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Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is an inexpensive method of creating publicity and brand awareness for a product or service. WOMM can be practiced either orally or in written form. One of the biggest benefits to word of mouth is that it functions as credible advertising; recommendations come from people who do not stand to profit from favorably mentioning a particular product or service.
Companies have long benefited from happy customers "passing the word" about their products. In the age of the Internet and with the dawn of social networking sites, word of mouth marketing has become increasingly powerful. Recognizing the benefits of this type of unpaid promotion has led some firms to unscrupulous behavior. A few companies have been accused of paying people to post product recommendations on popular social networking sites without divulging that the posts were paid for.
Attempting to fake WOMM is considered unethical, and, when it's discovered, the revelation can hurt a brand. The reputation of the entire company can be tarnished as a result. Consumers might feel betrayed, and it can be difficult for a company to win them back.
Word of mouth marketing attempts to create "marketing buzz." The more a potential customer hears about a product or service, the more likely that person will be to buy it. Positive buzz is the goal of WOMM; in the most successful cases, a marketing message is said to "go viral," meaning that its popularity spreads quickly, like a virus.
In order to take advantage of word of mouth marketing, the consumer must have a reason to talk about the product or service. Without a compelling reason, no buzz will be generated. Therefore, word of mouth marketing cannot be created, but it can be nurtured and facilitated. Companies with pages on social networking websites attempt to encourage word of mouth marketing by providing a venue for customers to share product experiences.
WOMM promotes transparent communication between satisfied customers and the company providing the goods or services. It aims to educate the public about something by using real-life recommendations. Companies can benefit from WOMM because it gives them insight into what is good about their products, and it can shed light on what might need improvement.
Although the technique costs very little to implement, it has the potential to have a large, positive impact on sales. For that reason, it is popular among companies of all sizes, particularly those that have little to no marketing budget. Many larger companies use WOMM in conjunction with large advertising and marketing campaigns, because it is an excellent means of directly communicating with customers.