Word of Mouth Advertising

Mouth studyWe always hear about word of mouth and viral marketing, but does it really work?

Did you know there was a Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA)? They define the basic elements of word of mouth advertising as:

  • Educating people about your products and services
  • Identifying people most likely to share their opinions
  • Providing tools that make it easier to share information
  • Studying how, where, and when opinions are being shared
  • Listening and responding to supporters, detractors, and neutrals

Common types of word of mouth marketing according to WOMMA are:

  • Buzz Marketing: Using high-profile entertainment or news to get people to talk about your brand.
  • Viral Marketing: Creating entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion, often electronically or by email.
  • Community Marketing: Forming or supporting niche communities that are likely to share interests about the brand (such as user groups, fan clubs, and discussion forums); providing tools, content, and information to support those communities.
  • Grassroots Marketing: Organizing and motivating volunteers to engage in personal or local outreach.
  • Evangelist Marketing: Cultivating evangelists, advocates, or volunteers who are encouraged to take a leadership role in actively spreading the word on your behalf.
  • Product Seeding: Placing the right product into the right hands at the right time, providing information or samples to influential individuals.
  • Influencer Marketing: Identifying key communities and opinion leaders who are likely to talk about products and have the ability to influence the opinions of others.
  • Cause Marketing: Supporting social causes to earn respect and support from people who feel strongly about the cause.
  • Conversation Creation: Interesting or fun advertising, emails, catch phrases, entertainment, or promotions designed to start word of mouth activity.
  • Brand Blogging: Creating blogs and participating in the blogosphere, in the spirit of open, transparent communications; sharing information of value that the blog community may talk about.
  • Referral Programs: Creating tools that enable satisfied customers to refer their friends.

Word of Mouth

In a study posted on eMarketer, according to a Nielsen study more than three-quarters of consumers surveyed worldwide find that consumer opinions are the most effective form of advertising. Nielsen surveyed Internet users in 47 markets in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East on their attitudes toward many types of ads, including television, branded Web sites and consumer-generated content.

A similar study conducted by GFK Roper Consulting on the trustworthiness of sources used to make purchases found that consumers rated word of mouth highest with 81% ranking it first with editorial content second at 56% and advertising close behind at 55%.

Need more proof? Respondents to a DoubleClick survey said that a friend’s recommendation was the most important influence when it came to buying a product or service. Men ranked it first at 90% and women ranked it first at 95%.

Two good examples of Word-of-mouth advertising are Gmail and Tupperware. GmailGoogle did no marketing; they spent no money. They created scarcity by giving out Gmail accounts only to a handful of “power users.” Other users who aspired to be like these power users “lusted” for a Gmail account and this manifested itself in their bidding for Gmail invites on eBay. Demand was created by limited supply; the cachet of having a Gmail account caused the word of mouth, rather than any marketing activities by Google.

Tupperware is still sold mostly through a party plan, with rewards for hosts. A Tupperware party is run by a Tupperware consultant for a host who invites friends and neighbors into their home to see the product line. Tupperware hosts are rewarded with free products based on the level of sales made at their party.

Tupperware has been resistant to using the internet, and the company’s national websites remain basic and with very little interactivity. With the exception of the the official My.Tupperware webpages in the US and Canada, Tupperware consultants are not permitted to promote their Tupperware business online, nor may they use any third party website such as eBay or amazon to sell Tupperware products.

Learn more about Word of Mouth marketing by reading WOMMA’s An Introduction to Word of Mouth Marketing.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Wanda says:

    I never knew that about Tupperware. Maybe some day they will get with the times.

  2. TimS says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for this article – a very useful insight. We’ve had a go at modeling the word of mouth process and would be very interested in your comments:


    Many thanks


  3. TimS says:

    Thanks for the article – a great summary of the different WOM methods. Snall businesses can learn a lot here.

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