WOM: Word of Mouth (or Mouse) Branding

Have you ever stopped to think how come certain luminaries, reporters and critics just happen to have seen the movie before it was released? And how the TV station just happens to show up at cinema on release day to interview only those leaving with a happy smile on their faces? Of course, none of this is accidental. It is all carefully orchestrated by the publicity folks to generate good P.R. and more importantly, W.O.M.

Yes, good Word of Mouth marketing is by far the most powerful marketing messaging for any company, person, product or movie. But for years, marketers were unable to formalize the process to trigger the words to flow. Today you will see papers and articles on WOM marketing. Still not easy. But magic when it works. You may even hear it being called viral messaging today, especially since it is almost as effective as Word of Mouse marketing.

More interestingly, what is the actual word that these mouths or mice are spreading?

First of all, this “word” is like a Google Adword. Not necessarily just one word. Could be a whole phrase, though it is seldom a whole sentence. In the case of movies it is often the title of the film, or even an abbreviation: “Have you seen the new Indiana Jones movie?” Or the name of the star: “Have you seen the new Harrison movie?” In some cases, it is a friendly nickname: “Shall we stop by Mickey D’s?”

To create this kind of magic buzz, you need to provide your audience or customers with a handle on which to hang their pass-along messages. If you are in the entertainment business, this is often the name of the show or the star(s). But for the rest of us, it is our company or product name, or some affectionate nickname (think “Big Blue”).

The handle on a suitcase is but one small part of the piece of luggage. But it is a very important key piece by which you carry the whole load. So too, your brand handle is a very important small piece. It is not the brand promise. It is but a small piece of the whole. It is simply shorthand for your brand promise. The power comes from consistency when lots of mouths and lots of mice pass along this same piece of shorthand.

Of course, shorthand for your offerings only. Not your competitors. Not for the industry as a whole. Which is why you need a unique, defensible name for your audience to use as shorthand. A name like iPod, instead of a generic like MP3, to make sure all references track back to your company and brand.

 

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