WORD-OF-MOUTH: THE BEST MARKETING TOOL

word of mouth

As marketers, we know it’s personal. There are so many tools brands can implement to boost sales, but none are as effective and highly trusted by consumers as recommendations from friends and family. As a brand, it may be hard to conceptualize how to get people talking and genuinely recommending your products. But if you can manage to make it happen, the payoff is big. Word-of-mouth marketing generates twice the sales of paid advertisements.

According to extensive consumer studies, word-of-mouth marketing is the most highly trusted and effective marketing tool. A staggering statistic, 75% of consumers do not trust ads while over 90% of consumers believe brand recommendations from friends. People are four times more likely to buy products when referred by friends.

How can brands facilitate the rise of something as organic as personal recommendations?

User-generated Content

Brands can align with user-generated content to connect to their market. User generated content comes directly from consumers—including positive information about brands and testimonials. This type of honest, organic content builds trust and gives marketers extra material for sharing. 86% of millennials trust this type of content as a good indicator of a brand. Campaigns that work particularly well for compiling user-generated content include viral hashtags and reposting consumer media praising the product or service.

Reviews and Testimonials

Like user-generated content, testimonials garner high levels of trust. 79% of consumers trust product/ service reviews and testimonials as much as they trust personal recommendations. On the brand side, adding ratings and reviews to a website can generate as much as 18% more sales. Companies like Amazon utilize this tool notably well. While showcasing positive reviews, companies must also be mindful of negative feedback. Responding proactively to negative review and testimonials with quick and thoughtful language is essential to getting ahead of any content that may harm your brand. Since reviews come so highly trusted, negative reviews are of equal importance and must not be ignored.

Incentive and Referrals

To elicit word-of-mouth marketing, brands often use an incentive or referral program to create new users. Offering customers a discount or free gift for sharing with friends works well for generating word-of-mouth referrals. Effective examples of this are credit card companies offering cash incentives for referrals and Planet Fitness’ points referral program. For the same reason people love giving gifts, happy customers want to share with their friends. Offering a reward in exchange proves incredibly effective for generating organic outreach.

Influencers

We already know the importance of influencers. They earned their name. In fact, the most valuable word-of-mouth recommendations come not from friends or family, but from influencers. 40% of people said they’ve purchased an item based off their recommendations. Win influencers over with exclusive free product trials or by mentioning them in your brand social content.

How are you using word-of-mouth marketing to build your brand power? Join us in the discussion and tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG.

MANAGING FAKE NEWS IN THE REAL WORLD

As you may remember, in 2016, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as the word of the year, beating out noteworthy competitors such as “adulting,” “woke” and perhaps my personal favorite, “coulrophobia,” which refers to “the extreme or irrational fear of clowns.” So why, then, was “post-truth” 2016’s word of the year rather than one of its equally made-up-sounding opponents?

Well, for starters, the word is still incredibly timely, even two years later. We may or may not be living in a world where what people want to hear matters more than what’s actually true. Some of you may recognize this all-too-familiar disconnect when you come across what we as a collective have started referring to as “fake news,” or a type of yellow journalism that deliberately propagates misinformation and hoaxes in order to mislead and increase readership. But why would posting false information increase readership? Good question.

On the one hand, readership is already on the side of fake news with more than 80 percent of college students struggling to identify biased content from the facts. Basically, this means that nearly every college student surveyed may be reading fake news—at any given time—and not even know it.

On the other hand, the way we get our news is changing, and unfortunately, it’s changing on the side of fake news. According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of U.S. citizens ages 18-29 use social networking sites (like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to get a daily download of trends and top headlines, while 69 percent of those within the same demographic use the Internet in a broader sense to get their news. In this situation, the “Internet” can refer to anything from USA Today to The Onion (yikes).

But wait—while you’re falling back in your seat overtaken by shock and awe that anyone would think an article entitled “Bath & Body Works Now Offering Free Lotion Tastings” is real news—keep in mind that social media use among those with less than a bachelor’s degree increased to 69 percent in 2017. Those with lower education levels are especially vulnerable to the tricky and insidious nature of fake news, and what’s even worse? Those individuals are the top targets as well as the heaviest disseminators.

Before you get too comfortable up on your high horse, remember that we’re all susceptible to fake news. How many of us have clicked on a sensational headline at the bottom of a webpage or while scrolling through Facebook’s newsfeed just to see what all of the hub bub is about? We’re human beings – it’s in our nature to be curious. Articles that pique our interest in this way are known as “clickbait,” and while their headlines go viral quickly and may seem harmless (if not humorous), sometimes real lives are caught in the balance.

