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93 posts categorized "Word of Mouth Marketing"

May 22, 2011

Bringing Sexy Back to Offline WOM

[image designed by the kiddos at Brains on Fire]

At the 2011 WOMMA School of WOM Conference, Geno Church and I gave a presentation titled, “Bringing SEXY Back to Offline Word of Mouth.” It was less a presentation and more a RANT about the importance of not losing focus on real world marketing ideas that can spark customer-driven conversations.

Unfortunately, it’s become decidedly unsexy to talk about anything word of mouth marketing-related that doesn’t involve Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or scores of other social media thingamajigs.

Geno and I went true school by sharing strategies and ideas for how businesses can spark conversations with customers all day every day in the offline REAL world. (For all those social media experts and practitioners who steadfastly contend social media solves every marketing problem, keep in perspective that 93% of retail sales in America happen offline.)

The following 425 words express some of the key points I made during my 15-minute RANT at the school of WOM. (These words first appeared in a recent CrackerJack Marketer newsletter. Missed it? Rectify it.)

Touchpoints as Talking Points

The best word of mouth isn’t a marketing tactic. It isn’t a tweet, a status update, a viral video, or anything else you can find or do on a social media website. The best word of mouth isn’t a publicity stunt or anything done to get some buzz for a day. The best word of mouth is how a business does business not just one day, but every day it is in business.

The word BUZZ needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary. Buzz is exclamation point marketing. It’s a one hit wonder. It’s one and done. Big bang one day, nothing the next day. Too many marketers are relying on the Big Bang Theory to get people talking.

And too many marketers are living for The DOT and not The LINE.

The DOT being a “One Day Big Bang” approach to getting people talking. The LINE being an “All Day Every Day” way to becoming a talkable brand.

The average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 business is 14,600 days and the average life span of a small business is 3,100 days. Clearly, a business is not in business for just one day; it is in business for a series of days — a line.

As marketers, it’s our responsibility to give consumers reasons to talk about brands, products, and services not just for one day... but rather, for a series of days.

To create a talkable brand, we must earn opinions from customers at every touchpoint. Anything a customer can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is a touchpoint. Customer touchpoints are EVERYWHERE which means word of mouth opportunities are everywhere.

For example, any restaurant that uses a “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign from a restaurant supply catalog has given up on being talkable. This sign is one of the first customer touchpoints someone will experience inside a restaurant. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase a company’s unique personality by creating a custom sign that expresses the uniqueness of the restaurant.

Starbucks has long practiced the idea of giving people reasons to talk by earning opinions from customers at every touchpoint. One of the simplest ways Starbucks earns opinions from customers is by deliberating calling their drink sizes Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti. The easiest (and least talkable) decision would be to use Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large as their drink sizes. But there’s nothing interesting in the mundane.

The most talkable brands take common customer touchpoints and make them uncommon... uncommonly talkable. What touchpoints can your business make interesting to get customers interested?

February 07, 2011

The WOM Opportunity Grid

As part of my project work with The Keller Fay Group, I have access to interesting word of mouth (WOM) data on the brands and product categories Americans talk about.

To coincide with the Super Bowl advertising game, Keller Fay plotted out a 2x2 "WOM Opportunity Grid" showing the talkability of product categories. This grid is divided into four quadrants pinpointing which product/service categories are the most mentioned in brand-related conversations happening in America. This grid also layers on where marketers can find the highest concentration of Conversation Catalysts(TM), those Americans who disproportionately drive word of mouth conversations about brands.


The WOM Opportunity sweet spot is clearly in the upper right-hand quadrant where brands in conversational product/service categories get mentioned the most by all Americans and where the highest concentration of Conversation Catalysts(TM) exist. Brands in talkative categories where high levels of influential customers are engaged in conversations, stand the best chance to capitalize on the word of mouth opportunity.

Conversely, the WOM Opportunity sour spot is in the lower left-hand quadrant where fewer brands get mentioned in less conversational product/service categories and where fewer influential consumers exist.

To tie this back to Super Bowl advertising, I had Keller Fay pinpoint where the major product/service categories fall on their WOM Opportunity Grid. >> LEARN MORE

February 03, 2011

Super Simple Social Media Policy

I am not a social media marketing expert. I’m a retail marketer who believes in using really good marketing to connect with customers. That explained, I heard some great advice on creating a super simple Social Media Policy while attending the Blogwell Austin event on Feb. 2.

Andy Sernovitz, CEO at the Social Media Business Council, reminded us of the juvenile sexual innuendo joke where you add “... in bed” at the end of a fortune cookie saying. For example...


That’s funny. It’s also a useful idea, says Andy, to borrow when writing up a company Social Media Policy.

Most businesses, especially big businesses, have corporate conduct guidelines explaining how to behave when on the job. Most, if not all, of these guidelines can be used as the basis for a super simple Social Media Policy. All one has to do is add “... online” at the end of each conduct guideline statement. For example...






Of course, adding “... online” to a company’s existing corporate conduct guideline policy does not cover everything a business needs to concern itself with when designing its Social Media Policy. However, it probably covers most things.

For a much deeper dive into designing a Social Media Policy check out WOMMA’s resources and the resources from

February 01, 2011

Most Talkable vs. Most Valuable Sports Teams

In my post sharing Keller Fay Group data on the Most Talked about Sports Teams in America, Chris Navitimer asked a great question in the comments, “Does most talked about [sports team] automatically lead to [making the] most money?


Forbes Magazine routinely runs a report of the Most Valuable Sports Franchises based upon revenues, operating income, and stadium deals. While that report doesn’t measure profitability, it does give us a look into how financially valuable sports franchises are.

I took a few minutes to compare the Most Talkable Sports Teams in America with the Most Valuable Sports Teams in America.


The New York Jets were the most talked about team in 2010 and they are one of the most valuable teams as well. The Dallas Cowboys talkable value is nearly the same as their financial value. While the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Lakers both are highly talkable, that doesn’t translate well into their financial value.

Conversely, the New York Yankees and New York Giants are highly valuable financially but their talkable value from 2010 doesn’t match their financial worth.

Of course, this comparison between Talkable & Valuable sports teams is more interesting than conclusive because the financial valuations of sports teams are so reliant on the ability of a stadium to generate significant positive cash and on earning money from television properties. Nevertheless, it's an interesting peek into lesser known dimensions of our favorite American sports teams.

January 27, 2011

The Most Talked about Pro Sports Teams in America

As part of my project work with The Keller Fay Group, I'm digging into their archive of research findings and providing insights which marketers can use to better tap into the power of word of mouth. There's a trove of insightful data prime for your picking (and using) on the Keller Fay WOM MATTERS blog. Go ahead, have a look.

Occasionally the word of mouth findings we share are more informational than actionable. For example, Keller Fay ran some of their TalkTrack® data of American’s brand-related word of mouth conversations to determine "The Most Talked about Pro Sports Teams" in 2010. The list is full of surprises.

The first surprise, for some, could be the New York Jets ranked as the most talked about pro sports team by Americans. Given the franchise’s storied history, its loyal fans, the exposure from the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” and the talk worthy cast of characters on the team, it can’t be too surprising the New York Jets were mentioned the most by Americans in 2010.

