Around every purchase decision, transaction and negotiation, there’s a network of conversations going on online. Not just between brands and the customer, but involving a complex matrix of friends, retailers, experts, reviewers and bloggers, all offering opinions and making recommendations. The result is that, whether overtly, covertly or inadvertently, a huge range of people are bringing influence to bear on our product decisions.
Not so long ago, it was accepted that the key to success in marketing was creating a competitive advantage for a brand by shouting louder, more often and for longer than the competition. Today, that mass media model no longer works, and being able to get involved with the conversation about your brand and exert some sort of influence is crucial.
Marketers need to look beyond the traditional buyer and seller relationship to identify all the influencers within every channel and then win them over. To do this effectively, they need to be skilled at identifying who their influencers are and developing strategies and communications that talk to them in an appropriate and targeted way; whether that be through social media, professional endorsement or other channels.
Marketers need to be looking at creating a suite of individually tailored complementary messages designed to harness key influencers’ support and get them on-side as vital players in the sales team.
So, if as this survey suggests, word of mouth could be even more powerful than we previously thought, harnessing the power of influence is more important than ever.
Ed Hughes, Managing director, GHMC