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Word Of Mouth As A Marketing Tool

Nov 21, 2007
Even in today's world, when the consumer is bombarded with a large number of messages through the media at all times, communication still takes place in the most powerful way through human contact and, in particular, through the human voice. People are more likely to trust those who are known to them. When those people recommend or endorse certain services or products, because their experience with these services or products has been positive, it can be termed as word of mouth marketing.

Potential consumers, it has been found, tend to believe information received from other people more than that provided in advertisements or brochures. Slogans and campaigns elicit a lot of distrust as well as fatigue among people. This could be because the information offered in these is packaged in a particular way and is not provided straight up.

So, for any communications effort to be successful, a word of mouth component has to be an integral part of it. More traditional channels of communication like direct mailers and the electronic as well as print media can, of course, complement word of mouth marketing, even as these cannot replace it.

Word of mouth can be employed not only by the customer service and marketing functions of an organization, but by any of the stakeholders, in order to articulate its mission. This can be used to its advantage, even further, by communicating the strategies clearly to all concerned, so that the message is passed on unambiguously, whenever they speak to others among their family members, friends, business associates, in addition to customers.

The organization's values can be demonstrated and information can be shared with customers or clients, every time any member of the organization or any of its affiliates interacts with them. They should not only be provided with sufficient information, in order to acquaint them with the organization, but also treated with dignity and respect. Besides sharing the latest happenings related to the organization and its plans for the future, they should be asked for their views and opinions regarding areas where they see scope for improvement and all that the organization appears to be doing well for them. In addition to questions being asked, they should also be listened to properly, especially about the needs that they expect to be fulfilled by the organization's services or products.

Such exchanges can lead to:

1. Learning, as a result of interaction with the customer
2. An opportunity to acquaint the customer with vital information
3. An opportunity to build a relationship with the customer

Being honest and, therefore, believable, is the primary criterion for the success of word of mouth marketing. This implies that the organization delivers all that it promises to and all messages emanating from it are clear and accurate. It also implies that all interactions are respectful and, yet, straightforward, even when everything does not happen according to plan and that the customers' inputs are valued by the organization at all times, including when a situation involves conflict.

A vital role that word of mouth can play is to obtain information that may not be available at all through other sources. Every member of a business organization who comes in contact with existing or prospective clients or customers has the opportunity to glean such information from them.

It is important to understand that all organization members should be involved in brand building, since the brand is impacted by how other people, especially customers or clients, existing or prospective, are treated by them. This is on account of the fact that rather than brands that are inanimate, people tend to be more loyal to fellow human beings and their loyalty to a brand can be affected to a very large extent by their loyalty towards the people who represent that brand, at least for them. A brand's success, obviously, is directly proportional to the number of repeat customers that it can attract.

Every instance in which an organization member interacts with a client or customer is an opportunity to capture information that can be more credible for prospective clients or customers than any of the company's slogans. Permission can be requested from the clients or customers to share stories of success with availing of the company's services or using its products. Additionally, referrals can be sought and followed up with due diligence. A brand being recommended by one person to others can have immense positive impact.
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