Think back to the last time you booked a hotel or wanted to try a new restaurant. Did you ask a friend about places they stayed while traveling or read online reviews about a local hot spot?
Today, people are spreading their opinions about products and services more quickly than ever. They’re using a larger variety of mediums, reaching a much larger audience and developing trust-filled relationships with other consumers. When making decisions, consumers are looking to others, like themselves, for experiences and opinions. With an increase of technology at our fingertips, word of mouth (WOM) has exploded across the virtual world, greatly extending the reach of consumers’ opinions.
Recognizing that WOM is an increasingly powerful tool, PR and marketing professionals have begun leveraging this natural habit the form: Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM).
WOMM takes place when a brand or company gives people something to talk about as well as a venue through which they can easily communicate. By introducing a new product or announcing a partnership between with a charity or celebrity, the organization is handing consumers something to buzz about. Some companies also create blogs or forums where people who are interested particularly in their brand can converse.
So how do consumers get wind of these buzz worthy bits? WOMM is often an extension of a PR or marketing effort, such as a news article, blog, commercial or magazine ad. The best WOMM efforts are usually fully-fledged campaigns.
For instance, when Burger King decided they were in need of some extra buzz, they launched the “Whopper freakout” campaign. During this campaign, Burger King discontinued the Whopper, crossing it off all menus, and installed hidden cameras to capture the responses of loyal customers when they came to realize that their beloved burger was no longer available.
This campaign generated discussions, fired up emotions and demonstrated the value that Burger King brings. At first, customers were disappointed and frustrated when their favorite meal was missing, creating a huge amount of buzz. Then, after the hoax was revealed and customers were relieved, even more buzz spread exposing the campaign and welcoming back the beloved Whopper. Quarterly sales saw a huge increase as well (once the Whopper was reintroduced).
WOMM campaigns are usually bold and seemingly outrageous, creating a large amount of Facebook statuses, tweets and hashtags, and face-to-face conversations that include the brand.
So why spend should organizations spend time and money on WOMM? More than 50 percent of purchasing decisions are made based on WOM, making it the strongest influence on a consumer’s decisions. Launching a WOMM campaign is an offbeat way to generate publicity about a brand and shape shoppers’ choices.