How about the other teams in the Keller Fay-compiled list of The Most Talked About Pro Teams in America? Where do the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers rank? Given the Lebron James departure to the Miami Heat, do the Heat make the list or do the jilted Cleveland Cavaliers make it instead? Which major league baseball teams make the list? Riffle through this SlideShare presentation to find out…

November 02, 2010

Advertising and Word of Mouth

As part of my project work with The Keller Fay Group, I'm digging into their archive of research findings and providing insights, which marketers can use to better tap into the power of word of mouth.

Keller Fay recently released new data showing the virtues of advertising on Television, in Magazines, and Online to spark word of mouth conversations. The data shows how TV, Print, and the Internet all work differently when it comes to sparking word of mouth conversations about brands, products, and services.

The following presentations explaining the virtues of advertising to trigger word of mouth first appeared on the Keller Fay WOM MATTERS blog. If you're interested in learning more about how advertising can spark word of mouth, read and watch below.

While overall television viewership is down, that doesn't, by any means, diminish the impact television advertising has on sparking word of mouth conversations.

Advertising in print magazines will help a brand reach consumers who are more inclined to be talkative influencers, those folks who actively and passionately keep up with what's new and interesting in the world and share it within their large social circle of friends.

Online media triggers about 15% of all brand-related word of mouth conversations. That's a higher percentage than print media, radio, and billboard. Only television is a bigger trigger of word of mouth, but not by much.

October 02, 2010

Advertising versus Advocating


People may talk about a brilliant advertising campaign, but they will never advocate an ad the way they advocate a product they love." --Douglas Rushkoff

September 14, 2010

The Most Talked about Brands of 2010

Originally posted on the Keller Fay blog (Sept. 7).

We’re back to work after a fun-filled Labor Day weekend. Let’s continue the fun by taking a light-hearted look at the Most Talked-About Brands in 2010 as measured by Keller Fay’s TalkTrack(R) study.

The list of the 15 most talked-about brands in America was compiled from 36,000 consumer conversations conducted between June 2009 and June 2010.

Watch this short SlideShare presentation and learn which brands made the list and which ones didn’t. Some of the brands on the list might surprise you.

September 07, 2010

Lesson Eleven | Movements Move People to Believe

Last week I wrote about the BRAINS ON FIRE book. As I mentioned, throughout the book we learn of ten lessons Brains on Fire follows to ignite and fan the flames of customer evangelism.

What I failed to mention was Lesson Eleven exists. This lesson isn't in this marketing book. It is, however, in our book of marketing lessons learned. Lesson Eleven was intentionally left blank so that we could add our experiences to the mix.

And I've done just that by sharing my Lesson Eleven on how to ignite powerful, sustainable, word of mouth movements.


"Any brand can ignite a movement with its customers, so long as the brand can move people to believe in the company, to believe in a better way, and to believe in themselves." -- John Moore

August 24, 2010

Your "Hall Pass" to Haul Videos

I recently became hip ... hip to haul videos. Perhaps, you’ve already been hipped to haul videos. If not, consider this your haul pass to becoming hip to haul videos.

NPR did a story on it. So did Marketplace. Newspapers have written about it. And I’m fascinated by it.

What is it and why am I so fascinated by it?


Haul videos are simply online video recordings where people, generally teenage girls, talk about their recent purchases. For example, Juicystar07 has posted about 200 haul videos and has nearly 24-million views for her videos sharing commentary on products she’s purchased from retailers including Forever 21 and Ulta.

With viewership numbers like that coupled with priceless third-party endorsements, you can clearly understand why retailers are excited by this marketing trend.

JCPenney, in a recent back-to-school promotion, jumped on the haul video brandwagon by providing gift card to six girls to do a video show and tell of their shopping haul from JCPenney. So as not to run afoul of FTC guidelines on endorsements and to help keep online word of mouth credible, the six girls disclose upfront they were given free gift cards from JCPenney. (Watch Annie’s JCPenney haul video, she discloses immediately the freebies she was given.)

This is all fascinating.

However, I can’t let teenage girls have all the fun with this. I want in on the haul video action. Really I do...

August 18, 2010

Listening Spurs Talking

According to Advertising Research Foundation president Bob Barocci, The single biggest opportunity in the history of consumer marketing lays dormant.” The opportunity Bob speaks of is LISTENING. And for those you deep into social media you understand the benefits of listening and how listening spurs talking from customers.

In an updated version of his book, 501 Killer Marketing Tactics to Increase Sales..., Tom Feltenstein plays off the listening angle and frames word of mouth in a way I haven’t heard before...

“The best way to word of mouth commitment from your customers is by opening your mouth. Talk to your customers, and listen to what they have to say. When they give you advice, try not to dismiss it out of hand. Instead, hear it, digest it, and take away everything that makes sense.”

Before customers spread word of mouth about a business, a business must first open its mouth (and ears) and talk (plus listen) to its customers. Love it.

May 17, 2010

What is a Talkable Brand?

This is an interesting presentation from WOMMA. (Yes, I do work with them.)

It's a collection of word of mouth marketers and their different views on what makes a brand talkable. Smart stuff. Enjoy...

April 19, 2010

The Physics of Word of Mouth Marketing

PROMO Magazine recently published an article I wrote about the natural laws that govern word of mouth marketing. To understand these natural laws, we need to revisit basic physics.

In school we learned about Isaac Newton’s three natural laws of motion. These laws explain how and why objects move. These laws can also explain how and why word of mouth marketing can move brands from being unknown to well known.

Law of Inertia
Newton’s first law of motion tells us an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. This law of inertia applies directly to word of mouth marketing because conversation at rest tends to stay at rest while conversation in action tends to stay in action. If a company does nothing to encourage people to talk, no one will talk.

Law of Acceleration
With Newton’s first law, we learned a force is required to spark momentum. Newton’s second law, the law of acceleration, explains how much force is required to spark movement. The larger an object is, the more force needed to move the object. Conversely, the smaller the object, the less force needed to move the object.

The correlation to word of mouth marketing is simple. The larger a brand is, the more marketing muscle needed to generate conversations about the brand. On the other hand, the smaller the brand, the less marketing muscle needed to spark conversations about the brand.

The Law of Reaction
Newton’s third law of motion tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is a parallel natural law that governs word of mouth marketing as it relates to delivering great customer service. This marketing law states: for every action by a customer, there should be a genuine and appropriate reaction from a business. These appropriate reactions take the form of a response, a rescue attempt, or a relaying of information from a company to an individual customer.


For a deeper dive into how physics principles correlate to marketing, read David Bowman's informative series of posts.

April 07, 2010

re: Digital Discounts (Foursquare & Gowalla)

With Foursquare, Gowalla, and other “geo-location apps” becoming the new must-do marketing tool, I hope more businesses follow the lead of an Austin-area Starbucks.

A simple handwritten sign acknowledging the loyalty of a frequent customer is all the marketing needed to earn a gleeful shout-out and a simple photo on Twitter.



It’s so easy for businesses to turn checking-in with Foursquare and Gowalla into a digital discount program, but is it meaningful?

Isn’t it more meaningful, as a customer, to be recognized in a special way from your favorite business than it is to receive a special discount?