So, how can we escape the vicious cycle that is the fake “newsiverse” (2018’s word of the year, anyone? Oh, come on!)? As marketing, advertising and PR professionals, spotting and avoiding fake news is a necessary part of the job. The last thing you want to do is advise your retail client to offer free lotion tastings because The Onion said it’s trendy. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide, courtesy of the International Federation of Library Associates (IFLA), that depicts how to vet all news sources for accuracy and objectivity.

Have some of your own tips and experiences with fake news that you’d like to share? Tweet at us @DEVENEYMKTG or find us on Facebook here.

SOUNDS OF SUCCESS: MY PR ASSOCIATE PLAYLIST

Spotify x DEVENEY associate

I used to wonder what the soundtrack to my life would be. Then I realized I couldn’t make a playlist long enough. So, I started with a day. Whether it’s my keyboard clicking beneath my fingers as I write a press release, or the rattle of the streetcar on its tracks during my morning commute to work, every day here is punctuated by sounds.  Our playlists reflect a lot about us, so this is a day in my life as a Public Relations Associate at DEVENEY, told through my daily Spotify playlists. 

Morning

Every morning, I wake up an hour before I leave the house. After a few hits on the snooze button, I play my favorite Wake Up playlist. I’m not naturally a morning person, so this playlist features lively tunes to kickstart my day. As an Associate at an engagement agency, I have to stay sharp. Things move quickly here, and a crisis project can happen anytime. Starting my day with this energetic flow pushes me into starting my day at my best.

I commute to work on the streetcar every morning and listen to different podcasts to pass the time. I love the Mindvalley podcast for tapping into my potential and productivity. Mindvalley helps me tap into my creative flow. This allows me to start my day with confidence and mental energy.

Before lunch, I listen to something calm to get me in the zone. I focus and organize myself, check my emails. start projects, go to meetings, and establish a flow. 

Afternoon

I don’t listen to music during lunch, but if I did it would be the DEVENEY happy songs playlist. This playlist captures the office atmosphere and the spirit of the neighborhood.  I love exploring the beautiful Lower Garden District neighborhood during my break and trying restaurants nearby. My favorite is Lilly’s, their spicy tofu is heavenly. 

In the afternoon to jumpstart my productivity and knock out any deadlines, I listen to POLLEN. This eclectic playlist feels fresh and sunny with interesting new songs that keep focused and alert. This playlist helps me channel creative flow into writing talking points, conducting client research, building media lists or assisting with speaker training binder development.

Music inspires me to reach my goals and put my best (tapping) foot forward.

If you’re interested in joining the team, apply now to the Associate Program. The opportunity lasts for 12 weeks, starting in January. Associates may work a maximum of 20 hours per week. Interested students should apply by October 31, 2018 to be considered. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, relevant writing samples, and/or portfolio examples to AssociateProgram@deveney.com. 

 

WE CONTINUE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

In our latest one-minute and nine-second video, DEVENEY showcases some of our latest and greatest work.

Whether it is for the travel and tourism, hospitality, or food and beverage industries, we strive to make our clients top-of-mind across the nation.

DEVENEY has continued to shine as an industry leader – targeting highly sought-after millennials by incorporating social media influencers, Snapchat filters and strategic digital ads while continuing to foster traditional media connections along the way.

In the world of over-influence, we have been charged with standing out without losing the authenticity of our clients. For example, Windsor Court,  a New Orleans luxury hotel, offered a Royal Wedding Weekend Getaway for those who couldn’t make it across the pond to Windsor Castle for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials.

Another interesting tactic we implemented for the hotel just one year prior focused on a vastly different topic. Since Windsor Court is pet friendly, we coordinated and hosted a local New Orleans mini pig influencer, (that’s right – I said pig) My Best Friend Hank, to enjoy the hotel’s amenities. You can even see the cute Snapchat filter we designed and implemented for a meet and greet with the pig around the :55 mark in the video.

We’ve talked about this until we’re blue in the face – this is the age of experiences. We are constantly searching for the best photo-op to post on Insta-stories or feeds. We’re asking how our trip to Iceland be better than that of our millennial friend or blogger/influencer. DEVENEY strives to answer those questions by curating top-notch creative content that tells stories in New Orleans and beyond. And we want to do it for you.

Like what you see and want to learn more? Ask us anything on Twitter using #DEVchat or @DEVENEYMKTG.

HOW TO BEST UTILIZE YOUR INTERNS

Utilizing Interns

As a college student, I knew that the goal was to score a full-time position at the agency of your dreams, but to succeed, the small steps come first. Enter: The Life of an Intern. To work your way to the top, you have to start at the bottom (even as a college graduate). But guess what? The bottom isn’t so bad if you work for a company that treats you like an asset instead of an errand boy.

I love working for DEVENEY as an Associate (they don’t even call us interns) because they give me actual work. I feel that my presence is necessary, and that my time is being put to good use.

Below are the top 10 ways to best utilize your company’s interns from the perspective of, well, an intern.

