“Modern marketing needs to respectfully meet the needs of customers on their terms instead of aiming to manipulate buyer behavior, opinions, and emotional states as we did in the old days.” -Mark Schaefer
As you plan how to spend your marketing budget, there’s a wide variety of channels you can consider. To help narrow things down a bit, Disruptive Marketing suggests honing in on just six channels to earn the highest return on your valuable investment:
- Pay-Per-Click Marketing
- Social Media
- Your website or app
- Word of Mouth
Even with this list of six effective channels, you still have a lot of decisions to make. Should you hire an agency to help you develop Google and Facebook ads? Conduct an audit of your website’s SEO performance? Or how about creating a more friendly environment on your social media channels? Any of those efforts might bring in a substantial, immediate benefit.
But, which channel do 92% of consumers believe in more than advertising, 74% of consumers identify as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions, and only 33% of businesses are actively seeking out. Matt Warren of Big Commerce urges you to focus on the one powerful, often overlooked, and underutilized channel. He also suggests that this strategy “at the heart of your business can lay the foundation on which to build everything else from.”
In his latest book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, Mark Schaefer proposes, “the brands of the past were created through an accumulation of advertising impressions. The brands of the future will be created through an accumulation of human impressions.”
Heart and human impressions—lean into those concepts for a moment. Now, go back and take a second look at the list of those six marketing channels. Which one feels like a “heart and human” experience? Which moves in this modern marketing direction while staying rooted in its ability to create real connection?
The answer is Word of Mouth.
It’s so simple and you may feel like it’s been staring you in the face all this time. And yet the gravity of creating a human, connected brand also starts to sink in. How is it accomplished in a natural way?
Mark Schaefer cautions that the harder brands push toward humanness, the more artificial they can become. (In other words, don’t become a grape human.) He says, “There’s no shortcut. Business is driven by efficiency, algorithms, and automation. In other words, everything customers hate. In the real world, a human being is a friend. Human beings have faces, names, stories. Human beings make mistakes. They apologize. They might even be vulnerable. If we want to achieve the real human connection we preach about, we’re going to have to put in the work.”
This may sound fairly obvious, but the best way to help your brand feel more human is adding actual humans. At ExpertVoice, we spend a lot of time talking about our most-valued resource—experts, but we want you to understand that each of these experts is a real person with a story, experiences, passion, someone who makes mistakes sometimes, and has a desire to make a difference.
Experts add an invaluable human, connected experience to your brand’s narrative through Word of Mouth Marketing. They are, after all, the very people who are out there scaling mountains, teaching baking classes, tying flies for fishing and interacting with pet owners to help them choose the best dog food at the store.
Experts share recommendations on a daily basis and most agree they won’t share without personal experience with the product. They agree that the best reward for sharing a recommendation not about money, but about sharing their passion and expertise with others. You can read all about what makes a person an expert, how often they share recommendations, why they share, and who they share with in this informative e-book, “Considering Influence: The new art of word of mouth marketing”.
We’ll leave you with this thought. In the same blog post mentioned above, Schaefer quotes renowned marketing author Dr. Philip Kotler, “Brands should be more like humans. Approachable. Likable. Vulnerable.” If that is your goal (and we think it should be), let us help you find your heart and humanness.