Word of Mouth... Is What the Industry Is Talking About

wom.jpgThe March 2008 edition of Event Marketer features some great information on Word of Mouth (WOM) Marketing that I wanted to share... As sports marketers, we always hear about it, yet facts and results are rarely brought to the table. The goal of this article is to build your knowledge on word of mouth marketing - read up and spread the word!

What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing? Simply, it is getting people to talk about a brand by creating meaningful and direct interactions with consumers (usually through a brand ambassador communicating their experiences). WOM is an effort by an organization to encourage, facilitae, and amplify marketing-relevant messages among consumers

Where is Word-of-Mouth Marketing Happening? Everywhere. People are telling others about the brands they love and the experiences they take in. Turn brand engagements (stadium experiences) into stories worth telling to friends and colleagues... Capitalize on this! What is the story that your fans will tell their frends? Events get people charged up about brands like nothing else... What are you doing with your promotions/corporate sponsorship initiatives to agree with this statement?

wom4.jpgWhy is Word-of-Mouth Marketing a Growing Trend? Ad budgets are down, alternative media spending is up - yet 90% of consumers are talking to each other face-to-face about brands. Now, consumers are in control of the message. WOM spending topped $1BN in 2007, making it one of the fastest-growing alternative media segments (to give you an idea of the shift to non-traditional marketing/advertising methods: Nike spent just 1/3 of its $678MM ad budget on traditional media in 2006) 

Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing Effective? A new research report released by The Event Marketing Institute revealed that 78% of event attendees told others about their on-site experience. Some 90% of these people talked up the event to others within 48 hours - a simple note that demonstrates that people are communicating about their experiences more now than ever...and are doing so across multiple channels  

Is Word-of-Mouth-Marketing Cost-Effective? In most cases, yes. Companies that leverage buzz and influencer programs to increase reach lower their critical "cost-per-touch" measure. According to an EMI study, 77% of consumers say that their purchase decisions are influenced by others.

Sports Marketer Implications: Wait, what? 77% of consumers say that their purchase decisions are influenced by others. Here is the answer for persons selling tickets - focus your efforts on identifying brand ambassadors - create influencer programs (especially to drive group sales) where you identify one (1) brand fanatic and have them spread the message to others about their experience attending a game, etc. By creating these "customer-to-prospect" programs, you essentially want to reach out to a consumer who understands the brand and then takes it upon themselves to infect others on your behalf... Providing them with a VIP experience or some free gear/behind-the-scenes access couldn't hurt either...

wom3.jpgHow do you become a Word-of-Mouth Marketer? Start by asking yourself a few of these questions...

  • What is our marketing doing to encourage WOM and in particular WOM advocacy?
  • How do we drive buzz that stimulates trial and repeat purchase?
  • How can we make it easy in our messaging for consumers to really be able to share with each other the most relevant and important and exciting things about our brands?
  • How does our messaging bring that to the fore so it's easy for consumers to have the language to talk about our brand and what are the marketing mechanisms that make it easy for consumers to spread the word about our brand?
  • How can I take advantage of the fact that 90% of event attendees bring at least one other person with them? That more than 66% of persons travel to events in groups of 2-4 people? That 37% of people share their event experience with friends and family on the same day it took place?
  • Am I putting the consumer in charge of the message and letting them control it? What steps am I taking to have my brand weaved into their conversations and how can I influence this?
  • Have I identified my influencers/connectors - socially connected consumers that passionately love my brand and act  as my best customers? Have I identified my core group of brand advocates? Have I taken measures to identify such a group of individuals in the stadium setting? Influencers, who make up just 10% of the world's population, wield their influence on everyone they meet.