BusinessDay

Word of mouth marketing vs. viral marketing

A good way of getting into this topic is to ask, “is there any difference between word-of-mouth marketing and viral marketing?” In this article, we will discuss the difference(s) between these two types of marketing that are commonly used by different brands.

The Same but Different
While the two are similar, as many will say or attest to, they are not exactly the same.
Word-of-mouth marketing is when a business does something, and their consumers tells five to ten friends. Word-of-mouth marketing has an echo effect. The initial sound is loud, and then it fades into the background.

Viral marketing, unlike word-of-mouth marketing, has a compounding effect. A satisfied and impressed customer 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 customer carries. It’s like a virus that continuously infects more people and spreads without requiring any more marketing effort.

Word-of-mouth marketing is a key component in 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 or they are still struggling to establish themselves against existing competition. The customer shares their experience with your products or services, and they share it with their family and friends. It increases your customer base and increases your sales.

Viral marketing is more about reaching out and touching the passion point of your customer 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 customer. For it to reach a level of success your customers must feel they have a personal stake and investment in the success of your campaign.

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It’s important also to realise that the success of a viral campaign depends on the vehicles used to transmit the message. There are companies that are more virally equipped than others. 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:
Examples of Word-of-Mouth marketing

Aboniki Balm
This essential balm has not only made its way into our consciousness but its effectiveness is near legendary. Very few people actually know or care to know where Aboniki balm is made but it is widely used and scores high in relieving joint and muscle pains, among others. Aboniki balm runs minimal advertisement if it does at all but its sustaining power is its top-of-the-mind recall as a must-have in every home, hospitals, schools and more. After 30 years, Aboniki is still going strong, riding on word-of-mouth

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 and sponsorship. Red Bull has registered itself as a prime brand in the popular sport of football, especially with the remarkable successes of Red Bull-owned football clubs, including RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga, RB Salzburg in the Austrian League, New York Red Bulls playing in the US Major League Soccer as well as RB Bragantino of Brazil. Another prime event that does well for them is the Red Bull Racing team that competes in the increasingly popular Formula One (F1). Infact, defending FI champion, Max Verstappen races drives for the Oracle Red Bull team

Coca-Cola
Remember the Hill top ad that Coca-Cola did years back? 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 revisited on the award-winning Mad Man series and that had everyone humming it again. The song spoke of unity and tolerance, and as consumers, we gravitated to it and shared it.

Starbucks
Starbucks depends on word of mouth for their marketing; you will find that they avoid the transactional advertising in favour of word-of-mouth marketing. They invest in their social media programmes to further the word-of-mouth push and encourage customers to comments and share. This approach has worked tremendously for the brand so well that it is well known in places that it doesn’t operate in.

Example of Viral marketing
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.

Last line
The major difference between word-of-mouth marketing and viral marketing 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 its success does not depend on you.

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