Self-Generating Demand: How to Use Word of Mouth to Sell Your Product

Mckinsey & Co. developed a list of ideas that can launch effective word of mouth (WOM) influence.

Design the Product to be Unique or Visible
The only innovations that are worthy of buzz are those that have something unique about them and are visible. The new Ford pickup truck probably wont get much buzz attention, but something like the new Hummer concept probably will. The innovation also has to be highly visible or has to confer status. If a lot of opinion leaders are invited to a pre-showing of a movie, it would be an example of conferred status. It gives a sense of status to the individuals. If wow is a good word to describe your product then you have probably mastered this principle.

Select and Seed the Innovators
Innovators are the ones that try an innovation before anyone else in that area of interest. As a marketer for your product you should try to identify this group of people and then do as much as possible to encourage this group to adopt your innovation.

Ration Supply
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. People have a strong desire for things that they cannot own. Therefore marketers find the use of scarcity to be a very useful tool in generating demand. Think about the craze for the Sony PS3’s. People (including me) waited in line for days to make sure they got one as soon as they came out. It became an epidemic. All the available PS3’s were sold immediately on the release date.

Use Celebrity Icons
When celebrities use something it generates excitement about the product. Enough said.

Tap the Power of Lists
There are top lists for everything. Top restaurants, top colleges, top golfing locations, and your name it. If you can get your innovation or company on a top list it will help consumers cut through the advertising clutter and find you more easily. It is also a very useful tool for buzz creation. So find some list and get on it. Well not all lists, it might not be a good idea to get on the “Worst You Name It” of the year.

Nurture the Grass Roots
And no, I don’t mean the little plants in your lawn, I mean the process of getting the adopters to get other consumers to adopt too. Try and create incentives that will encourage the adopters to spread the word about your product. Maybe you could offer and discount if they get a new person to buy your product or use your service, but whatever the case, don’t rely on letting word of mouth spread on its own. Help it along.

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