Word-of-mouth recommendations influenced purchasing decisions for centuries, from buying a new-to-you cheese to finding that "special" restaurant and selecting the right software for your business. It's not surprising that you and your network share a few of the same favorite things. Who doesn't love hearing about a great product or service from a trustworthy source?
83% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust word-of-mouth recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest-ranked source for trustworthiness.
As more brands use organic networks to boost demand for their products and new customer acquisition process, there's much to gain from developing a killer word of mouth marketing strategy (WOMM strategy). The idea of "going viral" is frequently the first thought to enter marketers' minds when strategizing how to harness the power of WOMM. While it would be nice for every single campaign to end up on Mashable or Buzzfeed, marketing by word-of-mouth has invaluable impacts on your brand beyond one-time viral campaigns.
Consumer brands build customer trust by producing flawless store sampling events where consumers experience products. These experiences create brand ambassadors willing to share their opinions about the products or services with their network. Jay Baer shared that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know directly, and anonymous reviewers have a 70% trust rate when they post online about a brand.
Word-of-mouth interactions have impacted businesses for as long as commerce has been around. In today's hyper-social world, word-of-mouth marketing opportunities are in abundance. There's no question that WOM marketing is the best way to engage customers and drive more sales for brands across verticals. How brands engage with their customers quickly changes in tone and strategy. As trust in paid advertising declines, word-of-mouth marketing benefits via social networks and organic reach have become effective ways of leveraging this strategy. The critical thing to remember is that authentic word of mouth is ALWAYS anchored in a personal experience. That is why 90% of people trust suggestions from family and friends. [HubSpot]
However, too many marketers still prefer to rely on the old adage - "Sincerity - if you can fake that, you've got it made." They spent enormous amounts of money devising clever campaigns and hiring celebrity "brand ambassadors" instead of providing real consumers with outstanding experiences of their products, converting them into authentic influencers.
While more and more consumer brands realize the benefits of field marketing efforts, only some traditional retailers appreciate how experiential marketing impacts sales per square foot of their stores. Yet the evidence is plenty. All you have to do is look at which retailers lead the industry in this critical retail KPI, how systematically they host store demo events and their advertising budgets. Since most of these retailers are public companies, the data is not difficult to find in their annual reports. In store demos are valuable no matter the square footage of the store.
Successful artists do not become stars based on a single mega-hit. Those who do not consistently produce successful songs over a long period of time become stars. Brands are built the same way. Those brands that consistently and systematically deliver outstanding customer experiences to the shoppers generate a following and word of mouth that makes them household names and market leaders.
It took KIND to become a multibillion-dollar brand as a result of betting the initial investment in the company in thousands of in-store demos across the country to have millions of consumers to experience the taste of the bars and the message of kindness and healthy eating.
It took Costco millions of store sampling events hosted in every one of their locations over 25 years to reach the top in sales per square foot with a $0 advertising budget.
What makes you think that a hugely viral video, even if watched by a few million people, would make your brand a solid competitor in your market? Why do you think that the stale website of your store and $.50 discount coupon flyers would make consumers come shopping at your store as opposed to one across the street?
Make no mistake, price is important, but customer experience is what makes people talk.