simpler definition: WOM refers to users or fans of a product or service sharing what they like about it. Or don’t. It doesn’t cost a cent….unless you’re paying influencers on social media. And it’s a marketing tool every business should be using.

In their 2003 book, Creating Customer Evangelists, Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell call these happy fans “evangelists”.  Here’s an excerpt from MarketingProfs.

In his 2006 book, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Andy Sernovitz talks about “honest marketing”. Your fans do the work for you, spreading the word about how great your  product is. It’s authentic.

And my personal favorite, Emanuel Rosen’s The Anatomy of Buzz published in 2002. Buzz is the “word-of-mouth magic” that happens when consumers are persuaded by recommendations by friends. Note: a revised copy was published in 2009.

Fast forward to 2022 and a recent Orbit Media Wine & Webinar featuring Jared Spool. His  presentation was titled “That One Weird Trick That Makes Marketing Soooo Much Easier”.

 Keyword: influencers.

The trick? Using word-of-mouth to turn customers into influencers.

Suggestion: go sign up for Orbit’s Wine & Webinars if you want to stay informed and entertained.

Back to Jared Spool.  An author, consultant, speaker and UX (user experience) expert. His job description is “Maker of Awesomeness”. And awesomeness is what he says marketers need to focus on. 

Spool suggests that people are so busy with social media that word-of-mouth (which falls under the social media banner) gets short shrift.

Ever hear of the Kano Model? I hadn’t til I heard Jared.

The Kano Model is a tool that breaks out the way people respond to a product (or service). It’s a way for you to determine customer satisfaction based on three criteria. 

The first criteria is Basic Expectations. As the term suggests, these are features your target market expects. If you’re buying a house, you expect a certain number of rooms, maybe a garage and basic amenities.  

Criteria #2 is Performance Features. These are the satisfiers. For the house you’re buying, central air conditioning and nice landscaping aren’t necessary (basic) but they’re attractive.

Criteria #3 is Excitement Features. And these are just that – exciting. They elicit WOW! reactions and delight the user. In your house hunt, a glam marble bathroom with a jacuzzi, soaking tub, heated floors and a big walk-in shower fall into this category.

Delight, The Ultimate Tool

The goal is to “enhance performance and increase customer satisfaction with features your customers will be delighted with”. Survey Monkey does a  good job of explaining how it works. 

A Positive User Experience (UX)

Whether you call it UX (user experience) or CX (customer experience), it’s basically the same.  

  • Figure out how to delight your customers.  
  • Make their lives better.  
  • Solve a gnawing problem.  
  • Exceed their expectations (or what Kano calls Basic Expectations).

Happy customers share their experiences. So do unhappy customers but that’s for another post.

Applying the KANO model.

Have you been delighted? Think about the last time you were delighted by a product or service.  I

I’ll start. I went into my local hardware store looking for a plant moisture probe. I knew they would have it cause they’re my “go to” neighborhood store and they have above and beyond what most hardware stores have. 

This time, however, the product was out of stock. So much for my Basic Expectations. 

But this store knows how to exceed expectations. The salesperson headed over to the computer, located the product I needed, ordered it for me and told me they’d send a text when it was in. An hour later, I had a text telling me it would be in next Thursday for me to pick up.

On Wednesday,  I got a phone call saying it was in the store and I could pick it up. Promise a customer something. Then exceed that promise.

According to the KANO model, this store’s service is above and beyond a basic expectation. So of course, I’ve already told more than a few people that it’s the best hardware store I’ve ever been to.

That said, the same word-of-mouth also works to hurt your company if you fail to satisfy a customer’s basic expectation. 

The customer who goes into that hot new Italian restaurant and has bad service and/or cold food will share that bad experience with anyone who asks how it was. 

A bad experience spreads like wildfire on social media. Think of all the restaurants that closed during COVID. The ones that were able to keep customers happy survived. The ones that didn’t have enough staff closed. And the internet became more important than ever for sharing experiences. And for cheerleading.

If you’re not currently using word-of-mouth marketing, add it to your marketing plan for 2023. 

Related Blog Posts

How to deliver a remarkable customer experience

  

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 5 reasons why you should add visuals to your marketing.

woman pointing to the 5th of 5 yellow stars to signify successful marketing

We know that social media posts with visuals outperform text-only posts. 

But visuals enhance other forms of marketing as well. As visual creatures, we enjoy reading or skimming material which contains graphics and images.

