What do Ant Traps Have to Do With Word-of-Mouth?

Summer is a time when days are long, sidewalks are as hot as frying pans and beaches are refreshing sanctuaries (especially in New England). It’s also a time for neighbors to have friendly chats over picket fences about local politics, faltering sports teams, family vacations and ant traps.

Yes, you read the last item correctly – ant traps. Just bear with me for a second.

During the winter months in New England, when we are huddled up in our snuggies keeping away the chill of Jack Frost, we tend to bottle up our conversations and thoughts for when our minds have defrosted.

As flowers bloom in spring and grass grows to resemble a plush green carpet during the summer, neighborhoods come alive with activity, sparked by conversations around the most random of things, including ant traps.

Picket fence conversations are the purest form of word-of-mouth marketing there is and to put this into context, let me share an example.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my neighbor was complaining about having an ant problem. I told her about a specific brand of ant traps that I’ve been using for a couple of years now, which have proven to be very effective. She said that she saw TV commercials for the product, but never thought to try them out. However, based on my recommendation, she was going to give them a shot.

A week later, I see my neighbor again and she starts raving about how the ant traps “actually worked.” She asked me, “How did you find out about them? We’ve tried everything and nothing worked. These are great!”

I said, “To be honest, Facebook.”

She said, “Figures. Everything is on that Facebook these days.”

The point here is that effective word-of-mouth (WOM) campaigns aren’t complicated. Brands don’t have to beat consumers over the head with content in order for it to “go viral.” For content to go viral, it needs to be delivered in a manner that:

  1. Flows into the online and offline content lifestream of consumers, i.e. where people get their news -- Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online news media, TV, radio, etc.;
  2. Simplifies the content in order for the message to not only be passed along to other consumers, but also delivered correctly (on message); and,
  3. Makes it so simple for consumers to share, that it’s considered an after thought and not a burden

In the case of the ant traps, I recalled the dry-humored, yet informative post I read on Facebook; knew exactly how to use the product because the content was simple to digest; and, as a result, passed the information along to my neighbor without even hesitating. As a result, I helped solve her ant problem and have become a trusted resource.

Brands should think about their marketing campaigns in the same way. Keep it simple, yet creative and informative. Most importantly, deliver content that addresses a common bond with a mass-scale audience; use a mix of new and traditional media channels; and, make it shareable. When you think you’re ready to launch, head outside, chat up your neighbor and see if it sticks.