1st out of 6 Marketing articles I plan to Publish on my wall.Happy Reading 🙂
“Word of Mouth Marketing_WoM”
What is the biggest strategy for building a brand? I always wondered & observed with tremendous curiosity. Marketing maestros continuously emphasizes on increasing visibility through conventional & emerging medium via advertisement. I always wanted to understand the core purpose of advertisement. Millions of dollars spent, hundreds of minutes of airtime purchased, thousands of billboards put up and everyone is dancing for a candy bar or detergent on a golf course. Higher visibility is believed to be the key driver behind brand building exercise. Becoming copycat & heavy on mass media surely get you a reasonable visibility, no questioned asked on that. But one major thing that goes unnoticed during major marketing campaign is the believability issue. Frankly speaking, personally I can’t find the credibility layer on an advertisement where the celebrity/model is dancing in a panoramic location & preaching for washing powder & so forth. Moreover stereotypically marketers are perceived as a very cunning breed of professionals & consumers are very reluctant to put their faith on traditional advertisement as they believe that the formal forms of marketing often has a hidden agenda. Interestingly enough everyone seems to be taking the same route. This highly cluttered communication platforms demand a delicate treatment for your brand & that comes from “connect” factor not from hyper visibility. Sadly enough the Brand building strategies are often misunderstood as visibility strategy.
By connectivity I mean, ensuring the extra layer of credibility for you brand communication. Therefore the best output a brand strategy should generate, is to make people talk about it rather than to generate numeric reach of target consumer through all the advertisement. Generating positive Word of mouth should occupy a major portion of your brand building efforts. People talk about your brand only when you touch them & only when they hear about it from a more reliable source. It could be his peers, colleagues, social network buddies or in the news. Make them notice your efforts. For that your brand needs to draw attention, create buzz. It doesn’t matter how cool the strategy or the execution plan looked inside the board room rather how many of the TG talked about it. I have seen brand managers going crazy about their pet projects & talking about it all week long & subsequently hearing about it from fellow colleagues which often give them a fabricated sense of accomplishment. These chattering are surely not to be mislabeled as word of mouth in this article.
Two things are very important for positive word of mouth; one is from where the consumers are listening about the brand & the other is, what they are listening. Source & content have to be carefully selected.
Sources can be any touch points with tested credibility factor. Mostly interactive platforms are more believable nowadays. Everyone has something to say nowadays. It could be live TV shows to social network platforms or a reality show or a trade fair. Open Debate about your product on mass media or Product experience sharing booth showcasing your brand is another direct & interactive approach. Opinion leader engagement or attracting trend setter will have a better spillover effect compared to other forms of communication as well. Direct mail being a bit primitive yet has its capacity to impact. Internet based social networks having limited penetration in this part of the world can’t be applicable for mass communication. However handheld mobile devices can open up a greater opportunity for direct communication. Advertisers & network service providers & content providers can come up with more tolerable forms of communication approach. It does not have to have an agent calling a subscriber & preaching him/her about his product. It could be subscribers brands that he/she usage & a message he will hear when someone calls him.
Let’s move on to discuss about the content of your communication. Consumers are king & they have a busy schedule; even the poorest & laziest one too. Why would he talk about a product or brand leaving behind all the other exciting things of his life? Let’s be honest, I don’t start or end my day by talking about soap or washing powder or energy drink brand .I talk about my own life even my boss gets more talk time from me than any established brand of the country. Why so? He does not dance on the TV or sings on the radio unlike visible brands. The answer is very simple. I have a hidden agenda here with my boss. I talk about him because he will be able to generate direct benefit for me i.e. a promotion or a salary hike may be.
Last time I talked about meril splash because of the innocent face of the model & center shock for it’s unique taste, I talked about Samsung because of being 1st in introducing LED, talked about square because of the trendy branded employee carrier buses, talked about OTOBI because of their new outlet in my area, talked about Nokia for their unreleased smart phone N8, talked about frutica because of the true humor in their TVCs. At the same time I have seen people chatting about Mitsubishi Ex Lancer & its 3 years warranty program in social networks & as a result I have grown affinity with the brand. Also some trend setter friends of mine stated using the car & I had a greater impact on me rather than the press ad. I got curious about Amex cards when my face book buddies started talking about it. I only talked about brands when they could become news & when they offer me a benefit or show me an opportunity cost. Creating big news around the brand is an excellent way forward in this regard. Stronger Public relation strategy is surely getting you an extra edge. Don’t only advertise in the newspaper; become news.
Becoming news is definitely a big deal. Brand needs to invent not discover or improvise. A car that runs on water will make news whereas a car with specious leg compartment may be not. A skin care cream that is a regular item in aishyaria Rai’s make up box will make news whereas just another fairness cream will struggle. Phone that keep record of your heart beat & Blood pressure is news whereas a phone with advanced document viewer is just another hi-tech gadget which might need a lot of communication fuel to take off. Edible oil with low cholesterol is not news the way another edible oil brand that is used by the government to entertain the foreign state guest.
Likewise for a brand to make its way to the consumers’ discussion agenda it needs a genius approach. Consumer has to consider the communication as relevant news not as just another cunning advertisement. PR is the new advertisement. PR that generates word of mouth is the best output of any brand building strategy. People need to believe.
Consistency in communication is a proven recipe of brand building. However periodic tactical communication has to be fresh. A brand must not bore its target audience just for the sake of maintaining the alignment with its past. Boredom comes from lack of surprise. An energy drink communication not necessarily must have a man drinking it & doing some unnatural thing. It’s so predictable. It needs to have the newness in presenting itself. Newness & creativity are neighbors. Creativity comes from knowledge. To be creative it demands quality time, efforts & few storms in the brain. It’s a common practice to Rush into things which often compromises the creativity & hence gives a brand visibility but not connectivity due to lack of surprise elements.
Everyone wants an immediate benefit or portfolio of benefits. Talk sense talk business. Talk benefit or opportunity cost. Entertain you audience with information. Infotainment is the fling now-a-days. Do not over act.
Visibility will give brand awareness & connectivity will give business, I guess everyone signed in for business
In no way I am trying to undermine the conventional approach of brand building, I am trying to rearrange the priority settings here. There was a time when infantry was the key & most important part of any war. But with the time the priority changed, Air supremacy is the most important factor now but still you need the infantry to keep the hold.
Simultaneous pursuit of visibility & connectivity should the key focus of any brand building strategy.