Word of mouth for a new product can make the difference between launching to a fanfare and a queue around the block, and a damp squib of an affair that barely leaves a mark.
But how do you ensure great word of mouth as an outcome of your launch activities? We believe it is by taking a collaborative approach to your marketing: putting consumers centre stage and involving them in the process. If you make your launch about their experience of your product, they will thank you for it. And they will talk about it. And as 92% of consumers trust recommendations over any other form of advertising, empowering your consumers to work with you has never been more relevant.
Word of mouth starts by identifying the consumers who are really passionate about your category; clean freaks will swoon over a new Limescale remover and budding beauticians at the mere mention of a new serum. Access to a community of the right people via the right digital platform enables you to do this at scale. If instead of identifying 100 influencers, you involve 1,000 or 10,000 real people, suddenly the level of awareness, or trial or online buzz they’ll generate becomes quite formidable. But only if you use a platform built for this purpose – many ‘social’ platforms are surprisingly unsociable.
Next you need to connect, really connect, in meaningful and genuine way – the key is to create a VIP experience that makes the consumer feel special, like an insider. To do this you first need to understand what is important to them, and then equip them with the tools to enable them to spread the word in a way that resonates within. This could be product, it could be content or info, it could be as simple as opening a feedback channel. Think about how you can inspire people, make them feel special, entertain them.
And you can start talking to the consumers who will have the greatest impact on your sales, before your new product even hits the shelves. In a truly collaborative approach your consumers should be involved right from the start. What do they think of the concept? Do they need it? Do they love it? They will almost certainly be able to suggest how to improve it. By listening to your consumers and tweaking the product accordingly throughout the NPD (New Product Development) stage, you will have a much better, more desirable product come launch. And you’ll already have a base of connected fans ready to go out and spread the word about the amazing product they helped develop – now that is worth talking about.
There’s nothing more human than sharing information and suggesting new things to friends, it’s how we’re wired. Recommendations are powerful and they resonate. The trick that companies must master to ensure a successful product launch is how to harness this power, and use it to their and their consumers' benefit.
By Rebekah Mackay Miller, MD of trnd UK.
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