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Consider Adding Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies To Your PR Mix

***In these challenging days of fluxing media relations and exploding social media options, WOMM helps cuts through the clutter.***

I’ve been a PR consultant in various forms (corporate, agency, independent) for 28 years. During the first couple of decades, I remained busy managing media relations, special events, employee communication, collateral writing, and myriad other communication for my companies and clients. But, during all those years, I kept thinking, “There has to be something that cuts through all the marketing confusion out there and brings my company’s or client’s messages right home to a prospect.” In 2003, I “discovered” that something. Good ol’ word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).

Nothing cuts through the weekly average of 35,000 marketing messages bombarding each of us (Direct Marketing News, March 24, 2006) like a friend or associate saying, “You’ve just got to have dinner at My Favorite Restaurant!” or “I love my Amazing Product!” Or, even better for us consultants, “I just had the greatest experience working with Iman Expert, and I highly recommend you contact him!”

Many clients–and consultants–are hopeful WOMM is going to happen for them, that their product or service is going to catch on and a viral miracle will begin. That is not likely unless you’re doing something strikingly unusual. So, what if you were to actually strategize for WOMM?

That is what I help my clients do. And, I thought you might benefit from hearing about some of the concepts I use to start creating buzz, which you can certainly share with your clients.

The LINC Process

I start with LINC (Listen. Illuminate. Nurture. Create.). It’s my typical, cyclical communication process, which should be repeated periodically to keep your efforts on track. Here are the steps:

1. Listen: Interview your client’s existing and potential customers for feedback about the product/service.

2. Illuminate: Hold a WOMM strategy session to incorporate customer feedback and generate ideas creating Wow! Moments for customers—touch points that are so special that customers can’t wait to chat them up in their networks.

3. Nurture: Develop a tactical marketing plan from the ideas generated in the session.

4. Create: Based on the tactics outlined in the plan, implement your WOMM strategies.

The second step, Illuminate, is where most of the WOMM magic happens because it’s where the ideas are generated to get people buzzing about a company or product. In my WOMM WOW! strategy sessions, I borrow several thought-leaders’ concepts to help direct my clients.


The foundation ideas are from a book, *Creating Customer Evangelists* by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. This tome made me realize in 2003 that WOMM was the answer. In it, McConnell and Huba provide the “Six Tenets of Customer Evangelism” (http://www.creatingcustomerevangelists.com/resources/playbook.asp). Companies notorious for buzz–Southwest Airlines, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Krispy Kreme donuts, and others–use these Six Tenets consistently:

1. Customer Plus-Delta. Continuously gather customer feedback.

2. Napsterize Knowledge. Make it a point to share knowledge freely.

3. Build The Buzz. Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.

4. Create Community. Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.

5. Bite-Size Chunks. Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.

6. Create a Cause. Focus on making the world, or an industry, better.


Another thought leader’s model I tout to clients is from Seth Godin’s book *Tribes.* His main concept shows us the new “marketing” as simply “leadership.” Basically, it talks about how to lead a community with a common interest. This fits in nicely with Tenet #4 above, Create Community.

How can you lead your clients into creating an established tribe like home schoolers, Oprah’s followers, or Apple computer users? Simply gather them together using the following characteristics, lead it using Godin’s precepts, and you’ve begun your own tribe.

Characteristics of a tribe:

• Members must have a common goal/cause/interest

• Its leaders(s) lead, they don’t manage

• The leader(s) create a space for members to communicate easily, online and/or in-person

• Members create what they will, organically, with a few pointers from the leader

• Members are exclusive to a certain group (some folk can’t or won’t join)

• It’s not a group or crowd, but an interactive community

Start your own tribe:

Here are some questions and ideas to help you jump-start your own supportive tribe of clients, vendors, or associates.

• What common goal might the group get behind to talk about? Make it something germane to their lives and work, so they see what’s in it for them.

• How can you as a leader spark ideas/action within the group?

• Easy communication/gatherings are paramount to the success of a tribe. Luckily, today’s online tools make it relatively easy. In-person meetings are a great idea, too.


Brains on Fire is a brilliant identity and WOMM company I’ve just recently discovered. They compare “campaigns” with “movements” in a July 8, 2009 manifesto entitled “Lessons Learned in Igniting Word of Mouth Movements.” The document (http://www.changethis.com/60.03.BrainsOnFire) covers exactly how and what you want to do to create a WOMM movement for your service or product. You’ll see some distinct similarities here with the *Tribes* model. Corroboration…yes!

Brains on Fire outlines 10 common elements in a movement:

1. Movements are about the Passion Conversation. Not the Product Conversation.

2. Movements begin with the first conversation.

3. Movements have inspirational leadership.

4. Movements have a barrier of entry.

5. Movements empower people with knowledge.

6. Movements have shared ownership.

7. Movements have powerful identities.

8. Movements live both online and offline.

9. Movements make advocates feel like rock stars.

10. Movements get results.

I’ll be giving these ideas serious consideration in my WOMM consulting practice. How about you? What do you think about using WOMM in your PR efforts with your clients? Can you offer other ideas to support WOMM strategy? Let’s hear what you think, indies…

By Ann N. Videan, APR
vIDEAn Unlimited marketing connections
Phoenix, AZ

2 Responses to “Consider Adding Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies To Your PR Mix”

  1. Matthew Clark Says:

    marketing always makes a product more popular and is necessary for its success.,~’

  2. Light Sensors %0B Says:

    marketing really takes some skill and talent if you want to succced in it ;”-

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