Pokémon cards took off in the late 1990s, not because of TV commercials or print ads, but because of word of mouth.
Wizards of the Coast, the trading-card company that licensed the rights to Pokémon, visited comic book stores and specialty retailers across the country to give away samples, host demos and manage game tournaments. It got people talking.
“While they are more time-intensive and they are more expensive, we have found that those programs work about 100 percent better than traditional marketing,” said Charlotte Stuyvenberg, the company’s VP of marketing at the time, in Emmanuel Rosen’s book, The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing.
What Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing refers to the actions brands take to get consumers talking about their products or services with other consumers. Examples include product giveaways, brand ambassador programs and buzzworthy experiences created for customers and influencers.
In his book Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, marketer Andy Sernovitz defines word-of-mouth marketing like this: It’s when brands give people reasons to talk about their stuff, and make it easier for those conversations to take place.
Word-of-mouth marketing relies on people to spread the word about a product or service, enthusiastically sharing it with their families, friends, colleagues and social media connections.
Brands can’t force people to talk about stuff, of course. But they…