As a customer loyal enough to become “mayor” of a business, does that customer need a “Buy 9 Get 1 Free” discount to remain loyal? I hope not. If so, then that “loyal” customer isn’t so loyal.

A simple acknowledgment, as shown above, can go a long way to fortifying a profitable relationship between a frequent customer and a business.

April 05, 2010

GreenBox is Marketing Done Right

In Purple Cow, Seth Godin wrote about the virtue of baking remarkability into how a business does business. According to Seth, “marketing done right” is when “the marketer changes the product, not the ads.”

The Purple Cow concept states it’s ultimately more meaningful (and less expensive) to bring a remarkably innovative product to market than it is to spend the advertising money necessary to successfully market a boring product.

GreenBox understands the Purple Cow concept. They developed an innovative pizza box that sells itself. This pizza box is not just reusable and recyclable ... it’s also remarkable. The GreenBox breaks down into four serving plates and into a nifty container for leftovers.

Have a look at marketing done right...


MERLOT MONDAY | April 19 | Austin

NOTE: My company is a WOMMA Member and I work with WOMMA.


The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is coming to Austin. On Monday, April 19, WOMMA and the Council of Public Relations Firms (CPRF) will host a MERLOT MONDAY event for marketers involved with new school social media and old school word of mouth marketing.

At the MERLOT MONDAY event, you’ll sip some wine, chat with Austin-area marketers, and learn marketing insights from Jake McKee (Ant’s Eye View), Aaron DeLucia (Porter Novelli), and Liz Arreaga (Mercury Mambo).

In-between the wine sipping and networking, we’ll break into a casual panel discussion about how best to use “social media” and “marketing media” to create a more talkable brand.

Jake will focus more on the importance of enabling/fostering community voices to make a brand more talkable. Aaron will emphasize the need to think about the entire communication cycle from pre-to-wave-to-post in order to increase the longevity of a marketing program designed to get/keep customers talking. And, Liz will discuss how shopper marketing not only makes a brand talkable but also links to driving sales.

You’ll walk away from this event more confident in your knowledge of how to integrate social media and word of mouth programming into a company’s overall marketing mix. You’ll also learn what it takes to unify various media channels to work together to create a talkable brand.

Come join us. The event starts at 5:30 and the super cool HQ of Mercury Mambo on 1107 S. 8th Street (across the street from the HighBall and right behind Gibson Bar -- MAP).


March 01, 2010

Idil Cakim on Influencer Marketing

NOTES: I am a member of WOMMA and serve as WOMMA’s “WOM Enthusiast.” Portions of this post were originally posted on the All Things WOM blog.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) recently published a MEASUREMENT & METRICS GUIDEBOOK sharing practical insights into quantifying offline and online word of mouth. WOMMA Members have access to a free download of the paper. A bound version of the Guidebook is available for everyone.

Idil Cakim, VP of Interactive Media at GolinHarris, authored an article, “The Influence Factor,” detailing how brands can engage, monitor, and measure influencer marketing programs.

Idil recently appeared on a WOMMA Brands Council Jam Session webinar and shared her views on what constitutes offline and online influence, how to find influencers, and some do’s and don’ts of Influencer Marketing. The following SlideShare presentation includes snippets from this recent webinar.


This short Q&A with Idil Cakim will give you more perspective on designing and delivering Influencer Marketing programs.

1. What constitutes influence offline and online?
Idil Cakim (IC): “The fundamentals of offline and online influence are the same: perceived knowledge of the influencer, credibility and hence trust. In the offline world, we have more access to visual, cultural and social clues that help us assess the influence factor. Meanwhile online, we have more third-party resources and published statements that can help us assess a given source's influence and authority. Whether online or offline, influencers are experts who know how to spread their messages either through peer-to-peer conversations, organized activities or publications.”

2. Any pitfalls to Influencer Marketing?
(IC): “The most common pitfall is sharing an idea or a product with too few influencers and expecting to move the needle. An influencer is bound to take the message further than the average person. However brands may need to engage hundreds of influencers at a time to have quantitative results that show the impact of their efforts.

Another point for consideration is that not all influencers are equal. Brands and organizations first need to determine what constitutes influence in their respective fields and research thoroughly when identifying their own set of influencers.

Lastly, thinking in terms of campaigns with limited times for outreach undercuts the value brands/organizations can derive from influencer relations. Spot outreach is fine, but there needs to be ongoing communication between the brand and its influencers, just like any healthy relationship.”

3. What are three steps a brand should take to design a better influencer marketing program?
(IC): First, determine your own influencer criteria and make sure you can recruit enough influencers who can create noticeable change.

Second, as you design your program, think of your communication goals and clarify what will determine success. Is it only increase in awareness or change in some type of behavior? Make sure that your program is designed to reach these goals.

Third, plan for ongoing engagement. Sustain authentic communications and continuously offer value to your influencers through news, information, first-to-try types of offers.” [SOURCE]

November 22, 2009

WOMMA Conference: Recap Presentation

*** Note, my WOM Enthusiast hat is on with this post. ***

When you return from a conference chock-full of insights, it’s difficult to share everything you learned. Sure, you can transcribe your notes but your notes are bound to have some holes. You can also pull insights from summaries other attendees have posted on their blogs.

Or ... you whittle through the thousands of tweets from attendees to carve out a more complete list of insights. That’s the path I’ve chosen to take after returning from WOMMA’s Creating Talkable Brands conference.

Over 470 attendees shared 3,600+ tweets (.pdf download) with the #WOMMA hashtag during the three-day conference. I’ve whittled down the 3,600+ tweets to a more digestible collection of 165 tweets and compiled them into this SlideShare presentation. Enjoy.

November 08, 2009

Business Lessons from a Soda Jerk

John Nese is a modern day soda jerk. He’s passionate about “flavored water with a lot bubbles.” Soda makes him smile, makes him happy. He’s the proprietor of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles. His store sells about 500 different sodas from small, independent-run soda makers. His business is a prototypical purple cow, worthy of word-of-mouth.

Watching the video below will not only make us smile and happy, it will make us smarter about business strategy and jealous we don’t have the same passion for what we do that John Nese does.

We’ll become smarter because we’ll see first-hand how passion propels performance, how being more selective makes a business more effective, and how sharing inspired expert knowledge will never go out of style.

We’ll become jealous because we’ll see someone who has made the necessary sacrifices in life to pursue their calling.

Enjoy. (Thanks Seth and Neal for bringing this video to my attention.)

RSS Readers ... click here to watch the video.

September 16, 2009

SUMMARY | WOMMA’s Disclosure Webinar

*** Clearly my WOM Enthusiast hat is on with this post.

This fall, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will release updated guidelines on endorsements used in advertising and marketing. Current guidelines were last updated long before the Internet became an irreplaceable communication/networking channel and before marketers understood the irrefutable power of word-of-mouth marketing.

The FTC works to protect consumers from being influenced by unethical, untruthful, and unscrupulous business practices. Updated guidelines will address the need for endorsers, reviewers, and businesses to be 100% transparent and disclose when material compensation (in-kind gifts, special access privileges) and outright compensation (cash) changes hands.

On September 14, 2009, WOMMA hosted a webinar on ETHICS & ENDORSEMENTS: What is Adequate Disclosure. The diverse panel included marketers, entrepreneurs, a professor, a marketing analyst, and a lawyer.

