Centricity Blog

The Strength of Word of Mouth

Posted January 14, 2010 by in Marketing

Word of mouth marketing.

Now, there is a statement that means so many different things to so many different people. So what is it?

I like how the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (womma.org) puts it:

Word of mouth marketing is the most honest form of marketing, building upon people’s natural desire to share their experiences with family, friends, and colleagues

Or how Wikipedia puts it:

Word of mouth is a reference to the passing of information from person to person. Originally the term referred specifically to oral communication, but now includes any type of human communication, such as face-to-face, telephone, email, and text messaging.

So basically, it’s when one person tells another about something they like. Word of mouth marketing is when my friend Dave tells me about a new restaurant he loves. It is when Nate tells me of a band I have to listen to. Or when Rebekah tells me of a TV show I have to watch. It is even when I go to iTunes and they have that cool feature “listeners also bought.” These are all word of mouth marketing.

Why do I listen to Dave when he tells me of a restaurant to eat at? Because we have experienced many a meal together and I trust him. Why do I listen to Nate? Because I trust what he is telling me about is cool.

Does that mean I listen to everyone? No. I have a lot of friends, but I don’t listen to everyone about good food. Heck, Rebekah doesn’t like Mexican food so I am NOT listening to her food choices. Do you listen to professional movies reviews or your friend? The one who you have shared many movies with? I know I trust my friends more than the professional. You?

I have heard a few people say in today’s digital world that word-of-mouth is an antiquated idea. One of the things you will learn about me is that I am a data person. Give me data to analyze and I am happy. So here is a little data to answer the naysayers:

  • According to a 2007 Neilson Global Survey, recommendations from fellow consumers remains the most trusted source of information when consumers decide which products and services to buy – with nearly 80% of the 26,000 worldwide respondents citing “recommendations from consumers” as their most trusted form of information.
  • According to a new survey from the NPD Group, 72% of  gamers rely on word of mouth for game information- 41% of respondents cited direct word of mouth, with another 31% citing hands-on play at the home of a friend or relative
  • According to a 2008 study by OTX and DEI Worldwide found social media sites are the number one online source for information on a company, brand, or product. 71% of respondents found recommendations from online consumers helpful. 67% of respondents were likely to pass information they found about a brand to others
  • According to a Retail Advertising and Marketing Association survey conducted by BIGresearch, word of mouth remains the biggest influence in people’s electronics (43.7%) and apparel (33.6%)

Most of this data was lifted from womma.org, National Retail Foundation, marketingcharts.com and The Word of Mouth Marketing Blog.

And for those of you visual learners…

OK… who cares? What does that mean to ME?

As artists and labels, we know word of mouth is that number one influencer. What should we do?

Here are a couple of statements from The Word of Marketing Blog to think about (but you have to insert “artist” for “company” and “fan” for “customer”):

Companies who consistently go out of their way on behalf of their customers are the ones everyone loves to talk about.

More than stunts, fancy website widgets, the latest social media tools, or sophisticated marketing techniques — a dedication to delivering amazing experiences for your customers is still the best

In the informative and influential book Word of Mouth Marketing By Andy Sermovitz, he has a12 point Word of Mouth Manifesto. I highly recommend the book. But there are a couple of points that totally resonate for artists:

  1. Happy customers are your best advertising. Make people happy.
  2. Marketing is what you do, not what you say
  3. Be interesting or be invisible
  4. If it’s not worth talking about it’s not worth doing

I will say it in even easier terms… Give your fans something to talk about.

That is, connect with your fans every way possible. Be it on stage, at an autograph table, on Facebook, or via your Twitter  – CONNECT. Give them something to talk about, give your fans something unique.

Almost every artist I work with knows who their mega-fans are. What are you doing to do to give them something to talk about? Do you know their birthdays? They know yours. What about the person who requests to be your friend on Facebook or Twitter? Are you going the extra mile to welcome them to your circle? What about that kid who wants their picture taken with you? Do you talk to them? Are you interested in them? If you aren’t why should they be interested in you?

Here is my challenge to you…

What are you giving people to talk about? Are you interesting or invisible?

In the infamous words of Bonnie Raitt “Lets give them something to talk about.”

About The Author: Steve Ford

Steve Ford started as an engineer at LA's famed Mama Jo's studio before crossing over to the dark side: marketing. After a stint in artist development and A&R at Sparrow working with Steven Curtis Chapman, BeBe & CeCe Winans, and Out of the Gray, Ford moved onto Star Song and later Myrrh, marketing records by Newsboys, Fernando Ortega, and Amy Grant. He served as general manager at inpop records, signing Superchic(k) and Shane & Shane; he started INO's rock imprint SRE, where he worked with Skillet, Flyleaf, Disciple, and Decypher Down. At Centricity, Ford oversees all aspects of sales and marketing, including radio, packaging, and hair product endorsements. Ford lists racquetball and "books" as his hobbies, which occupy what free time isn't spent discovering obscuro new music.

  1. Rebekah Markowitz said

    Hey wait a second… I have good food taste, it’s just that Mexican food is gross. And I’m glad you finally realize I have great taste in TV shows.

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