The age old adage pertaining to “word of mouth” advertising still holds true, “Make a customer happy, and he will tell one other person; make the customer unhappy, and he will tell 20 others”. However, with the power of the internet, this impact has grown exponentially, as word of mouth published in blogs, websites, and community bulletin boards are read by millions of eyes, far exceeding the physical limitations of actually verbally telling someone about a company.
Buying the power of “Word of Mouth”
With that said, corporations continue to tap into word of mouth advertising, but on a larger World Wide Web level. According to PQ Media’s “word of mouth” marketing forecast, companies are continuously increasing their spending on citizen marketing, growing from $980 million in 2006 to $1 billion in 2007. With the weakening of the economy and signs of a continued recession for 2009, expect these spending numbers to grow at greater rates. In fact, by 2011, it is anticipated that this marketing figure will grow to approximately $4 billion.
Fortune 500 companies are cashing in on the power of citizen marketing through brand ambassadors. Formerly considered a spokesperson or token PR individual, today’s brand ambassador is equipped with the power of Web 2.0, thus reaching an exponentially larger audience.
Just to name a few, Jet Blue, Macy’s, and Sony have launched rigorous marketing campaigns based upon brand ambassadors, who are everyday citizens armed with word of mouth recommendations. For example, Sony named 25 brand ambassadors to promote their new digital cameras. Armed with the technology, these brand ambassadors were given the digital cameras, encouraged to take photos of their every day activities and blog their perspectives.
Citizen Marketing levels the playing field
This unique marketing strategy is not limited to the big corporations. In fact, a small business can take advantage of this marketing strategy as effectively as Fortune 500 companies. With the internet and the power of viral word of mouth marketing, a small business can make as much of a splash as Sony.
However, while brand ambassadors can be a tremendous asset to a corporation’s marketing efforts, managing them is not necessarily an easy task. In order to successfully execute a citizen marketing campaign, a company must fully select, train, and manage individuals who will be effective brand ambassadors, instead of simply paid endorsers. In addition, not all business models are suited for the brand ambassador strategy.
Collaboration Marketing: Hassle-free Brand Ambassadors
With that said, any business can take the fundamental benefits of brand ambassadors, word of mouth advertising, and citizen marketing, and apply them to a collaborative marketing strategy. A collaborative marketing strategy shares the fundamental core of citizen marketing, but is much easier to implement and manage. You still achieve the same benefits of having brand ambassadors, which provides credibility and knowledge to the marketplace, without the hassles of training and managing a team of citizens.
To find a collaborative marketing partnership that will offer you the same rewards as a brand ambassador and word of mouth campaign, it is important to locate a company that has credibility and sway with its customer base. Without a credible, interactive relationship with their clients, their “word of mouth” recommendations are likely to fall to the wayside, which does not necessarily bode well for your company’s reputation. Yet, the effort is certainly worth the results, as a synergistic collaborative marketing relationship is likely to open your business to exponentially larger customer base and revenues.