The Journey Back to Word-of-Mouth
Author: Jasmine Waters
There’s nothing we love more than a satisfying conversation – especially since we’re starved of personal connection. With all facets of business needing to rethink a post-COVID strategy, some are choosing to propel themselves forward through word-of-mouth only. With the danger of social stigma never too far away, can brands successfully market and grow just through their words?
How has word-of-mouth changed?
As early as 2019, small brands have found success in ditching the kinds of digital marketing many don’t have the budget for. Finding new ways to take ownership of word-of-mouth strategies has proved to be a difficult balancing act, though many sales programmes have seen enormous increases since. The idea has been rebranded as ‘social selling’, relying on brands’ existing smaller consumer bases – utilising their loyalty to leverage viral marketing. In the eyes of some, it could tiptoe too close to Multi-Level Marketing schemes (MLM). In reality, brands are tactically choosing the principles that suit them best, and most importantly, amplify brand values. Unlike the pyramid scheme feel of past companies, consumers or influencers who wish to become sellers don’t need to buy into stock, and downlines of friends and family sales networks don’t exist (if they’re not wanted).
Why is it different to MLM?
In its place, potential ambassadors ask their followings to buy products through affiliate links, generating a commission risk-free. In some cases, brands may instate a membership or enrolment fee. The purpose of each is to keep hold of the buzz of authenticity, capitalising on the personal, tight-knit feel of a small brand community. It can’t be argued that one of the strongest endorsements a brand can have comes from projected customer trust, something word-of-mouth strategies can keep hold of without the stigma of years past. It’s with this idea that small brands can get customers to do what they may have already been doing for free – talking about what they love. There are other avenues for this, including personal try-ons, zoom webinars and facilitated Facebook groups. The mostly likely cost to a brand’s ambassador is time, likely spent making the all-important social media content.
Small brands truly hold all the cards if choosing to take this path. User generated social media content enables brand reach unlikely to be achieved through solo efforts, still keeping all the costs while gaining customers and exposure. The beauty of social selling is the ability to evolve as a brand grows, allowing authenticity and growth to co-exist. Personal relationships will be key to post-pandemic selling, as consumers look for those who remain the most true to themselves.
Image source: https://talkinginfluence.com/