The resounding sentiment was marketers and bloggers need to design word-of-mouth marketing programs to state early (and often) when material compensation changes hands.

It is a non-negotiable … businesses must solve for being obvious and upfront when a brand offers in-kind gifts, special access privileges, and cash as part of a marketing program designed to spark word-of-mouth.

Solutions discussed by the panelists centered around being clear and conspicuous when disclosing material relationships between a brand and a consumer. Practical implications talked about on the webinar included: “disclosure badges” on websites, prominently placed “terms of engagement” practices, specially designated “product review” blogs, and uniquely tagging of tweets (such as [#ad]).

You can watch, listen, and learn more by watching this highly edited version of the webinar. This 11-minute version shares key takeaways spoken by the panelists.


September 13, 2009

Social Media, Pigs, and Lipstick

Tom Fishburne writes...

"Many businesses treat social media tools the same as dropping an FSI or placing a grocery cart ad. It becomes just more superficial window dressing. I think it would be far better to apply that investment toward actually making the brand and products more interesting and remarkable."

Now see Tom Fishburne's spot-on illustration.

Good stuff Tom, good stuff.

August 25, 2009

A Talkable Brand is…

Clearly my WOM Enthusiast hat is on with this post.

Picture 12

WOMMA recently announced its 2009 Summit in Las Vegas on Nov. 19 & 20. The conference theme is CREATING TALKABLE BRANDS using the original social media (word of mouth) and digital social media (online stuff).

The conference agenda is still being put together. If you have a case study that showcases how a brand uses WOM and Social Media to become talkable … submit a proposal to get on the agenda. Act now, the deadline is Aug. 31.

WOMMA wants to know what we think a talkable brand is.

WOMMA has their take (video). I have my take. No doubt you have a take. Share it, like this video shares my take…

RSS Readers ... click here to view the video

August 03, 2009

Batter Blaster

When I finally got around to using Batter Blaster, one word came to mind … PURPLE … as in PURPLE COW. This video ditty explains …

RSS Readers … click here to view the video ditty

July 30, 2009

PQ Media WOM Forecast Report

Clearly my WOM Enthusiast hat is on with this post.

Did you see this?

PQ Media has released its second Word of Mouth Marketing Forecast Report. The report offers a deep dive into the size, scope, and growth of the Word of Mouth Marketing industry.

It’s a hefty read at 115 pages. But the information is worth digging into for marketers at both brands and agencies. WOM spend is on the rise, even in today’s recessionary times. In this report you’ll find out where money being spent, why it is being spent, and how companies are benefitting from their strategic WOM spend.

WOMMA members get this report free. (Membership perk.) Others must pay.

However, I’ve compiled a few highlights from the report into this short video. Hopefully this video will whet your marketing appetite to learn more from reading the full report.

RSS Readers ... click here to view the video

NOTE: cross-posted on the All Things WOM Blog

July 16, 2009


On the ALL THINGS WOM blog, I’m sharing bite-size lessons on key ideals that make word-of-mouth marketing more effective and ethical. The series is called WOM TRUTHS. Three lessons are posted with many more to come…


#55 | Word of Mouth is the Original Social Media

#37 | Reviews aren’t Sexy. But the Results are Sexy.

#09 | Buzz Doesn’t Create Evangelists. Evangelists Create Buzz.

July 09, 2009

Bake it or Make it. (Just Don't Fake it.)

Jay Ehret (@TheMarketingGuy) and I recently talked Word-of-Mouth Marketing on his Power to the Small Business podcast. I had on my WOM Enthusiast hat and talked about how there are two ways to generate word of mouth … You can bake it. Or you can make it. (You just don’t want to fake it.)

A little explanation is needed.

Word of Mouth is baked inside how a company does business every day. Baking it follows the thinking that a company’s personality is its best form of advertising.

Baking It examples include: [1] remarkable product (iPod); [2] over-the-top customer service (Zappos); [3] awesome customer experiences (Kimpton hotels).

Word of Mouth is a program that is layered on and is part of the marketing mix. Making it is about doing interesting things to get customer’s attention.

Making It examples include: [1] memorable advertising (Subway “$5 Foot Long” jingle) ; [2] interesting activities (Southwest Airlines “Porch” pop-up lounge concept) ; enabling interesting conversations (HP’s 31 Days of the Dragon).

Full explanation can be learned by listening to the podcast.

July 07, 2009

Don't Tell. Do Ask.

More chatter is happening regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s forthcoming guidelines on endorsements and testimonials in online marketing. It’s not an easy topic for us marketers to understand. However, it is something we will need to understand if physical word-of-mouth and digital word-of-mouth are to remain the most credible form of advertising.

No matter what the FTC dictates, I believe if we marketers follow a DON’T TELL. DO ASK. policy … all will be fine.

“Don’t Tell? Do Ask?,” you ask.

Click below for a 3:20 minute video ditty explaining why “Don’t Tell. Do Ask.” is a basic policy all marketers should follow when designing and delivering their next word of mouth marketing program.

RSS Readers … click here to watch the video.

(1) Cross-posted on the ALL THINGS WOM blog
(2) I work with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association

June 22, 2009

WOM at Work

In 2005, Seth Godin wrote the FREE PRIZE INSIDE. It's essentially a guidebook for creating remarkable products and services. As marketers we know when remarkable things get remarked about ... word of mouth happens.

This 2-minute video ditty I posted on the All Things WOM blog shares two word-of-mouth worthy free prizes I experienced while staying at the Hotel Burnham in Chicago. (Yes, I mispronounce the hotel’s name in the video. My bad.) Enjoy.

RSS Readers … click here to watch the video.

June 07, 2009

An Ethical Question … Please Comment

UPDATED (June 10): Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments. To avoid any question ... going forward, I will disclose how I receive business books reviewed on the blog.

Lots of great conversation is happening about the ethics of compensating bloggers with cash, in-kind gifts, and special access privileges in exchange for writing a post about the product/service a business provides them.

This conversation has me thinking about how I’ve been compensated for some posts on this blog.

Because I frequently write business book reviews, publishers and publicity firms send me free business books. I’m under no obligation to write anything (be it positive, negative, or nothing at all) in exchange. While not cash, this in-kind gift has a monetary value of about $25 per book.

I’ve probably written over 100 business book reviews on this blog. Some reviews have slammed the book as worthless and others have praised the book as worthwhile. In every case, my authentic opinion has been expressed.

However, I’ve never disclosed when a review is from a business book I received as a gift or from a book I purchased. (By the way, the vast majority of my book reviews are from books I've purchased.)

I’m curious … Do you expect me to disclose whether or not I was gifted the book or paid for the book? Would you trust my review more with this type of disclosure?

Thanks for sharing your feedback.

June 03, 2009

WOMMA Opens a Can of Worms


Long-time readers know I'm a big supporter of Word of Mouth Marketing. More recently, I've put my passion for WOM to good use helping the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) strengthen its marketing muscles.

Right now WOMMA is wrestling with questions of ethics. They've long stood against SHILLING. That is, a brand/agency paying cash to people to talk about, blog about, tweet about a product without disclosing they are being paid to do such.

