Why word of mouth marketing is a long haul

By Ted Wright May 30, 2019

long haul

By Scott Jenson

We’ve all heard the cliché phrase “Rome was not built in a day.” Often used to call for reasonable expectations when something isn’t happening fast enough, and when used in marketing you can be sure that it is attached as an appeal to patience. This phrase is never more relevant than when applied to WOMM, which in most cases is a long term investment.

The long haul

What we’ve proven here at Fizz is that WOMM works, but it isn’t a quick fix. If you’re expecting a pop in online sales to spike almost immediately as you would with a typical conversion-focused digital, social, or broadcast campaign, then you’re bound to be disappointed.

And so, if you’re calculating ROI on a WOMM program, where the majority of your positive cash flows will not be seen until 2-3 years in the future, you simply need to be in it for the long haul. Rome (or any city, for that matter) was not built in a day (or year), and neither will a rabid, evangelizing group of advocates. This is why every marketing program must be financially evaluated in a relevant manner.

While there are many similarities between how WOM works on consumers, the models used for tracking churn and advocacy are mostly built for mass media and CRM. While we can appropriate those models, it will not give you a realistic financial model for a WOMM program and can lead to unrealistic expectations.

Advantages of patience

But let’s get back to Rome, what’s remarkable about the Italian capital is that the city has withstood millennia of wars and political shifts to still be a relevant cultural power. Rome is still standing to this day, thousands of years after being built. The colosseum still stands and accepts visitors, aqueducts once used to carry water to the city and the surrounding area are still in use today, and Roman road systems can still be traveled on.

This is not by accident. The only reason that many of the architectural triumphs of Rome still stand are because of the care and great skill, and extensive planning, that went into their construction. These were not simple projects completed for short term use, the people who built these structures intended to get maximum ROI from their construction; even if that ROI came years after putting the final blocks into place.

Fast forward to the present day. As a profit center and tourism driver Rome remains one of the top tourist destinations in the world. In 2017, Rome hosted an estimated 27 million international visitors. This influx of tourists brought approximately €6.74 billion in revenue to the city, up 20.3% from the previous year.

Here to stay

Although foodies on the prowl for pizza and wine could make up a small portion of tourism dollars spent in the Eternal City, the bulk of what is attracting that level of traffic and revenue is the sheer volume of architectural marvels and art that have stood the test of time. The Romans built for staying power, not expedience.

A WOMM program should be approached the same way, with careful consideration made to planning and implementing, and understanding that this is a long term investment that will pay larger dividends.

If you’re considering a WOMM program I applaud you, you’re taking a huge step towards growing your business. But remember to be patient, these programs take time to create, to put into play, and to create the “buzz” that will lead to sales. Know going into it that you’re creating infrastructure that will support a thriving community for many years to come, much like Rome.

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 of Unsplash.com

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