I'm a copywriter who has been honing his craft for 25 years now. If you want to team up with someone capable of turning words into weapons of mass persuasion, look no further my friend. You're dealing with a professional practitioner of persuasion.
Sometimes I really think I'm the man. This is not one of those times.
Am I merely experiencing a momentary lapse of confidence? Doubtful. You see, though my Klout score's been notching-up nicely in recent months, my real clout, my ability to get you to buy, seems to be skewing south. It's a tad sad. But it is what it is.
The consumer wields the power now.
You want to know why I'm suddenly feeling so small and insignificant? You already do. You don't trust me. As a card-carrying member of the advertising copywriter club, my words are bought. I'm a chronic exaggerator. The thought leaders of today go as far as calling me a liar. Ouch.
And you? You who's never written a single piece of direct mail. You who'd walk barefoot over broken glass before attempting to compose a simple sales letter. Armed with a mouse, track pad or mobile phone, you have become the new king of cred. You, Mister or Misses Consumer, are the real influencer now.
E-commerce has become F-commerce.
If you don't think e-commerce has ravaged the shopping landscape, what do you say we meet down at Borders Books to get a jolt of java? What? That store shut down? What happened?
Again, you know the answer. Amazon happened. And that's not all that happened. iTunes happened. MySpace happened. Facebook happened.
And so what's happening now is F-commerce. Technically, "F" is for Facebook. However, in my mind, Facebook stands for social media. In marketing, social media has come to mean social commerce and social commerce has come to mean the things your friends, and the people you follow, have to say is F-ing enormous.
The voice of the consumer is loud.
Your customer's opinion of your brand or product outranks the copywriter's voice. It outranks the CEO's voice too. This relatively recent phenomenon goes by a number of names. "Peer-to-peer marketing" works well to describe it in general and "word of mouse" is a tasty new millennium slant on the most powerful form of advertising ever: word of mouth.
The Internet acts as a massive amplifier. When someone has something to say about your brand, he or she can be in a room all by their lonesome with an audience of zero. But with Internet access, that bodacious little voice can easily echo across the world.
Capitalize on the power of social commerce.
Now that consumers depend on each other to decide what brands and products are worthy of their time and money, it's essential to encourage positive word of mouth. Consider putting some of the following practices in place:
- Give customers access to online communications tools.
- Strategically target specific communities and interest groups.
- Recruit brand advocates and support their efforts.
- Engage with your customers.
- Generate success stories.
- Start discussions.
- Give people reasons to discuss your brand.
- Create ads and articles worthy of sharing.
- Be honest.
- Understand your influencers and the channels they rely on.
- Exceed customer expectations.
- Convert unhappy customers to happy customers by any means necessary.
Who's truly trustworthy?
Perhaps the thing an objective and well-intentioned copywriter can do for you now is deliver the truth. Here are some research findings, which might humble the copywriting professional, but help you:
- 54% of US adults identified old-fashioned Word of Mouth as the most important influencer of purchase decisions. (Source: 2011 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report by Experian)
- 62% of people trust reviews from friends, family and colleagues. (Lightspeed Research 2011)
- 56% trust reviews from other consumers. (Lightspeed Research 2011)
- 60% of shoppers said online reviews were more significant than traditional media, in-store employees and social networking. (Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group study, 2011)
- In-store smartphone research influences 39% of walkouts. (IBM survey, Capitalizing on the Smarter Consumer, 2011)
The public is your brand brigade.
So, you work with a highly experienced copywriter? Cool. As one of them, I'd like to think where marketing communications is concerned, you want persuasion pros pitching in to shape your advertising. You also have a great PR company? Awesome. Shaping your messages to the media is very important. And finally, your CEO is the bomb. When he or she speaks, people listen. All good.
But what about the real influencer, your customer, your consumer, the real catalyst of your communications? I sincerely hope you place them in the highest regard because whether or not they can write well, to write them off may amount to writing your company's eulogy.
Word of mouth is the most genuine, trusted, and persuasive form of marketing. It always has been and it always will be.
Chime in now... How have your customers shaped your brand?