In a study conducted by Milward Brown, South Africa was the world’s leaderin spreading positive stories about a brand. It found that 86% of the nation isextremely likely to recommend a brand to another person.
“That’s powerful stuff if you’re amarketer trying to find a competitive edge in an environment where only 14% ofthe population trusts advertising,” says Jason Stewart, founder ofword-of-mouth marketing agency HaveYouHeard.
Until now, marketers and businessowners haven’t harnessed the full potential of word-of-mouth. “In the US it’s abillion dollar business that’s growing at a rate of 30% a year, and I realisedthat there was a huge gap in the South African market for an agency likeHaveYouHeard,” says Stewart. In an ever-tightening FMCG market, word-of-mouthis an obvious choice for marketers looking for measurement and ROI. “Thesecampaigns can evoke action by the consumer, leading to increased sales, whichis what we all want especially in the current economic climate,” he adds.
He focuses on “getting the right peopleto say the right things” about a brand using unique profiling and measurementsoftware. As Stewart explains, “We have a database made up of a vast network ofpre-qualified ‘influencers’ – people who have an influential voice in aparticular sector and have the potential to spread word-of-mouth to 60individuals in a three-month period. We then educate them about a client’sproduct, allow them to experience it for a certain period of time and theninteract with them to get feedback on a number of different measurementindicators via a dedicated web portal.”
Influencer responses are tracked andmeasured. “We use something called the Net Promoter Score, which is a globalscore indicating the likelihood of someone recommending a product to someoneelse. This allows us to give clients accurate details on their return oninvestment,” says Stewart. The agency goes back to influencers after three tofour months to track whether they are still talking about or using the product,thereby ensuring long-term sustainability of a client’s campaign.
Anopportunity to respond
Having a great product is undoubtedly avital part of securing success, but as Stewart points out, even negativefeedback from influencers is valuable. “If people don’t like your productthey’re going to say negative things about it, but at least now brand managerscan be in touch with it. It gives them the opportunity to fix problems andchange perceptions from negative to positive,” he says. In an environment where 92% ofconsumers say they are more willing to trust a word-of-mouth recommendation, Stewartis banking on the fact that this should fast become a tool that marketerssimply can’t do without. HaveYouHeard’s already-impressive client listindicates he’s on the money. Formore information, call +27 21 424 6626, or visit www.haveyouheard.co.za