However, the practice of Sponsored Conversations is gaining more acceptance from brands and agencies. (A "sponsored conversation" happens when a person is compensated with cash, in-kind gifts, and special access privileges in exchange for talking, blogging, tweeting about the product/service a business provided them.)

Some, like Joseph Jaffe, say if a person is transparent and discloses they are being compensated then a "Sponsored Conversation" is ethical and acceptable marketing behavior.

Others, like Andy Sernovitz, abhor the practice of compensating bloggers to post reviews, especially if the reviews are inauthentic.

In 2005, WOMMA established an ETHICS CODE for Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Since then, it has become a standard guide for companies of all sizes to use to help them design and deliver more ethical (and effective) WOM programs.

In the last formal review, WOMMA included this language in its ethics code: “We stand against marketing practices whereby the consumer is paid cash by the manufacturer, supplier or one of their representatives to make recommendations, reviews or endorsements.”

Recently, three WOMMA members have requested this language in the ethics code be revisited ... no doubt to support the practice of sponsored conversations.

Should WOMMA alter its ethics code to support marketing activity where a consumer is paid cash to make recommendations, reviews or endorsements?

WOMMA wants to hear your opinion because your opinion will help WOMMA make a stronger ethics code that is reflective of how honest marketers should behave. Consider adding your voice to this issue on the WOMMA Living Ethics blog.

May 20, 2009

Video Recap: MySpace or Facebook? Or Both?

On May 13 & 14, WOMMA held its Word-of-Mouth Marketing University conference. Below is a video recap of a presentation from the conference.


The world’s two largest social networks, MySpace and Facebook, attract over 130-million users monthly. Thus the question has changed from IF you should use MySpace or Facebook to reach your customers to HOW. How can attention, affinity, and action happen best on each site? How do marketing messages spread differently between the two? How best to monitor and measure a brand’s performance on each site?

Those questions and more were answered by Heidi Browning from MySpace and Chris Pan from Facebook during the kick-off keynote to Day 2 of WOMM-U.

For smart recaps, I recommend reading posts from Josh Hallet, John Bell, and Ian Sohn. The moderator of the panel, David Berkowitz, also posted a good summary of the session.

I plopped my rinky-dink camera atop the banquet table in the dimly lit ballroom and captured much of the session on video. Because this session was so informative, written summaries fail to cover all the content. So, you should watch it for yourself and jot down your key takeaways.

In this segment you’ll learn about audience/demo profiles for MySpace and Facebook (0:00 to 2:45). Plus, you’ll hear Heidi and Chris share best practices from brands including Vitamin Water to Papa Johns Pizza to Starbucks to Cheetos to Aflac (2:46 to 9:35).

Both Heidi and Chris talk about the importance of creating engagement and community with users when designing marketing activities on MySpace and Facebook. Lots of great information in this segment.

Measurement matters to marketers. In this segment, you’ll learn how MySpace uses the momentum effect to evaluate success of a marketing activity. Facebook uses measurements of engagement to determine success/failure. Deep stuff. Watch, listen, and learn.

NOTE: crossposted on the ALL THINGS WOM blog

May 19, 2009

Recap: YouTube presentation

NOTE: crossposted on the ALL THINGS WOM blog

On May 13 & 14, WOMMA held its Word-of-Mouth Marketing University conference. Below is a recap of a presentation from the conference.

Maximizing Online Video for Marketing Success

Presenter said:

Jeben Berg, creative director of Cross Platforms Solutions at YouTube & Google, threw out some startling stats about YouTube during his presentation ... it’s 81-million unique monthly visitors makes YouTube one of the most trafficked websites in the world ... each minute, another new 15-minutes of video is uploaded to YouTube.

Obviously, YouTube is a media and marketing channel to be reckoned with and smart companies are finding ways to integrate YouTube into their marketing mix. Jeben explained there is “no single formula" for online video success. There are, however, lots of best practice tips on how to improve the effectiveness of online videos.

First, focus on great ideas rather than production values. Companies like BlendTec and its “Will it Blend” series begin with a singular idea — such as, will an iPhone blend? — to create simple yet interesting videos. According to Jeben, following the BlendTec approach of “high concept with low fidelity” is a recipe for creating compelling online video.

Second, think quantity more than quality. Jeben explained brands that post lots of videos gain the most viewers and receive the most must-see recommendations from friends.

Third, make the most out of your Title, Description, and Tags. Don’t get too cute with your video title names. Use key words and commonly searched terms in the Description of your videos. And, spend extra time making sure you Tag your videos with the most appropriate terms. Something simple as a good title, robust description, and relevant tags will help online videos get better visibility through search engines.

Jeben jokingly talked about how many CEOs of big brands have called YouTube requesting certain videos be taken down. As long as a copyright isn’t infringed upon, YouTube leaves such videos alone.

Audience tweeted:
@VirginiaMiracle was impressed with the short case study on how the rock band, Weezer, analyzed the stats behind their videos, “weezer used their YouTube stats to determine that no one in the state of Oklahoma cares about weezer.” By knowing how few viewers there were from Oklahoma, Weezer decided not to make a tour stop in the state.

In response to Jeben talking about the recent Domino’s video incident, @spikejones tweeted, “CEO of Domino’s called called YouTube and tried to play the ‘pull down the video b/c I pump so much $$ into Google card.’ It didn’t work.

Jeben continued the Domino’s story about the company’s video response. @TravelPRPro responded, “Money Talks. Advertising does have influence. Domino’s response to employee hoax got prime placement on YouTube bc they advertise.

WOMMA says:
Viral videos can give a company lots of attention. However, predicting what goes viral is nearly impossible. If you approach making a video with the intent of it going viral, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, use Jeben’s advice of focusing on a quality idea more than on quality video production. It’s interesting ideas that get people interested and when interest is achieved, online word-of-mouth is primed to spread.

May 18, 2009

Recap: Yelp presentation

NOTE: crossposted on the ALL THINGS WOM blog
On May 13 & 14, WOMMA held its Word-of-Mouth Marketing University conference. Below is a recap of a presentation from the conference.

Yelp: Empowering Consumers with Local Knowledge

Presenter said:

In kicking-off the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s WOMM-U Conference, Geoff Donaker, chief operating officer at Yelp, said, "The Genie is out of the bottle. You’re better off joining the conversation, than not." Conversations about local restaurants and businesses fuel Yelp’s business. Donaker described Yelp as, "local search powered by community."

It is the online community that provides Yelp with over 6-million reviews of local restaurants and businesses. 21-million people last month used Yelp to decide which restaurant to visit, car mechanic to use, and spa to be pampered at. With its broad reach and deep reviews, Yelp is changing the game of small business marketing.

Donaker told the story of a local carpet cleaner who used to spend $100K on yellow page advertising. Thanks to all the new business generated by positive reviews on Yelp, this carpet cleaner no longer spends money on yellow page advertising. Instead, this business is spending much of its advertising budget on improving it’s customer service, resulting in more positive reviews on Yelp.

Donaker also discussed how businesses have a love/hate relationship with customer-driven reviews. Businesses love how great customer service is rewarded with positive reviews. However, they hate the loss of message control. That said, the positive to negative review ratio at Yelp stands at 6:1.

