Marketing of Services
Over the period of time, methods and techniques of selling products and services have evolved to a greater degree, however, word of mouth still remains the cheapest and fastest way of promotion. Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing involves activities that companies undertake to generate personal recommendations as well as referrals for brand names, products and services. This form of marketing is highly valued due to its source creditability.
If we compare a tv commercial in which a model is advertising a product or a service (which we know he/she has never used) with a referral from some friend, we will definitely go for the friend’s recommended product or service. Moreover, besides credibility of the source, we also know that the model is saying good things about the product or service in return for a heavy, cash whereas a WOM communicator does not have an vested interest. This reflects the big advantage which the WOM enjoys over other forms of marketing.
For exploiting the same advantage and for managing WOM effectively, marketers use publicity techniques as well as viral marketing methods to achieve desired behavioral response (Wikipedia, 2006). Word of Mouth is still considered to be the best form of marketing. Many researchers believe that let the product or service speak for itself. In addition to spreading a positive word about the product or the service, let the customers talk about the same due to the superior quality and excellent customer service.
If you build up a strong reputation, people will want your product and services and will spread the word about it even without you making any effort (Griffiths, 2006). Ensuring a good product and high quality service are the best things which can be done to generate positive WOM (Khatri, 2006). The WOM promotions do not follow a linear pattern like information flowing from one direction to another. A successful WOM generates a buzz, which spreads all around with in no time. A marketer is considered to have created a buzz when the message starts floating in a matrix pattern.
The result is everyone is talking about or purchase the product or service. In reality, everyone wants to talk about a good experience. This experience may be about using a new product or a service. A classic example could be the news about a new movie or a hot scandal. The message will spread like a fire from one student to another and from one colleague to another. Even in less than 24 hours, it will be talk of the town. Managerially, the research indicates that, at least for entertainment services, WOM communication may not depend on actual experience.
Many potential users talk about the product or service merely on the basis of speculation or hearsay (Liu, 2006). A service firm that is quality leader in its industry can induce and manage WOM by following the guidelines appended below (Pilotta, 2005): • Don’t Put WOM in Isolation. WOM alone can not do miracles. It should be used in collaboration with other forms of marketing campaigns. • Learn Where WOM Works Best. Face-to-face communication works almost everywhere, however cell phones, text messaging, and IMs are also successful WOM media.
• Consider the Category of Product or Service. Not all categories work well for WOM. For example, word of mouth is very useful in the provision of services like in the field of communication including telephones, mobiles, internet etc. It can also be best utilized for other service industries like travel and entertainment. On the contrary, Word of Mouth may not prove useful in marketing of services like banking, education, law and health care where words do not suffice. • Be Aware of Where WOM is Coming From. It is generally a misconception that consumers make their own opinion.
Media plays an important part in shaping their opinion in addition to their personal experiences. Consequently, look not only at what your influencers are saying, but at what other media they are consuming that is helping shape their word of mouth. • Analyze and Look for the Real Meaning. Often, the people scrutinizing the word of mouth look strictly at the transcript of what is said. Instead, the meaning behind the words should be evaluated, as well as the words themselves. When we consider the examples of successful implementation of WOM marketing in today’s scenario, Gmail stands out in front.
Google did no marketing or spent any money for promotion of Gmail. They created scarcity by giving out Gmail accounts only to a handful of “power users. ” The word about the new mail service with only limited users spread through out the world just in couple of months. People started making all out efforts to get into the line of the so called “power users. ” Demand was created by limited supply. The status of having a Gmail account caused the word of mouth, rather than any marketing activities by Google. The essence of WOM Marketing rests in spreading the information employing the human resource.
Besides the utilization of information technology, the very best way to get the word out is to tell people. If each employee of an organization tells 10 people of the incredible services his/her company is providing, and those 10 people tell another 10 people, the information will become a buzz, even with out spending any money at all. However, an important aspect to remember is that WOM alone can not be used in isolation. It is a superb marketing strategy if employed in conjunction with various other marketing tools and methodologies.
Griffiths, Eifion, 2006, ‘Overnight Success’, BBC Wales, viewed 24 August 2006, https://www.ama.org/search/pages/results.aspx?k=content31012