The first tool in the prehistoric marketer’s proverbial tool belt was language and voice. One can imagine that, in the early days of human civilization, marketing was primarily through word of mouth. The location, quality, price, and availability of a certain product or service could be only learned by direct verbal contact with the actual purveyor, or someone who had been in their direct contact. You knew Sven had axes and they were the sharpest – because Sven told you so.
If you could master what has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing—the one that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to drive sales for your company — would you instead choose to ignore it or leave it to chance?
Why would you simply choose to sit back and hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand? If you want to win the marketing race in 2015, you need to unleash the power of word of mouth.
In ancient China, between 11th and 7th century BC, there is evidence that oral poetry and bamboo flute jingles were used to sell candy. Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece, ladies of the night wore studded sandals that produced clicking sounds and left unique tracks that clientele could follow. Later, in Europe, as cities grew and central marketplaces developed, town criers were used to advertise the location of certain merchants and if they had any deals.
The problem is that for the last few years, marketers have been focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting.” In other words, brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who signed up just to win a free iPad from you.
Marketers used to focus on the 4 P’s. You probably had them drilled into your head as you pursued your marketing degree. Well, now marketers need to focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip, Empower. If you can master these, you can become the most beloved and talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. We’ve seen a good WOMM campaign generate thousands of conversations, recommendations and triple sales in just a year (yes, even for the boring products).
As mentioned earlier, it’s quite obvious that word-of-mouth marketing is still incredibly important for marketers today. One can argue that the new advent of Social Media marketing is just an extension of the kind of marketing communication used by the earliest producers and consumers. Influencers on Twitter and Facebook could still be considered town criers, for instance – their opinions and statements have a direct impact on their audience. The only difference is that their messages have exponential reach, thanks to the amplifying effect of the Internet.