Audience tweeted:

@ErikNYC mentioned the beauty of Yelp’s customer-driven model is that "when the customer wins, the business wins." Echoing sentiments from the presentation, @gamedayjreau tweeted, "It’s always about customer service at the end of the day."

In response to a case study example of how negative reviews can become positive for businesses, @leslieforde commented, "It’s worth engaging vocal customers gently. Reaching out to angry customers can change negative perception."

WOMMA says:

The love/hate relationship with customer-driven conversations is real. Word-of-mouth offline and online can not be controlled, only sparked. A business cannot ethically control what customers say about them. One of the best ways to spark word-of-mouth conversations is through delivering outstanding customer service and providing remarkable products.

For any business wanting to spark word-of-mouth conversations, it must first spend time and money to gain utmost confidence in their services and products. This confidence will give a business thick enough skin to withstand negative reviews as well as a solid foundation from which a virtuous cycle of positive reviews will fuel business growth.


May 05, 2009

The 10-10-10 Consequences Model

NOTE: crossposted on the ALL THINGS WOM blog

Suzy Welch, business writer, has an intriguing way to quickly analyze the consequences of decisions. When faced with making difficult choices, Suzy will 10-10-10 it. Meaning, she will take a few moments to consider the consequences of a decision that may occur in the next 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years.

Suzy’s 10-10-10 model is a simple (and smart) way to analyze immediate, short-term, and long-term consequences of a decision. Plus, it’s so applicable to making important marketing decisions, especially in today’s online social world.

Except, we need to amp up Suzy’s 10-10-10 thinking to account for how quickly information spreads online. 10 minutes. 10 hours. 10 days. That’s a more workable 10-10-10 consequences model for marketers dealing with issues worthy of explosive online conversation, such as the marketing disaster recently faced by Dominos Pizza.

Because it took Dominos more than 24-hours to respond, the company was singled-out as being uncommunicative and unresponsive to the groundswell of online commentary on twitter and various blogs. Similar slow-reacting critiques have been hurled at Motrin (#motrinmoms) and Amazon (#amazonfail).

Dominos, Motrin, and Amazon all suffered immediate consequences of not making a decision on how to respond within 10 hours of the incidents they faced. The online chatter spiked and to an extent, took on a life of its own. However, these three brands did ultimately respond and the twitter storm receded within 10 days. For Motrin and Amazon, sales haven’t suffered from these missteps. Time will tell if the gross-out video will hurt Dominos sales this quarter.

We are still learning that responding quickly to marketing matters discussed online is vital. Using the10-10-10 rule should be helpful for companies in similar situations faced by Dominos, Motrin, and Amazon.

For example, within the first 10-minutes, a company should acknowledge what is happening. No answers. No explanations. Just an immediate acknowledgement using whatever social media tool a company feels most comfortable using will work. However, within 10-hours, a company should go beyond acknowledging to responding by explaining what happened and what specific actions the company is taking to address the issue in order to reassure people they can trust the company again. If done right and timely, negative consequences will be minimized 10-days after the initial flare up.

Is responding within 10-minutes realistic? Probably not. However, a response within 10-hours is realistic and expected in today’s always-on information cycle.

We keep learning the faster the response, the less damage done. If a company fails to respond quickly to these flare-ups, the consequences can last 10-years and not 10-days.

April 28, 2009

WOMMA’s … “WOM Enthusiast”

RSS Readers ... click here to view the video

Yep, I’m putting my marketing where my mouth is as WOMMA’s in-house evangelist for all things word-of-mouth (WOM).

In this role, I will help the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) better communicate with its members and non-members to promote the discipline of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. I’ll also serve as a WOMMA spokesperson addressing hot-button topics covered by traditional media and discussed in conversations happening in the online social media world.

Plus, I’ll be sharing thoughts on a new blog, the ALL THINGS WOM blog. On that blog, we’ll explore the arts and sciences of WOM that sells (and fails), wrestle with ethics issues, and showcase smart analysis from bloggers about all things WOM.

(Expect some overlap posts on the Brand Autopsy blog from the ALL THINGS WOM blog. Not much, but some.)

This "WOM Evangelist" role with WOMMA is an add-on to my day-to-day doings as a marketingologist with the Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice. (That's precisely why the video above shows me stockpiling extra sleep time.)

It is interesting to note when I began my private practice in early 2005, one of the first steps I took was to join the just-started Word of Mouth Marketing Association. And if you attended the first WOMMA Conference in March 2005, you probably saw me. (I was the dude in the white smock.)

Because WOMMA is the leading voice for ethical and effective word of mouth marketing, I can’t think of a better organization to work with. Given my marketing experience, my background with WOMMA, and WOMMA’s mission … it feels natural for me to work directly with them as their “WOM Enthusiast.”

Thanks for joining me on this ride. This’ll be fun.

March 10, 2009

The Difference is Why

Motivated by Seth's post on the difference between PR and Publicity, I excavated this juicy marketing quote from a vintage Brand Autopsy post (circa May 6, 2005).

”Advertising is when you tell people how great you are.
PR is when someone else says how great you are.”

— Guy Kawasaki —
(HarperPerennial reprint, 1990)

March 09, 2009

WOM in Action

A friend recently returned from a business trip to Europe. Before he left, we talked and I made some suggestions on places to visit in Amsterdam. Not sure if he hit Café Gollem for a Westvleteren 12. He hasn’t told me yet.

However, in a short email he did recommend a cool hotel: CitizenM.


Next time I’m at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I’m checking out the loo flies and CitizenM.


NOTE: For the uninitiated, WOM is shorthand for Word of Mouth.

February 08, 2009

Mighty Fine Word-of-Mouth

Recently Ben McConnell (Church of the Customer) shared his perspective on the distinction between Word-of-Mouth (WOM) and Buzz. (It’s a good read.)

His post rekindled some of my thoughts on Creationist WOM vs. Evolutionist WOM (video clip). The Creationist WOM marketing mindset is about making the marketing activity something to talk about as in attention-grabbing stunts and gimmicks. The Evolutionist WOM mindset is about making a company’s products, services, and or experiences worth talking about.

Creationist WOM marketers believe Word-of-Mouth just a marketing issue. While, Evolutionist WOM marketers believe Word-of-Mouth is an everyday business issue.

We’ve seen Creationist WOM theory at work recently with Denny’s stunt of giving away 2-million Grand Slam breakfasts for free and all the gimmicky commercials shown during the Super Bowl.

Specific instances of Evolutionist WOM theory at work are more difficult to notice. That’s because these marketing activities are not supposed to be easily noticed by customers. These activities are simply how a business does business. It’s less about marketing and more about how an interesting business operates everyday.

There’s a burger joint in Austin, TX that brilliantly practices Evolutionist WOM thinking — Mighty Fine Hamburgers.

No stunts. No gimmicks. No one-off marketing ploys. All Mighty Fine does is earn opinions by serving up remarkable burgers in remarkable ways.

Let me count some of these remarkable ways.

#1 – The Queue
Total cattle call. I’ve never been to Mighty Fine when the queue wasn’t at least 10 people deep. You go expecting to wait in line. Anticipation heightens the senses. Besides, long lines that move fast mean a restaurant is doing something right, right?

