Digital Dialogues

Posted on July 8, 2015

Word-of-mouth is simply stated—when someone shares something interesting with another person.  Today word of mouth is intrinsically linked to social media and digital dialogues. 

There are certain communities that have embraced word-of-mouth platforms early in their evolution for various reasons. One such community was families of children with special needs. What social media is so incredibly adept at doing is linking a group together regardless of geography.

The reason this platform is so perfect for families of kids with special needs is that they have unique concerns and an online platform gives them a unique opportunity to find a broader knowledge-base for solutions to the challenges they face.

Those same parameters apply equally well to specialty store retailers. Yes, you are unique! As small business owners with a sense of community, you are in essence more than a retailer, you are a resource. And the most imperative thing you can do to support the community you are a part of is to SHARE. Sharing is where word-of-mouth along with the entire gamut of social media opportunities come into play.

One example of word-of-mouth marketing retailers can relate to is the success of the first Harry Potter book. The combination of an unknown author, a small budget and a saturated market of children’s books might have put J.K. Rowling at a disadvantage. But she had one thing going for her…specialty book stores’ enthusiasm that drove sales. Word-of-mouth spread fast from book store staff which was joined by consumers sharing their love for Harry Potter. The internet sizzled with readers wanting more.

According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine entitled, “The Marketing Magic Behind Harry Potter,” author Susan Gunelius offers offer some key elements that helped drive the success of this first book as a lesson:

  1. A Good Product
  2. Emotional Involvement
  3. Word-of-Mouth Marketing and Online Buzz

And if you need further proof of the power of word-of-mouth look no further than an organization that has taken on the cause of promoting, understanding and utilizing this marketing tactic. WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association focus is, “…harnessing the power of people to build brand awareness.” And WOMMA goes on to state, “Brands can pay anyone to love their brand publicly, but the real power lies with customers who ultimately choose whether to share engaging content to friends, family, and often times, complete strangers.”

Social media is the “rocket fuel” of word-of-mouth marketing and includes blogs, open forums and the mega-powers, Facebook and Twitter.

Here are some of the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing:

  • Predicts emerging trends and opinions
  • Builds a community of people who share an interest
  • Offers unfiltered feedback
  • Avoids the commercialization connected to traditional advertising and promotional efforts

Here are some ways for specialty toy retailers to harness word-of-mouth marketing through social media:

  • Care/share/dare to get your name out there by contributing to social media and open forums
  • Follow Facebook and Twitter pages to learn from the experts and follow the buzz
  • Show you care by contributing to complimentary sites like libraries and community organizations that serve your target market
  • Contribute regularly to your own social media efforts and have fun doing it
  • Establish a voice and a personality for your brand
  • Promote play and child development, not just toys, to avoid looking self-serving
  • Share ideas and insights and your knowledge freely and generously—like favorite toys from ASTRA Marketplace
  • Develop fun hashtags that capture your stores character

This year at the 2015 ASTRA Marketplace & Academy, take the dare, dive into digital dialogues and stretch your word-of-mouth muscles. There will be lots of social media efforts to “play” with including trivia, videos, discussion boards and more. Three things drive social media and also capture the spirit of the ASTRA Marketplace: sharing, sparking ideas and staying connected. Jump in and join us!

Source: ASTRA Toy Times Magazine, May, 2015

Source: Published on American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)  - See more at: http://ableplay.org/blog/sense-ational-astra-marketplace#sthash.foSopbzl.dpuf