One of the many benefits of word of mouth is that you have a sales force of evangelists that is ready and willing to extol the greatness that this is your company. The downside is that evangelists may not always say what you would want them to say.
What I mean by this is that your customers may be very positive in all of their word of mouth, but you may feel that they have “missed” some core messages that might have helped the other person to want to try your product (if you have ever felt this way, can you really blame anyone but yourself?) Keep in mind that most of your evangelists are not trained marketers (and to some degree, thank goodness!) Regardless, there comes a time when you simply have to pass the marketing baton to your evangelists and let them control the message. Some companies find this very difficult.
Though I believe that you cannot completely control how the message is received in minds of the consumers, I do believe that you can take some proactive steps to increase the likelihood that your evangelists use the intended core message of your product. These three steps are:
- Consistency. The more consistent the customer experience is throughout all of the channels (online, store, toll-free number, catalog, etc), the more likely the message will be a cohesive and understandable message. For example, if I walk into your store and my questions are answered and I am treated very well, then I expect that when I call your customer service department that I will talk to someone who understands my issue and does not treat me like I am a nuisance.
- Simplicity. The less that I, the consumer, have to think to make sense of your marketing message, the better. When you walk into a Mac store or listen to a tween girl talk about her Little Miss Matched socks, you “get the message” right away.
- Differentiation. if your product is truly revolutionary (much harder these days), it may be difficult for evangelists to explain to others about your product. In this situation, try giving them simple comparisons (see the previous post) to explain your product to their friends. On the other end of the spectrum, it is challenging for evangelists to talk to their friends about your product if your product is only slightly better than existing products.