#2 – Fun Language
If you want Mustard, you gotta say, “Yeller.” “Red” gets you Ketchup and “White” gets you Mayonnaise. Mighty Fine could have gone the common, boring route with Mustard, Ketchup, and Mayonnaise. They didn’t. They decided to make the common uncommon. So uncommon that it’s worth talking about.

#3 – Service
Ask a Mighty Fine employee behind the counter how they’re doing and you’ll likely hear, “Mighty Fine.” They smile. They laugh. They look like they are having fun. Which all benefits the customer experience. Mighty Fine prides itself on hiring only “A Players” who are positive, supportive, and cooperative. To attract “A Players,” they pay above-average wages and offer much better than expected benefits. Mighty Fine knows by astonishing employees, they in turn, will astonish customers.

#4 – Assurance
When placing your order, the Mighty Fine employee writes all your requests directly on the bag. To close the order, the employee again goes over everything with you to best ensure you get exactly the burger you ordered. This process takes time but I’m sure it cuts down on mistakes. As a customer, I appreciate the thoroughness because it brings about assurance.

#5 – Picnic Tables
Old-school family-style picnic tables. Nothing fancy. Nothing fancy needed at a burger joint. This family-style seating makes it comfortable for all ages and helps to encourage conversations between customers from different parties.

#6 – Theater
Taking a page from Krispy Kreme's doughnut theater, Mighty Fine lifts the veil on some of their prep work. The window is wide open for everyone to see the ground chuck getting hand-formed into patties. The krinkle-cut fry cutter is always-on with an employee shooting whole potatoes down the cutting chute. The hamburger cooking and shake-making stations are just behind the counter for everyone to see. Mighty Fine has nothing to hide. It’s operations are in full view of every customer. (Unlike most burger joints.)

#7 – Quality
100% natural beef. Ground in-store. Hand-formed in-store. Fresh cut crinkle-cut fries. Sea Salt is the only salt used. Custom-made beef franks. Hand-dipped and hand-spun milkshakes. Quality is everything to Mighty Fine because they believe quality ingredients produce the tastiest food. (Hard to argue with Mighty Fine here.)

#8 – Smiles
Everywhere you look customers are having a good time. I’m a touch cynical; however, my cynicism subsides when inside Mighty Fine. A good hamburger in a family-friendly setting appeals to young, old, and everyone in-between. (Including this hardened marketer.)

#9 – Mighty Tasty
My Dad is a burger aficionado. In his nearly 75 years, Al Moore has cooked and eaten a lot of burgers. He’s burger expert if there could be one. After visiting Mighty Fine in January, he’s been talking about it with his circle of friends. I asked him what he tells people about Mighty Fine and this is what he says, “The place is awesome. Lots of production people, each knowing their job. The product is even more awesome — a top-notch hamburger. To my surprise, the family-style works. I’ll be back.” That’s one helluva endorsement.

#10 – Job Recruitment
Instead of a pamphlet by the soda machine to attract new hires, Mighty Fine uses a classic grocery store number dispenser like we used to use at the butcher counter. This dispenser is prominently located in the entry/exit way area for potential new hires to see going in and going out. A sign above the dispenser says, “Apply Now.” You pull the ticket and it directs you to a website to learn more information and to apply online. Again, Mighty Fine is simply making the common uncommon. Nice touch.

#11 – Clean Hands
It’s a “jacuzzi for your hands.” That’s what the hand washer says used at Mighty Fine. It’s the same hand washer employees use, so you know it is more sanitary than the common hand sink washer. Kids clamor to use this hand jacuzzi. Parents are always seen lifting up their kids in order for their hands to fit inside the washer. Of course, parents use it too because it’s just so unique you have to use it. Yet again … another way Mighty Fine takes something common and makes it so uncommon it's worth talking about.

Every one of these 11 examples are WOM-worthy. Each one showcases how Mighty Fine turns mundane business matters into something so special that they earn opinions from customers. Because these activities earn opinions, people talk. And because people talk, there is always a line at Mighty Fine. And because there is always a line, Mighty Fine has opened a second location.

Mighty Fine doesn’t need gimmicks to get customers talking. It just does business every day in such a way that people gladly talk about it.

Mighty Fine understands the importance of Word of Mouth. How do I know? This sign displayed in the exit way tells me...


October 04, 2008

WINNER | SWOMfest Haiku Contest

"Big Ups" to SCOTT ANDERSON ... his SWOMfest Haiku was chosen as the bestest. His prize is a comp'd ticket to SWOMfest.

Good goin' Scott ... great Haiku ... see ya at SWOMfest.

September 30, 2008

SWOMfest Haiku Contest

SWOMfest is happening in Austin on Thursday, October 30. Huh? ... SWOMfest? Yes, SWOMfest.

The Society for Word of Mouth (SWOM) is putting on a one-day conference which promises to share how companies can bake Word-of-Mouth into their business. Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell are the folks behind SWOM and given their experience as world-class marketers, best-selling business book authors, and sought-after speakers … you know this event will deliver upon its promise.

I’m going and so should you.

I believe YOU should go so much that I’m giving away a FREE TICKET to SWOMfest ($325 value).

Oh, but there’s a hoop you must jump through to get your FREE TICKET to SWOMfest …


Yep … you gotta write the coolest Haiku to get your pass to SWOMfest. Submit your Haiku in the comments section of this post and I’ll choose the coolest/funkiest/bestest one as the winner.

The entry deadline is FRIDAY, October 3 at 11:59pm (CST).

A winner will be announced on SATURDAY, October 4.

Need Haiku guidance? It’s a 3 line poem. The first line has 5 syllables, second line has 7 syllables, and the third line has 5 syllables.

Happy Haikuing.

** One comment per person. And make it word of mouth related. This is for a free ticket to a Word of Mouth Conference. Thanks. **

September 07, 2008

Buzz vs. Sustainable WOM

Kathy Sierra brilliantly (and succinctly) sums up the difference between "Buzz" and "Sustainable" Word-of-Mouth.

*** source link ***

August 09, 2008

A Visit to Snow's BBQ

Living in the Badlands of Central Texas has some benefits. I took advantage of one those benefits on Saturday morning by visiting Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX.

Brand Autopsy blog readers will recall an earlier post about Snow’s BBQ, a small town BBQ joint that was once hardly-known but now is widely-known thanks to hefty praise from Texas Monthly magazine.

Saturday was the day for me to make the hour-long drive to visit Snow’s and experience for myself the littlest bestest BBQ joint in Texas. I took along my itty-bitty camera and clumsily cobbled together this amateurish video of my visit. Enjoy.

July 29, 2008

Newest Poster Child for Word-of-Mouth


Ben McConnell introduces us (or maybe just me) to the newest poster child business for Word-of-Mouth Marketing ... TOMS Shoes.

TOMS Shoes is a Purple Cow business all the way. For every pair of shoes TOMS sells, they donate a pair to children in Argentina and Africa. Amazing story ... learn more by reading Ben's post.

June 16, 2008

Dave Balter on Word-of-Mouth


First came GRAPEVINE, now comes … THE WORD OF MOUTH MANUAL (TWOMM). Dave Balter, founder/ceo of the notorious BzzAgent managed word-of-mouth media company, shares his unique perspective on how best to get people talking about products/services in TWOMM.

