Word of Mouth: The Revolutionary Marketing Tool

Written by: Corinne Ivari & Carlota Masferrer-Font

The Festival of Marketing can always be a daunting experience. It is overwhelming, crowded, and one can easily get lost in the middle of all the events happening at the same time. In all truth it is a crazy two-day experience. That is why clever planning is extremely important. There are so many great speakers, one ultimately wonders: ‘what should I attend?’ – We decided to sign up to talks in different themes: AI, Brand & Creative, Personalisation, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation, Multichannel, and Insight (quite a lot indeed). However diverse these panels’ themes were, we found they all shared one in common: Word of mouth is a business’ best marketing tool. In order to gain client referrals, a brand needs to build trust with its customers by being consumer-centric.

Always Be Human First

In, The Power of Human Connection at Scale, Penny Wilson (CMO of HootSuite) and Dominic Chambers (Global Head of Digital Marketing at Jaguar) explain the importance of brands being Human First for positive business results. The speakers broke this out into two action points:

1. Be Customer Centric

  • Listening to customers
  • Personalising relevant content

2. Empower the organisation

  • Educating/training/building advocacy for internal employees

It is no longer about telling a story to consumers, but letting them lead the way, by listening to their needs and what they think about a brand. By focusing on Human First, a brand becomes consumer-centric which leads to brand loyalty and trust.

It’s all about trust

In his panel, Andy Cockburn (CEO & Co-Founder of Mention Me), discusses the osmosis effect of client referrals based on brand trust. Age affects who a consumer believes in terms of recommendations (bloggers, celebrities, friends and family, etc.) However, references from a friend are most valued across all ages. If a client trusts a brand, they will want to recommend it to their friends and family. Loyal and trusting consumers will go through two main filters before recommending a brand:

  • The reputation filter: is this brand good enough for me to recommend it?
  • The relevance filter: is this useful for my friend?

Subconsciously this filter works both ways. The person receiving the recommendation knows these two filters check the boxes. Once the referral is made, the current customer shares the positive brand experience but also the brand trust and loyalty. Word of mouth is key for business success as the brand freely obtains the prospective clients’ trust.

‘We require a collaborative ‘borderless’ culture to thrive’ – Andy Upton

Within the realm of Human First, a brand/organisation must go beyond training, educating, and building advocacy internally. Andy Upton, a keynote speaker from OMD EMEA, presents 8 great tips to further empower organisations in a multi-channel world. These complement the Human First ideas mentioned above perfectly. The 8 tips are:

  • Keep the team together (minimise turnover, maximise motivation)
  • Be human (understand cultural differences, have empathy)
  • Don’t deviate from the mission (write it as a one liner and keep it handy)
  • Have a Ways of Working, process, or even better, an OS
  • Merchandise success & socialise working via technology
  • Go where the energy is
  • Meet face to face to face almost to the point of being painful
  • If in doubt, over communicate

Andy goes further in his analysis of improving organisations by saying ‘hire for attitude, train for skills’. Armed with these tips, organisations can further their Humans First philosophy to build brand trust and ultimately generate organic word of mouth.

We ended the Festival of Marketing with a truly inspirational panel ‘A Mission Driven Start-up’ conducted by Nilan Peiris (VP Growth, Transferwise) and Tom Hillman (Social Manager, Transferwise). Transferwise is the perfect example showcasing how word of mouth is a business’ best marketing tool. As a relatively new organisation, Transferwise very quickly understood the importance around word of mouth. They realised most of their clientele comes from referrals and this has become their focus in media and marketing. They create relevant, thumb stopping content on social media, target their current customers, and let them lead the show. The current customers share these posts with friends and family, they engage with the content and leave riveting reviews online. Transferwise carefully listens to their clients to continuously improve their customers’ experience, which in turn delivers more word of mouth. A real success story.

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