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May 31, 2006

Rushkoff on Word of Mouth

Douglas Rushkoff is an author, thinker, and cultural clairvoyant. He is also a subscriber to the Evolutionist Word of Mouth theory as proof by the following snippets from his brilliantly insightful book, GET BACK IN THE BOX.

”Businesses today are counting on the power of ‘community’ to keep their products in perpetual circulation. A clever new marketing campaign or a snazzy new package, it is hoped, will stir word of mouth about the same old product. But the only lasting way to raise the value of a product as social currency is to raise the value of the product itself. While creative marketing is always a plus, it is no substitute for creative development.” (GET BACK IN THE BOX | pgs. 157-158)

"To put it simply, communities naturally build around product lines that overflow with intrinsic value. People may talk about a brilliant advertising campaign, but they will never advocate an ad the way they advocate a product they love. A company’s real relationship with a customer is not communicated through the marketing, however compelling it may be. It is communicated through the cup holders in the doors, the easy-to-read LED display in the cell phone cover, the user-friendly menu on the digital video recorder, or the leak-proof absorbency of the baby diaper.” (GET BACK IN THE BOX | pg. 158)


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Brand Autopsy highlighted two passages from Douglas Rushkoffs book Get Back in the Box. Consider the following thoughts: The only lasting way to raise the value of a product as social currency is to raise the value of the product itself. While c... [Read More]

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Rushkoff is right. I think many people today are misguided about the value of community. And marketers are really struggling to get customers' attention. Interestingly, customers continually don't get what they want, yet companies believe they’re providing a an excellent customer experience. (There's a great stat that recently came out of Bain & Co. They surveyed 362 firms and found that 80% believe they deliver a "superior experience" to customers. But when Bain asked the customers, they said only 8% are really delivering.)

It's so much deeper than a 'clever new marketing campaign.' But here's the good news - enlightened companies get the fact that creative development can actually arise from a customer community. Companies like Unilever, Dove and Hallmark have all used online customer communities (some private, some public) to drive innovation, insights and intense loyalty.

Out of these groups can come the next cup holder in the door, or easy to read LED display in the cell phone, or the next leak-proof absorbency diaper.

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