True to his credo, he’s doing something to generate buzz. Instead of releasing the breezy-to-read TWOMM through a major publisher, Balter is self-publishing it. And, as any self-publisher must do, he’s self-promoting it by offering the manifesto as a free PDF download. He’s also offering it as a bound book for sale on Amazon.

But if you are of the read it on the screen ilk, DOWNLOAD the manifesto HERE.

Long-time Brand Autopsy readers know I ain’t the biggest fan of BzzAgent. On the WOM pendulum, Dave swings to the side of Creationist WOM and I steadfastly cling to the side of Evolutionist WOM.

While I dislike the BzzAgent model of using its BzzAgents as a media channel to produce organized word-of-mouth, I do like Dave. He’s a smart guy who seeks to be provocative. And being provocative is exactly what he’s doing when he writes, “99.999% of [marketers] will never achieve pure word of mouth.

Consider me part of the 00.001% as I’ve been fortunate to be a marketer who has relied on tapping into PURE word-of-mouth from evangelical customers from my marketing days at Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market. Both of those businesses were built upon designing and delivering a product and experience worth talking about.

Judge for yourself as to the validity that pure word-of-mouth happens only when the stars align a certain way. Do that judging by downloading/reading Dave Balter’s THE WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING MANUAL.

May 13, 2008

WOM Knowledge Nugget

From Hugh MacLeod's twitter missives, I read something that the marketer in you should also read. Word of Mouth isn't created by marketers, it is co-created with consumers. Right on Hugh, right on.


May 03, 2008


The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interview with Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo EVP of Sales & Marketing. The interview focused on the marketing strategies behind the U.S. introduction of Wii Fit, a gaming system designed to get people in game shape.

Cammie Dunaway explains there will be TV, Radio, and OOH advertising to support the launch but ... Nintendo is focusing much of its marketing attention on “public relations” efforts to get regular people to do the marketing for Wii Fit.

Cammie is a firm believer in the power of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) as a credible and effective marketing strategy. In the interview she doesn’t say anything earth-shattering new about WOM. Nevertheless, her sound-bites might give you some ammo in championing (or defending) Word-of-Mouth within your company.

WSJ: Videogame advertising has long been dominated by glitzy TV ads, yet the largest part of this advertising and marketing campaign will be the public-relations effort. Why?

Ms. Dunaway: "What we see is consumers are increasingly turning to friends, family and news articles as credible sources of information about products, more so than in the past."

WSJ: Why?

Ms. Dunaway: "It is because consumers are getting much smarter, because they have better access to information and they are able to share information online. They are bombarded with advertising messages -- so they have more tools to avoid that advertising today."

February 03, 2008

The Influenceables

Lots of chatter about Duncan Watts and his take that ordinary people have just as much influence as influential people have in making something popular. Cory, Guy, Seth, Spike, and scores of others have all chimed in.

On The Media interviewed Clive Thompson who wrote the Fast Company article that compellingly explains Duncan Watts’ word-of-mouth randomness theory. In the radio interview (available online here), Clive summarizes Duncan’s complex theory this way,

“It’s not how influential each person is, it’s how influenceable everyone else is. If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start it.”

Hmm … could it be the marketing society is ready to embrace the trend that individuals have just as much sway as influentials do in starting the next big thing? Could it be that marketers are an influenceable bunch?

July 10, 2007

Pesos por Pizza


While prepping for a presentation on Word-of-Mouth Marketing, I followed-up on Pizza Patron’s “Pesos por Pizza” promotion that began earlier this year (Q1 of 2007). The promotion is simple: Pizza Patron, a regional pizza chain focused on the Hispanic customer base, will accept Mexican Pesos or American Dollars.

Following on the Word-of-Mouth Marketing maxim of Remarkable Things Get Remarked About, word spread about the "Pesos por Pizza" promotion. Some loved the marketing idea, while others loathed it. Either way, one can’t argue with the results. Sales spiked.


June 25, 2007

Vetting Net Promoter

Last we checked in with Tim Keiningham, SVP at IPSOS Loyalty and co-author of LOYALTY MYTHS, was in December of 2005. At that time I posted some riffs on his LOYALTY MYTHS book.

Keiningham’s book debunked over 50 commonly accepted loyalty marketing practices, one of which was Fred Reichheld’s NET PROMOTER score. In discrediting Reichheld’s NET PROMOTER score, I felt his reasoning was more argumentative then constructive.

Tim emailed me today sharing his recently published article in the Journal of Marketing vetting the Net Promoter measurement. This time around, the reasoning from Tim and his co-authors is much more constructive than argumentative.

For some of you we need to backtrack with a quick backstory …

Fredrick Reichheld’s Net Promoter measurement contends companies no longer need to rely on expensive studies and complex statistical models to measure customer loyalty in hopes of increasing sales. Instead, a company only has to ask its customers one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [company x] to a friend or a colleague?" Knowing the answer to this one question allows a company to easily interpret where it stands in creating net promoters (evangelical customers) which in turn lead to sustainable, profitable growth.

Reichheld so strongly believes in the Net Promoter measurement that he says it is “the single most reliable indicator of company’s ability to grow.” His contention is backed by research done on select companies showing a strong correlation between a company’s growth rate and the percentage of its net promoters. According to Reichheld, “The more ‘promoters’ your company has, the bigger its growth.

With this paper, Tim and his colleagues set out to bring reasonable doubt to the claim by Reichheld that the Net Promoter score is the “single most reliable indicator of a company’s ability to grow.” To scientifically and statistically debunk the Net Promoter score, the authors attempted to replicate Reichheld’s findings using similar data and similar methodology.

I’ll pass on boring you with all the wonky research methodology used because you can read about it in the paper. Instead, here’s the gist of the paper’s findings …

“We find no support for the claim that Net Promoter is the ‘single most reliable indicator of a company’s ability to grow.’

The clear implication is that managers have adopted the Net Promoter metric for tracking growth on the basis of the belief that solid science underpins the findings and that it is superior to other metrics. However, our research suggests that such presumptions are erroneous. The consequences are the potential misallocation of resources as a function of erroneous strategies guided by Net Promoter on firm performance, company value, and shareholder wealth.”

So statistically speaking, the Net Promoter score may not be the “single most reliable indicator of a company’s ability to grow.” Okay … got it … after all, that’s a HUGE claim to make.

However, the Net Promoter score is still ONE indicator of a company’s ability to grow.

And as a marketer, I feel it’s safe to assume the more evangelical customers a business has talking up its products and services to others … the greater likelihood the business is growing and not declining. If all I have to ask, as a marketer, to determine this likelihood of growth, is to ask customers how likely is it that they would recommend this business to others ... SIGN ME UP.

That’s just my take. Read Keiningham’s research paper and decide on your own.

UPDATE: Tim Keiningham provided more insights in the comments section.

April 30, 2007

WOMMA Video Interviews

The coBRANDitT guys, Owen Mack and Jesse Buckley, were busy at the recent Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association Conference in New Orleans. They did video interviews with many of the speakers at the conference. You can access these videos here, including this one with me.

Below ... you can watch Ed Keller evangelize Word-of-Mouth Marketing and learn what Cluetrain Manifesto provocateur David Weinberger thinks of Twitter.