We’ve been very successful. Is word of mouth marketing necessary?

By Fizz May 9, 2019

is word of mouth marketing necessary

By Scott Jenson

No, WOMM isn’t necessary for your brand or product to be wildly successful, but Word of Mouth is. Revisionist marketers who are in tune with modern consumer behavior understand that the greatest multiplier for brand awareness and equity is engaging advocates to tell your story, and ensuring that they have the story correct. This is “advertising” that works even when you aren’t, and it can spread to exponential numbers of potential consumers without any incremental spend.

WOMM by the numbers

It has been estimated that Americans mention specific brands between 60X and 90X per week, and 1000 consumers can generate up to 500,000 conversations about your brand. With this level of earned advertising on your side you can take an already successful brand to new levels of sales, and all it takes is curated, talkable moments that can be easily passed on.

Now, we often think about successful marketing strategies as being the most important source for learning, and applying that understanding to crafting the next great strategy for reaching more consumers with a higher level of efficiency. This is not incorrect. However sometimes there are lessons to be learned from gigantic failures as well, or situations where WOM can kill a product, a meme, or even a career. It’s not unusual for a brand to both benefit from positive word of mouth, and also suffer from negative WOM.

Car story

Take the volatility of Tesla Motors over the past few years. In 2017, after years of consumer confidence, Tesla overtook GM as the US’s most valuable automaker with a market cap of more than $50 billion. Unfortunately for the electric car company, 2018 had a set of WOM affecting setbacks including a fatal crash, production delays, and some questionable activity on the part of Elon Musk, that directly affected both the company’s “buzz score” and its stock values. What was once a story of sustainability and advanced technology (and some would say luxury) became stories of Tesla being “unsafe” and “mis-managed.” 2018 should’ve been a great year, but the narrative changed.

After some internal shuffles and riding high on the wave of the announcement of a $35K Tesla Model 3, Tesla appears to be recovering in value and buzz. While the automaker is still building back up the intrinsic value of the company, it appears that the worst is over. The arc of 2018 to mid-2019 should be a cautionary tale, and also an example of how unfettered WOM can make or break a company.

Is word of mouth marketing necessary?

So as you consider how WOM can help you improve your business, look to both success stories and that of failures and you’ll find the true value and necessity of a WOMM strategy. Consumers will be having conversations about brands with or without your brand having an active strategy to create and refine the stories being told. So it’s vital that you ensure they have the right stories to tell. If you can harness the influence of advocates and influence them tell your story, the current growth ceiling for your brand can be easily broken.

Scott Jenson is a marketing manager for Fizz who has worked with iconic national and global brands including Coca Cola, Adult Swim, Kauai Coffee and Primo Water. A Marine Corps veteran, survivor of the music industry in the mid-2000’s, and former holder of many titles with the words “Brand,” “Strategy,” and “Marketing,” Scott holds an MBA from the University of Tampa as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from a tiny college that nobody has ever heard of.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

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