No clever segway this time. Let’s jump right into it.
Why is it that Apple fans can’t stop talking about Apple, but Vodafone does not have any fans?
Why is it that usually I hesitate to recommend a restaurant to a friend, but I feel quite comfortable recommending ‘Relax’, a fast-food restaurant near my place?
I have been thinking a lot about this lately.
This mysterious thing known as ‘Word of mouth’…
It has been baffling me and amazing me at the same time.
And hence, I bring it up today. To explore, dig deeper, and learn from you. At the end of this email, I have a challenge for you. So hang on till then.
Why is it that people are motivated to talk about your business?
How have some businesses enabled word of mouth?
What is the secret?
But before that, let’s address an objection.
“Bro, I don’t need ‘word of mouth’. I am okay with doing Facebook ads to get the word out.”
Hmm, fair point. Perhaps, it’s possible that your business is cash-rich and wants to invest in paid ads to get the word out and eventually get more paying customers.
But on the behalf of The Association of small and generous businesses (yes, of course, I made that up) I would assert that the path of spending budgets on ads, is not feasible for every business.
Here are a few questions –
“How did you come to know about Facebook? Through an advertisement, or through your friend?”
“What about Airbnb? How did you find out about them? Through your friend or through ads?
“What about Apple?”
“What about Harley Davidson?”
“What about Slack?”
I can go down the list, but the point has been made.
So here is Pranav’s 7th law of Marketing –
“The stronger the brand at its core, the lesser the dependency on the hype.”
In simpler terms, if the foundation of your brand is strong, then you would need to spend less time and effort in getting the word out through paid ads. When the core of the brand is strong enough, it has the strength to spread the word by itself.
So I hope you are not on the edge anymore. Enabling word of mouth is definitely a strategy worth exploring for your business.
Easier said than done though.
Enabling word of mouth is no walk in the park.
Because people don’t want to talk about your business.
If I recommend you the ‘Cream and cookies’ ice-cream that is sold at the shop down the street, and if that ice-cream ends up disappointing you, then I have embarrassed myself.
The natural instinct of human beings is to play it safe… and endorsing a business is risky. And I don’t want to do risky stuff.
So the challenge for brands is pushing the people out of their inertia, and enabling them to talk about their product/service.
How do we go about this?
Is there a formula?
A topic, as nuanced as this one, will never have a formula.
But hey… perhaps you and I should at least start identifying some patterns?
As I got deeper into this rabbit hole, it became evident that for some ‘visual’ businesses, enabling word of mouth is easier. It’s easy for a tattoo parlor to get the word out, because every time their customer gets a tattoo, his friends are going to ask him about it.
The same can happen for a business that sells shoes.
What about brands that don’t sell visual products/services?
Yeah, quite tricky, no?
How can the following non-visual businesses create word of mouth?
- Karate class
- A Digital Marketing training institute
- A grocery store
- An Author
- A Software development company
- A Dentist
In the next email, I will try to tackle this challenge and come up with a few ‘word of mouth’ strategies for these businesses. This is where I need your help.
Can you suggest me word of mouth strategies for one or two of these businesses? If you want to add a business of your own, feel free to do that. I will be featuring some of the replies in my next email.
So yes, I am eager to hear what you have to say. I will see you next week.
P.S. – There is a book written by Seth Godin on this topic. It’s called “Unleashing the Idea-virus”. It’s free. Check it out. 🙂