Sunday, April 6, 2008

Word of Mouth

Are you aware of the effects of what you say? One of the oldest and most impacting ways of communication, is spreading your view by

Word of Mouth

Matthew 15:11
The words you speak are a projection of your deepest self. Your spoken words come back and you and may pollute or heal you.

Already in the bible (Matthew 15:11) Jesus states that instead of discussing whether unclean foods (entering the mouth) defile a person, the words that come out of a person's mouth (could) defile him more.
However, be good of heart, so that good words come out of your mouth (Luke 6:45) to generate good things in life.

WOM Marketing
Word of Mouth (WOM) is serious business. Be aware that your spoken words could effect or infect your environment.

Just like a viral infection, your words can become contagiousness (sticky) and are (in)directly widely spread around.

In the world of (viral) marketing this is what in the book named "The Tipping Point", Gladwell calls:

The Stickiness Factor

Marketing research on products and brands, showed that (product or brand) success is closely related to a handful of 'stickiness' key drivers:
  • Excellence: perceived as best of breed
  • Uniqueness: clear one-of-a-kind differentiation
  • Aesthetics: perceived aesthetic appeal
  • Association: generates positive associations
  • Engagement: fosters emotional involvement
  • Functional value: addresses functional needs
  • Nostalgic value: evokes sentimental linkages
  • Personification: has character, personality
  • Cost: perceived value for money

Whether you like to successful transfer a message, sell a product or "sell" yourself (like a brand), rate your message, product or yourself to the above list of 'sticky key drivers' and see how you can do better.

The more key drivers qualities are fulfilled, the more success you'll have.

WOM Formula
There's even a WOM formula that states that (the success of) WOM is a function of originality (O) and usefulness (U).

WOM = O x U

This formula has been extended by Alain Thys to:

WOM = O x U x SC

  • O = Originality
  • U = Usefulness
  • S = Seed, covers the amount of initial locations you can seed your message(i.e. the number of customers, bloggers, etc.)
  • C = Credibility, determines the relative value of these seed locations.

WOM HR in the office
Another WOM application can be given in the Human Resource (HR) field (Authentic Word of Mouth Marketing Innovations)
The way employees in a company respond and translate 'messages' and 'information' in the organization to other employees, depends on their 'Social Abilities' and their positive or negative 'Work Experiences'.

When making cultural changes in companies we may distinguish between these several kind of employees:

  • Quadrant A
    Employees in Quadrant A do not feel positive or engaged at work. This group also tends to not have a large social circle, which means that even if they are complaining about the workplace, it will have limited effect. However, do not underestimate these people as many of them many not be extremely social in person but are social on the internet, where they can have an enormous impact. Especially if this group has tech skills, work hard to make them feel engaged and frequently ask them what they like about the job.
  • Quadrant B
    Employees in Quadrant B generally like the job and have a positive opinion of it, but do not care to share that fact with a wide circle. This group should be encouraged to speak about the job more. If they are not comfortable with engaging more people in person, you can make them an online advocate of the company and train them in blogging, social networks and other online social tools where they can meet more people without feeling uncomfortable. They can also be mentored to go to more public events.
  • Quadrant C
    Employees in Quadrant C are dangerous to your company. These highly social but negative people will spread negative stories, talk about company weaknesses and flaws in management. In the best of situations, you should try to move these employees to a more positive feeling for the company. Care must be taken that these people do not get left unchecked until they have severely damaged the company image, which as a social insider, is not difficult to do.
  • Quadrant D
    Employees in Quadrant D should get paid double. These are the people that add energy and excitement to the company and they act as a latent but effective salesperson whenever they encounter someone. These are the people that, even years after they have left your business, will still be talking about it to new people.
    The key with employees in D is to recognize them, encourage them and challenge them to do even more. Give them the stories and access to information that will make it even easier for them. Turn up their volume.

Realize the power of WOM, use it!

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