When the consumer is exposed to a surfeit of choices, brands and their advertising campaigns, what really helps making up his mind is valued opinions expressed directly to them. This is not only simple but also free thus, making word of mouth ‘The most effective and inexpensive’ tool of marketing.
A majority of buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth. This is high time when word of mouth is taken as an important medium in communication mix. Word of mouth has much greater influence when the customers are buying for the first time or when the product is very expensive. These two factors lead to people seeking more views of their friends and of the opinion leaders around them.
With the digital revolution its influence has to grow. Digitalization has empowered word of mouth by enhancing its reach from one-on-one communication to a one-to-many. Social networks are the media through which the reviews and opinions are being disseminated to the world these days. Some customers can even go the extent of creating Web sites or blogs to praise or punish brands.
Today we find that the word of mouth marketing is not used to its full potential by leading companies. Only a few companies invest in generating intentional word of mouth, firstly because the effects of word of mouth are difficult to measure and secondly many marketers are unsure if they can successfully create a buzz which can transform into successful campaigns.
There are many ways in which word of mouth starts as a buzz. It most commonly starts when the customer’s has a direct experience of the product or service. The buzz initiates when the experience does not meet the expectation. It is very rarely that people propagate about products or service when their experience matches expectation. If the expectation is not met, a dissatisfied customer can contribute massively to negative word of mouth hurting the brand sentiments.
A buzz can also start when the customer is exposed to traditional marketing campaigns. The buzz can be about the product or the campaign itself. Use of celebrity endorsers is a common method companies adopt to start a positive buzz, especially during product launches
Marketers need to consider both the direct and the pass-on effects of word of mouth when determining the message and media mix that maximizes the return on their investments
There is clearly an art to effective word-of-mouth campaigning. Yet the science behind word-of-mouth helps reveal how to hone and deploy that art. Word of mouth has a huge potential to become a mainstream marketing campaign and must be utilized effectively.
~ Preetdeep Kaur
MBA Batch of 2012
DoMS IIT Madras