It’s the holy grail of marketing in the digital age. If you’re clever enough and smart enough and lucky enough, some advert or bit of shaky video, or incredibly amusing cartoon/blog post/*insert favorite virtual flotsam here* will spread all over the interwebs in a torrent of giddy, intoxicated interest.
By contrast, the more plain vanilla versions of word of mouth marketing are much more hum-drum. Much more everyday. Friends quietly and simply telling friends. Bo-ring. In a sense it’s all viral, but the less–shall we say– “pandemic” word of mouth seems like nothing to get excited about. Yet in our marketing efforts, these everyday actions are what I think we really should be stretching for.
Getting something to go crazy-viral is fun and cool and exciting, yes. But if we expend a ton of energy trying to get the creativity, luck, energy and juju lined up to pull off a viral coup, a lot of everyday connections will slip through our fingers.
The kind of word of mouth marketing I’m talking about is about long-term engagement, not just short-burst attention grabbing. Viral is about the cool, the new, the uber-popular. Sustainable word of mouth is focused on connecting with the customer, thanking them, and offering tools to share what they like with their friends.
Take something as simple as a smile. Colgate developed the Colgate Smiles campaign which invites users to simply share a smile by uploading a photo. This is fun, sweet, and connects so directly with the brand – happy people showing off their mouth full of freshly brushed teeth!
Word of mouth prophet Andy Sernovitz suggests not just asking your customers for generic help, but for specific help. Read his entire post on the subject here: Invite your customers to commit to a specific action (like uploading a photo) and then another specific action. If people love what you’re doing, they’ll likely have fun sharing what you’re doing.
The upshot: Viral pandemics are nice work if you can get it, but there are plenty of other solid word of mouth strategies which will sustain your business for the long haul.
It’s the difference between a sneeze and holding hands. While this might be satisfying for an individual for a short time…
This is what most of us are looking for…