How Word of Mouth Fits In
It's so simple, it almost seems counterintuitive: People rely on other people they know and trust to give them recommendations on products and services. So smart marketers want to make sure the right people have something good to say about their brands.
That's called word-of-mouth marketing, and it has always been a part of the public relations toolkit. But in the past few years, marketing professionals have begun applying greater direction and a degree of quantitative rigor to word of mouth (WOM). While it will continue to be an integral part of public relations, WOM also is beginning to gain a seat at the marketing table as a separate discipline.
To put the power of WOM into perspective, the Marketing Leadership Council reports that peer-to-peer recommendations rank No. 1 in importance over other considerations for buyers of consumer packaged goods. For buyers of durables and services, such recommendations rank third and fourth, respectively. And a recent Inc. 500 survey reported that 82 percent of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. said WOM was the No. 1 way they market their products and services. While these numbers are U.S.-focused, our experience tells us that these trends exist in other regions of the world as well.
As you consider the power word of mouth has in your own life — whether it is a recommendation for insurance or a political endorsement — you begin to imagine the possibilities. This issue of Perspectives Extra explores the topic in more detail. We feature a roundtable of word-of-mouth thought leaders who spotlight new directions for WOM in the U.S. and around the globe as they discuss how word of mouth fits into the marketing mix. Paul Rand, president and CEO of Zócalo Group (a Ketchum and Omnicom company specializing in WOM) then examines sustainability versus simple buzz. And our Street Smarts section highlights WOM facts and figures.
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