There will always be a place for advertising, a paid means of increasing awareness for a company, brand, message, product or event. And there will always be word of mouth promotion: people sharing opinions, stories, recommendations. The key difference between the two marketing methods is credibility and passion. One is a paid, non-emotional method of connecting with prospects, the other is people connecting with people about something they care about.
The best marketing involves users, fans, and customers helping spread the word, person to person. The best marketing interweaves passion and emotion along with the message. Whether it is a strong love, or a strong hate the message will spread, make more of an impression and inspire action (or non-action). Why? Word of mouth promotion is the opposite of paid advertising – it’s a real testimonial, honest & credible feedback, a message or experience that moved someone enough to want to tell a friend, or the world.
Advertising which raises awareness, but lacks believability and passion: billboards, newspaper/magazine ads, brochures/flyers, tv ads, on-line sponsored ads, etc. These methods can resonate and strike an emotional chord, but at their heart they are still a paid ad trying to grab attention, raise awareness, and perhaps coerce action.
Word of mouth (WOM) marketing that boosts and encourages connections: social media (from others), amazing customer service, articles/blogs/stories produced by outsiders, a unique or amazing product, promo stickers displayed by fans, etc. Although WOM marketing can “just happen,” it is best to offer something worthy of talking about and give happy fans/customers the tools to encourage conversations and pass-along awareness.