Marketers should tap into non-ad brand conversations

By Wenlei Ma | 23 October 2013

Seventy-eight percent of brand conversations aren't prompted by advertising, but marketers can harness this chatter to create evangelists, argues word-of-mouth expert Geno Church.

Speaking to marketers and adlanders this morning at the Influence Group breakfast, Church recited the statistic. He said: “Advertising prompts only 22% of conversations people have about a brand. That means 78% of conversations about brands aren't related to advertising. That's a giant playground of touchpoints.”

Church, who is the word-of-mouth inspiration officer for Brains on Fire in South Carolina, defines word-of-mouth marketing as any business action that earns a recommendation from a customer. He advocates that brands need to understand why people talk about them instead of blindly, and inauthentically, executing social media strategies just to tick a box.

“If we understand why people talk, we have a greater chance of inspiring them to talk,” said Church. “Brands can bring people together, we can connect customers with other customers who share a passion.”

To that point, Church argued, brands can, and should, harness the 78% of conversations about them that are unprompted by advertising. He said the industry should engage and undertake more research to understand in understanding consumer touchpoints – how people are introduced to the brand, their first interaction, when they adopted the brand and when they evangelised it.

He added: “That's where the opportunity is. As marketers, we should be able to find a way to get into consumers' lives and add value to it. Then they will become a messenger and the message will be what we create, which is beautiful.”

Geno was quick to point out word-of-mouth marketing is not just about social media, it is about private person-to-person conversations.

“Brands must therefore embrace and encourage people talking in their private settings. The power of that conversation is invaluable as consumers want brands to see them as a family member or friend.”

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