Treat Them with Respect

There’s a saying here in New Orleans: “Be Nice or Leave.” Those are words to live by. The best places to work, including DEVENEY, have at least one thing in common: their employees get along and work well as a team. Keep in mind that people in the workforce will not always be nice—c’est la vie—but if you want your interns to work hard and turn out the best possible work, be nice to them. It feels good to be included, and when you feel good, you do your job well.

Be Clear, Concise and Timely

It is difficult to get to work when you don’t know what you’re working toward or how you’re going to get there. Be patient with your interns – some may still be in school and learning the ropes of the real world. Encourage them to think for themselves, but don’t shoot them down for asking a question about an assignment. After a briefing, send them an email to outline what you discussed. This way, they have in writing what you are expecting from them, how they should attack it efficiently, and when it’s due.

Teach Them What You Wish You’d Known

Interns are constantly learning, and it benefits both you and them to spread your knowledge about the profession, or what you wish you had known when you were their age. DEVENEY assigns “buddies” to all employees as part of a peer mentorship initiative, but they are especially useful for entry-level positions where every day can feel more overwhelming than the next. Make your interns listen, whether they like it or not. It never hurts to impart a little “back in my day…” wisdom.

Ask Them for Advice!

DEVENEY encourages “reverse-mentoring,” or the process by which seasoned employees attempt to learn a little about the ever-changing trends and practices of the younger generation from—you guessed it—the youngins themselves. Take advantage of their knowledge and experience.

Many brands are directly marketing to their age group, but their preferences and interests are constantly changing. Use this fluidity for the benefit of your internal and client relations. Maybe the company Instagram needs a touch-up, ask an intern, chances are they checked theirs less than five minutes ago.

Encourage Team Bonding

Invite your interns to casual lunches, after-work celebrations, or even out for drinks. An internship is an opportunity to get to know professionals in the workforce on more than just a “Hi, my name is…” basis, and it’s an opportunity for employers to get the word out about how great their company is to people who will soon be applying for full-time positions. Every day at the office can be like a networking event (but with less nametags and schmoozing), and a chance for your interns to build their resumes while also building your company’s reputation as a great place to work.

Give Them Real Projects, Not Just Busywork

It’s a waste of everyone’s time to hand out useless work. There is no need to spend your valuable (and billable) time making up assignments for interns who will be able to tell they are made up. Give them a project, or ask them to handle smaller tasks that will make your life easier.

DEVENEY requires all interns to handle the recruitment materials for the next class, providing us with our own concrete project complete with deadlines, deliverables, a timeline, as well as roles and responsibilities. If we don’t work together to get it done, it won’t get done, and that’s a lesson that needs to be learned quickly in any position.

Make Them Answer Their Own Questions (Sometimes)

If your interns learn how to think for themselves, they will turn out better work at a quicker pace. Although you should not receive questions with judgment or a poor temper, encourage interns to use their brains (oh, and Google) before they resort to sending you three emails regarding that question you’ve answered about 1,000 times. Always proof their work for mistakes, but I guarantee they will make less mistakes if they are taught to work for information rather than having it handed to them on a silver platter. Share with them a few examples of good work on the front end so they already have an idea of what you’re looking for. There is no need to reinvent the wheel with each assignment.

Listen to Their Ideas and Opinions

If interns feel like throwaway members of a team, they will not try. When interns aren’t trying, you are paying them to sit around. Plants make better decorative ornaments than people, I promise. Allow your interns to sit in on meetings (when acceptable) and take their ideas and opinions into consideration when deciding on next steps. Sometimes all it takes is one fresh pair of eyes to put a new and valuable spin on a certain element of a project. They will learn from their bad ideas, and you will learn from their good ones.

Require Them to Research! Research! Research!

Full-time employees and team leads do not always have time to devote to compiling information about a competitor or potential client. However, there is nothing like a well-organized overview of a topic to ignite work on a new project and allow employees to hit the ground running. Save yourself the time, and allow your interns to build their knowledge and their portfolios. Some of your best researchers may in fact be your interns. I lost count of the amount of research papers I wrote in college, and I would like to put those skills to use for the benefit of my coworkers. This tip also connects to #7 – the more they are required to research, the more self-sufficient they will become, meaning less emails in your inbox.

Give Them Positive AND Negative Feedback

Finally, let your interns know what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Some companies are inclined to shower their interns with indifference either due to lack of time (it’s broke, but I don’t have time to fix it) or obliviousness (Interns? We have interns?). It is beneficial to everyone involved to provide all types of feedback, and in a timely and organized manner. Do a first week check-in, a midterm review and a final review. Let your interns know what they did well, and what they could do better next time. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your interns what you can do to help them succeed – treat it like a collaborative performance review. When small things get done right, big things turn out even better.