In fact, according to this post in Polls Everywhere, visuals increase the desire to read content by 80%. With a reach like that, can you afford NOT to use visuals in your marketing? Hardly.

Get Creative.

Smart marketers employ a variety of different types of visuals to spice up content — photos, graphics, banners, Infographics, charts, videos, clips or gifs.

The type of product or service you’re selling will generally inform the type of visuals you use. But as long as it helps clarify your copy and grab the reader’s eye, there’s no reason why you can’t get creative and try a type of visual you haven’t used before. Play with colors and shading. Do something none of your competitors are doing.

Head over to Content Marketing Institute to see some excellent examples of companies that have nailed visual content.

Since we also like material laid out in an easy-to-scroll format, here are 5 reasons why you should add visuals to your marketing.

  1. Readability.
    Blocks of text are not only boring, they’re intimidating. Not the reaction you’re looking for when you publish a new article or blog post or launch a new website.Blocks of text are not only boring, they’re intimidating. Not the reaction you’re looking for when you publish a new article or blog post or launch a new website. Your content might be groundbreaking, but that’s irrelevant if people don’t read what you’ve written. Adding visuals breaks up copy making it more compelling to read and easier to scroll.“Every aspect of your website must account for each user’s wants and needs at a given moment in time.” Alan Smith, Usability Geek
  2. Reach.
    Some people really don’t like to read. And with the success of YouTube, they don’t have to. They prefer to learn via video. Others respond better to visuals than to text.What to do? “People are 80% more likely to read content if it’s paired with colorful visuals.” Tara Johnson, “How Visual Marketing Works”.So if you want to reach the broadest audience you can, make sure you incorporate visuals (and videos where appropriate) into your copy.
  3. Retention.
    According to this post titled “7 tips for using visual content marketing,” from Social Media Today, people remember visual information 6x better than the information they have read or heard. Since you’ve taken the time to write your content, why not make it as easy as possible for people to absorb it.
  4. Impact.
    Ideally, you want your copy to have an impact on your readers. You want them to follow you, refer you, quote you, or  hire you. Or share how terrific you are on social media.  Adding visuals to your content helps make that happen.In this article from eLearning Industry titled “Visual Learning: 6 Reasons Why Visuals Are The Most Powerful Aspect of eLearning,”  author Dana Jandhyala states ““Powerful images and visual metaphors create strong impressions and lasting memories in learners.”
  5. Interest.
    Illustrations or photos support your content and enhance copy so it’s more interesting.  From PR Daily, “visual content gets viewed 94% times more than content without any visuals” according to a 2018 Social Media Examiner report. May 24, 2018

    Ready to mix up your marketing?

If your marketing efforts haven’t resulted in sufficient new business, try putting some of these tips into play.  And start to pay attention to how and what YOU read (and react to). Odds are that visually void content is not something you’re really reading either.

Learn more about how to make your website compelling.

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Why Marketing Matters More Than Ever

why you need to market your business

It happens often. We meet with a business owner who’s struggling to build sales but won’t commit….or hasn’t set aside…. any money for marketing.

How does that work, you ask? Well, it doesn’t.

Our main business is building websites. But we approach web design and development with a marketing mindset because our team has a marketing background.

So before we start building anything, we sit down and talk to you about goals for your business and what you want your new site to accomplish. We’re building a big beautiful online marketing tool for you. It just happens to be called a website.

For people to find your website, a few things need to happen:

  1. It needs to be optimized for search (SEO) so that Google brings your site up when someone searches for your product or service.
  2. You also need to send people to your site.
    You can do this through social media, advertising (print or digital or both), PR, flyers, brochures or handouts, newsletters, emails, direct mail (like postcards), signage, premiums, business cards that you pass out at networking events, etc.

All of the suggestions in item #2 fall under the marketing umbrella. It’s what drives your business and builds your sales. No marketing = not much business.

why you need to market your business
marketing matters

So back to the “no money for marketing” scenarios.

A few examples stand out. One was a man who hired us to build a website for a small gym he had purchased and was renovating. His target market was personal trainers who would use the gym to work with private clients or people who weren’t comfortable at a big gym but needed some sort of coaching. That idea sounded solid and well thought out.

We built a drop dead gorgeous site (OK, so we’re a little biased). But it was sleek and sexy and did everything it was supposed to do. It was easy for visitors to get the info they needed and the messaging was clear and concise.

