Better than Buzz? Building Word-of-Mouth Advertising

There is a lot of uproar about building buzz and getting your brand out there. While you definitely want people to be talking, you may be better served to look for word of mouth rather than buzz. It’s true that the two concepts are very similar, but it is important to make the distinction and target your efforts accordingly.

An advertising campaign that gets people’s attention will create conversation and build buzz, but if the conversation does not involve your key customers or brand ambassadors–choose your favorite lingo–advertising to others for you, then your buzz has not evolved into word of mouth. Engineering word of mouth usually takes a combination of a few factors: having a quality product or service; building great relationships with your customers; not being afraid to let your audience have a stake in the conversation; and of course a little creativity.

Ways to Foster WOM

  • Levy distribution- Great products that people love should be sold year-round right? Not always! Sometimes holding back can get word of mouth started. Take McDonald’s for example. They are currently selling the McRib Sandwich nationwide. This pork patty has a cult-like following that promotes the product almost as much as McDonald’s does. There are websites, blogs, social media accounts and all kinds of other outlets where sandwich aficionados spend their time promoting the sandwich to others for no return. Part of the mystique is wrapped around the fact that distribution is limited both chronologically and geographically.
  • Make friends- When people really like your business, they will convince others to like it as well. You can do this with follow-up thank-you cards, remembering specific things about them (this shows you took the time to identify them as people and not just customers) or by simply providing the best customer service possible. Make people happy, make them remember you and then wait for new customers who tell your sales staff that they were referred.
  • Pay for it- Paying for referrals can help build word of mouth. You can offer coupons, discounts or anything else that you think your current customer base might like. This tactic is best used in combination with one of the other suggestions, though, as your ambassadors will need some substance for their sales pitch aside from “I am getting a discount.” Aside from compensated referrals, you can also give free products and services away to your ambassadors to keep them happy and involved.
  • Start a conversation- Talk to your customers. Ask what they think about your business or what you could change to make it better. People like to have input and feel as if they are being listened to. Do more than make them feel that way–actually listen. Aside from the value of feedback from your best customers, you will be establishing a relationship that can lead to word of mouth in the future.
  • Give up some control- If you want people to advertise for you for free, you have to understand that some of it is going to be on their terms. Don’t regulate word of mouth just because you would rather see different verbiage or timing. You can always get involved at some point, but keep it casual and always let the customer do the talking. Coca Cola has one of the most fanned Facebook pages out there and guess what…they didn’t start it and the original ambassadors still maintain it.

As culture, communication platforms and business go through changes, word of mouth will evolve. The one variable that is likely to remain constant is that word-of-mouth advertising will be gold for marketers. If you are interested in finding out more about how to get the conversation started for your business, you would be best served to look for marketing expert who can walk you through the process.


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