I was reading about the Roman Empire from my daughter’s 6th grade history book, helping her prepare for a test, when I had an epiphany! Let me share it with you. When the Roman Empire was at its peak and a lot of construction was going on in public sector e.g. building of long roads, this saying became very famous: “All roads lead to Rome.” Being in the marketing profession for a while now, it got me thinking, “Hmm? This relates very well to marketing given today’s socially savvy consumer; “All marketing happens on Social Media.”
Since the beginning of time, “word-of-mouth” has been the most effective way of marketing, because it is based on “pull philosophy”, as opposed to “push philosophy.” Let’s analyze how.
Using my example of the Roman Era, why do you think this saying “all roads lead to Rome” became famous in the first place? Well first, there weren’t any billboards standing in Rome’s Coliseum. And as far as I know, there were no Radios, TVs, Internet, Facebooks or Twitters as well. But still this became famous. So what do you think that the medium of marketing was? It was obviously, word-of-mouth. Wikipedia definition of “word of mouth” is the passing of information from person to person by oral communication, which could be as simple as telling someone the time of day. Storytelling is a common form of word-of-mouth communication where one person tells others a story about a real event or something made up.
How do you think word-of-mouth is achieved in modern times? What do you think is the first thing you did last time when you came across a product or service that solved one of your pain points and was easy to use? You tweeted about it, you blogged about it on your Facebook and LinkedIn.
The new and cool term for “word-of-mouth” in today’s world is Advocacy; And the people who want to share their successful experiences with a product , company or brand are called advocates.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are actually enabling these advocates to accelerate and amplify the word-of-mouth process a thousand fold. I’m guessing that it must have taken at least hundreds of years for the Roman saying to become well-known, however, in today’s world it would have only taken a few hours to become known globally.
So having said that, let’s see what are the basic components for any product to draw advocates.
- Of course, first and foremost, your product should be solving a real problem.
- It should be very easy and intuitive to use.
- You must empower and educate your users with the knowledge that you have gathered while building the product.
If these parameters are satisfied, your users would talk about your product no matter what.
Some of you must be thinking that isn’t it so obvious that word of mouth is an effective marketing strategy but you will be surprised to know how many marketers are still dumping millions and millions of dollars in ineffective channels and penetrate maybe only 1% of the market? Isn’t it analogous to a situation where you had all the money and manpower to build a masterpiece like Taj Mahal but you ended up building only a simple marble memorial.
Suppose you are the marketing professional for your company. And suppose that your company has built a product that satisfies the above parameters. You should spend your efforts and money to implement those strategies that draw your customers to you. Once they come to you, let them use your product. Now sit back and relax, they will be your product’s advocates and do the rest for you using Social Media.