This was not your one-size-fits-all super gym. It was a small facility — a former house with a beautiful river view, where you could train relatively privately, and then go out in the back yard to relax after your workout. We loved the whole concept. This gym was a little gem.

Until the business model changed.

Classes were added, a few at first, then a lot. Yoga and bar work and meditation. Then floor work and Zumba. Now the “small gym for serious workouts” took on a “me too” slant. Fearing he was missing out on another market (women), the owner modified the original positioning.

Bad move.

Not only were there a bunch of hot new boutique-y gyms in the area, but the larger gyms like FFC, CrossTown Fitness and Equinox were doing great marketing and had huge name recognition. Not to mention swimming pools, running tracks and lots of classes at convenient times.

Our client had not allocated any money for marketing. There was no money for signage which made it difficult to find the place. There was no money for social media (he attempted to do some himself but since he had no idea about how social media worked, that never went anywhere). There was no money for publicity or promotions of any kind. 7 months after we completed the website, he sold the business.

We were bummed because we couldn’t show this gorgeous site in our portfolio. But the client was happy to get out without losing his total investment.

We hate to see this happen. Our goal with each project is to give clients a solid marketing tool that will help grow their business. Seeing a client fail makes us sad.

We use examples like this when talking to new business owners to make sure they’re budgeting wisely and not putting the proverbial “all their eggs in one basket”. Your website can be the most important marketing tool in your arsenal. But don’t let it be the only one.

SEO competition gets tougher every day. Unless you’re able to do considerable digital advertising (as in spending big bucks), you need to stand out any way you can. Good marketing can always help you stand out.

If you’ve got marketing chops and can handle it on your own, run with it. If not, make sure there’s money set aside to hire the experts you need.

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Time management tips to make you more productive.

Some people are naturally efficient when it comes to time management. Engineers come to mind. They think logically and linearly.

Our team is heavy on creatives, and creativity and efficiency do not necessarily play well together.

Our thinking processes tend to lean towards wandering. So, if we’re having a company meeting, a finite agenda keeps us on track. Pretty much.how to save time

We HAVE found some tools that help us work more efficiently. Some of you might find them valuable, so we thought we’d share them.

Facilitating Communications
Our hands-down favorite tool is a tool called Slack. After dealing poorly with unwieldly email threads, we (ok, Steve) discovered this super well-designed communications tool, and we all love it.

Slack lets you organize internal conversations into channels – by project, client or topic. You can create private channels (we use these for proprietary client work) or have open channels if you want to add someone to a particular project – handy if you subcontract people to work on specific jobs but don’t want to give them access to all your channels.

You can search, comment, direct message one another and easily add files, documents, videos and images by a quick drag & drop. It also allows you to share documents from Dropbox and Google Docs, and make voice or video calls from within Slack.

One of the best features allows you to get an alert as soon as someone comments or adds an update in one of your channels. We find this super useful when we’re brainstorming, working on proposals, designing and building new websites, preparing seminars, or need a quick answer from one another. It allows us to work remotely in real time. And no more checking inboxes multiple times throughout the day.

Other than the occasional wandering off topic (hey, we said we’re creatives), Slack keeps us focused while saving at least an hour a day that was formerly spent on email.

Reference Repository
Creatives tend to find lots of material to help them be more creative. Interesting design ideas. Unusual color palettes. “How to” articles. Research for upcoming blog posts. Keeping all that information organized can be challenging. Eventually all the bookmarks you save end up being deleted rather than referenced.

Enter iCyte. iCyte is a web research management tool that lets you save web pages and pdfs with all elements, including links, intact. You can also highlight content of particular interest allowing you to quickly find important elements.

Save cytes under topics you create — we like to set up projects by client or type of reference material. You can also add tags for easy searching and any notes you might want to keep. When you’re ready to retrieve pages you’ve cyted, simply go to the iCyte dashboard to easily find what you’re looking for. You can also share cytes with colleagues, clients or friends.

Streamlining Social Media
Organizing material you want to share on social media can be very time-consuming. Especially if you use multiple social media channels.

We currently limit our WAGW social media to Twitter and Facebook, a schedule that’s pretty easy to manage. But one of us uses multiple social media tools, adding LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest to the mix. She recommends Buffer for managing and scheduling tweets and posts and tracking analytics. It’s easy to use and reliable.

If you’ve been struggling with time management issues, we hope these tips can help. And if you’ve found any tools that you love, please let us know and maybe we’ll share them in an upcoming post.

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