Word of Mouth vs Viral Marketing

Word of Mouth Marketing
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Word-of-mouth marketing or viral marketing? What's the difference? 

Recently I shared with you a few tips on how to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your business. I received a few emails as well as comment post on the difference between word-of-mouth marketing and viral marketing, so I figured what better time to explore the differences in these two types of marketing. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is when a business does something and their consumer tells five to ten friends.

Word-of-mouth marketing has an echo affect. The initial sound is loud and then it fades into the background. 

Viral marketing unlike word-of-mouth marketing has a compounding affect. A consumer tells five to ten people and then those five to ten people tell another five to ten people. The driving force behind most viral campaigns is the passion a consumer carries. It's like a virus that continuously infects more people and spreads without requiring anymore marketing effort. 

While the two are similar as you can see they are not the same. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is a key component to the growth of a small business. It's often word-of-mouth marketing that keeps small businesses running in the early days of operation when there is little to no marketing budget. The consumer shares their experience with your products or services and they share it with their family and friends. This increases your consumer base and increases your sales.

 

Viral marketing is more about reaching out and touching the passion point of your consumer, so that the passion drives the message and the message continues to reach the masses without assistance from you. You can orchestrate a viral campaign, but very seldom are viral campaigns that are orchestrated as successful as those that are just driven by the passion of a consumer.

In order for it to reach a level of success your consumer must feel they have a personal stake and investment in the success of your campaign. 

It's important to also realize that the success of a viral campaign depends on the vehicles use to transmit the message. There are companies that are more virally equipped than others. In order to create a strong viral link the message must be able to transport from television advertising, to radio and other extended means of broadcasting to the power of the Internet.  

Let's take a look at a few examples: 

Word of Mouth Marketing Examples 

Starbucks – Starbucks depends on word of mouth for their marketing, you will find that they avoid the transactional advertising in favor of word of mouth marketing.   They invest in their social media programs to further the word of mouth push and encourage customers to comments and share.  

Red Bull – You'll see very little when it comes to advertising when it comes to Red Bull, they focus more on driving word of mouth through event marketing.

 One prime event that does well for them is the Red Bull Wings Team.  This group drives around in Red Bull brand vehicles sharing sampels of Red Bull. 

Coca-Cola – Remember the HillTop ad that Coca Cola did? If not, perhaps the lyrics will spark a memory - "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke."  Is the song stuck in your head?  This jingle had the whole world singing and if that weren't enough it was recently revisted on the Mad Man series that had everyone humming it again.  The song spoke of unity and tolerance and as consumers we gravitated to it and shared it.  

Viral Marketing Examples 

Mad Men Yourself – Speaking of Mad Men during the third season of Mad Men they worked to create buzz through an application called Mad Men Yourself.  The application as an avatar creator that helped you to create an avatar that made a 60s stylized version of yourself.  The site received over half a million visitors the first week.   After five years you can still use the application and it's going strong.  

Dove – Choose the Beautiful -  This was a campaign that showed a viral video of a woman walking through a revolving door that said either "average" or "beautiful."  This campaign appealed to the emotion of women, it was relatable and women shared it.  In the process it taught the meaning of "true beauty." It wasn't about advertising product, it was about sharing a message everyone could relate to.    

In conclusion the major different between word-of-mouth marketing and viral is that word-of-mouth is often driven by you the marketer or business owner and viral marketing driven by the passion of your consumers and it's success does not depend on you.

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