I was surfing in Spike's world
today and caught this interesting little post about WOM... and the fact that it's still very much misunderstood by a lot of folks. Here's but a wee bit of what Spike had to say on the subject:
"Something’s become obvious to me: people are curious about this whole word(click here for the full post.)
of mouth phenomenon, but think that it’s an add-on that can be separated out of
an identity project, put a price tag on and wrapped up in a nice little package
all the way over here."
Alas, this may be a signal that - just like the relatively abstract meaning of the term brand -
the definition of WOM
is already starting to get all muddled out there in the corporate world.
Thank goodness for Aunt Clarity and her country cousin Repetition.
Okay... so for anyone who still hasn't quite grasped this whole WOM thing, pull up a chair because we're going to go over it in exactly three and a half minutes. (Yes, right
Put your pencils down. All eyes on me.
Take a deep breath.
Are you ready?
Okay, here we go:
There are two main word-of-mouth catalysts (and I don't mean the BzzAgent
kind):1) News-Related WOM:
(Also known as Event-Related WOM
.) For better or for worse, a product launch, a record store redesign, a re-branding coup, a class-action lawsuit or a big corporate merger can generate WOM. PR firms and ad agencies can (and should) play a significant role in facilitating
WOM in these instances.
Yes, you need to think more in terms of actively facilitating
WOM rather than generating
it. (The first is both effective and ethical, while the latter is likely to be neither.)(Generating
and you don't want to go there.)
By itself, news-related WOM doesn't do much to build
a brand, but can - if shepherded correctly - help enhance and clarify it for the public.
News-related WOM sounds like this: "Hey, did you hear about that promotion (...) is doing?" or "Hey, check this out: (...) is going to start selling a hydrogen car completely built out of recycled materials next year" or "(...) won Best In Show again. Isn't it like, five years in a row now?"2) Customer Experience WOM:
Exceptional products, service, and user experiences create WOM. Period.
(Likewise, lousy products, service and user experiences create... um... negative WOM.)
Customer experience WOM sounds like this: "Hey, have you gone into their new store yet? It's the coolest thing." or "Hey, have you seen (...)'s new movie yet? It's incredible!" or "Dude, (...) makes the best cup of coffee I've ever had. You won't believe
how good their stuff is!"
Because this type of WOM happens when customers interact with companies (either through advertising, products or services), it is much more intimately connected with what these companies stand for. (One of the crucial building blocks
of their respective brand
It's really pretty simple: If your company's culture presses you to focus on great customer experiences, chances are that people will talk about that.
However, if your company's culture is one of apathy, poor quality or even arrogance, chances are that people will talk about that too.When it comes to your company's identity, you are what you do, not what you say.
You're either the company that treats people well, or just another company that treats its customers like cattle.
You're either the company that keeps making really cool products every year, or just another company that makes middle-of-the-bell-curve-"same as" products.
You're either the company that keeps its promises, or you're not.
WOM is simply what happens when people talk about their perception of you. If you want some of that "great WOM", all you have to do is... well, give them something great to talk about.
Something exciting, even.
Give your customers the best smelling bar of soap they've ever bought. The most fantastic suit they've ever worn. The most pleasant flight experience of their lives. The most delicious slice of cheesecake in the galaxy. The most pleasant receptionist. The fastest checkout lines. A free toy for their kids with every purchase. The most comfortable shoes in the world. The fastest time-trial bike they've ever raced on.
That's what drives Customer Experience WOM
What you do = who you are. You are either exceptional, or you aren't. You are either WOM-worthy, or you aren't.
So... If you want to get some of that WOM stuff, the question you have to ask yourselves is this:
Did you give your customers something exciting to talk about today?
If the answer is "no," then... what are you going to do about it?Speaking of WOM, click here to find out more about WOMMA's upcoming Basic Training, and here to find out about its very cool auction to raise $20,000 for charity.