The 4 different stages to shape your word of mouth

When faced with making a decision there are four major phases people go through:

1. Information stage – you cast around, sourcing data to establish your available options become aware of options

2. Verification stage – you try to find confirmatory evidence to discover if your information is true, where you decide-to-decide, and ultimately select among your options.

3. Implement/on-going use stage – your own feedback from trial determines whether you abandon or expand commitment to decision.

4. Advocacy stage (both negative or positive) – you decide to go beyond neutral to either positive or negative advocacy in your own w-o-m.

The more specifically you tailor your w-o-m messages to the relevant stage in the decision-making process the more effective they will be.

In the Information stage accuracy and availability of your information is crucial. At the verification stage third-party testimonials and case studies can be used to provide confirmatory evidence.

Different w-o-m strategies work in different parts of the adoption of ideas or products cycle.

They can be used to not only secure positive w-o-m but also speed-up the decision-making process.

The need for w-o-m information will also depend on the relationships between w-o-m sender and receiver. These relationships can be characterised as:

  • expert to expert, where information is more important than verification
  • expert to non-expert, where w-o-m confirmation and verification are more important than information

Each of the above networks will require different w-o-m seeding in both content and in the initial dissemination of the message.

By recognising these different dimensions pubic relations and marketing communications professionals can significantly boost the power a impact of their word of mouth.

These tips are just a few of the 101 different tips an ideas being offered to public relations and marketing professionals in the first ‘Word of Mouth and Viral Marketing course being run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

The half day training course takes place in Londonon the afternoon of Friday November 11th. Places are limited, to book your place visit www.cipr.co.uk or ring 0207 631 6900.

The course has been devised and will be delivered by Andy GreenFCIPR. His book ‘Effective Personal Communication Sills for PR’, part of the Institute’s PR in Practice series, was one of the first PR texts to cover word of mouth and memes.

Sharing examples from the work of Edward Bernays to the latest cutting edge campaigns, you will go away telling your friends how you can manage your word-of-mouth, how to create positive messages about you, what you do and what you stand for.

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