How to utilise word of mouth marketing

Listener Question

Hi Tim,

Just wanted to share with you a thought I had the other day….. I was on the tram to work, and had a call from a friend while on the tram. While on the tram her phone cut out – so she called me back, whereby she started to complain about her phone service.

I then went into my current plan/at cost, excellent service – and that it was the best phone plan I had been on for a while.  When I got off the phone, the lady sitting near me on the tram came up to me, and said – ‘Omg, that plan sounds amazing, I am with x provider and I think I might go into Telstra to look at that deal’ – and asked me a few questions about the product/service etc.

But I am 26 and starting my own side online fashion business – and it got me thinking that utilising this ‘word of mouth’ marketing/pr – In public areas (such as public transport – or targeting geographic/space that would utilise your product.  Ie: if it was raining at a tram stop – and you’re with a friend… spark up a conversation about the best rain jacket or umbrella you had bought.

I only limited funds to start up my business so was thinking of utilising this type of marketing (on top of facebook/blogs) to promote my product.  What are your thoughts…. has there been any analysis into this type of marketing – as useful/effective. Or just simply annoying?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Dani Holloway


Response from Netregistry
by Uyen Vu, Digital Marketing Manager

Hi Dani,

Word of mouth marketing or WOMM is one of the most powerful tools a person can utilise however it is also one of the hardest methods to get right as there is a fine line between a great marketing contrivance and as you put it ‘simply annoying’.

Word of mouth marketing

WOMM in public places can sometimes only work really well depending on the product or service.  In the case of your conversation with your friend about the mobile plans, this would attract attention as everyone nowadays owns a mobile phone and are always on the look out for the best plan, so of course people will listen intently.  However, if you continually talk about a dress I can guarantee you will find some people rolling their eyes and simply just annoyed, because let’s face it not everyone on the bus would be interested in a dress.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t utilise word of mouth, you definitely have a great idea going with WOMM as a marketing strategy, you just need to be strategic and talk about your products in the “right” public space.

Remember to practice what you preach.  Wear a piece of your design while chatting about it to your friend, this will allow by-standers to see your product and refer to it too. If your brand is not well known it may not be enough to spark interest by just ‘hearing’ about how great the product is. By wearing your designs as often as possible will enhance the chance of people noticing them, if you don’t wear your brand yourself it’s hard for others to follow suit. Get people excited and generate a buzz; be contagious with your excitement and people will tend to catch on and generate a buzz within their social circle.  Sometimes just wearing your own pieces is word-of-mouth in itself, it can actually help start an initial conversation with strangers without you saying an actual word.

Get your friends and family involved.  WOMM works best when it initially starts with people who already know and trust your brand and products, as they will spread the word to their friends and family. Ask them to wear your pieces to parties and functions and to help it get notice.  Women always comment on other women’s clothing and the majority of the time, also ask where it’s from.  Look into this within your social networks whether it’s your family, friends or professional life and identify the people who garner the attention of others without even trying and get them to promote your products, maybe give them some free clothes to wear as a good will of gesture.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the marketing jazz, however you need to remember to be honest about your product and brand. Especially for a startup company there is less room for negative feedback.  If something does go amiss accept responsibility and make amends, this will create trust and rapport with your consumers.

Online fashion is a highly competitive industry, not only are you competing against big brands who have already built the rapport with consumers but you are also competing against their offers such as delivery time, pricing, brand trust etc. Unfortunately, what makes consumers buy from an online fashion store is not entirely dependent on their love of the particular piece.

Social networking is also a great form of WOMM, keep your social networks up to date with regular posts and pictures of your designs. Besides Facebook and blogs it is also a great idea to get onto Pinterest, especially for your industry. Not only can you post images of your designs, you can create ‘boards’ reflecting your inspirations and gain ideas there yourself!  If you don’t yet have a social communications channel, you can contact Netregistry to discuss your options.

What brand or product have you purchased due to word of mouth?