Word of mouth

15 novembre 2007 par Axel

Word of mouth is certainly the key to develop this family business. But how does it work ? How to develop this purely human thing ? No f....ing idea !

Let's start with Wikipedia : Word of mouth, is a reference to the passing of information by verbal means, especially recommendations, but also general information, in an informal, person-to-person manner. Word of mouth is typically considered a face-to-face spoken communication, although phone conversations, text messages sent via SMS and web dialogue, such as online profile pages, blog posts, message board threads, instant messages and emails are often now included in the definition of word of mouth. There is some overlap in meaning between word of mouth and the following: rumour, gossip, innuendo, and hearsay; however word of mouth is more commonly used to describe positive information being spread rather than negative, although this is not always the case.

There is also WOMM, Word of Mouth Marketing, and even WOMMA, Word of Mouth Marketing Association. There are plenty of books, surveys, agencies, buzz marketing gurus, and so on. At the end of the day, when you really try to understand, the only explanatory thing is an example. The rest may not be bullshit, but may be useless. Examples ? The email in general is spread by word of mouth, by essence. Same thing for free communication software such as Skype, Yahoo Messenger and so on. Because your friends have it, you need. But if you don't have it, it's useless for your friends. Maybe this are not the best examples.

Gmail, however, did something smart, typically "viral", very cheap, very efficient : at the launch of Gmail (well... the promise was 10 times more storage than competitors, the Google brand was famous, their awareness was even better than now, and the service was free...), Google decided to reserve the Gmail service to a happy few. These happy few had the right to "invite" 50 people. Then, anyone could create a Gmail account. What is smart ? Zero marketing expense, doubled viral effect, increased quality perception, valuation of first users... and the rest of people were jealous...