Tuesday, January 24, 2006

spread the word

I don't normally write about work on the blog -- unless I am using it as an excuse for why I haven't been around much lately. But I have an assignment, so bear with me.

The other day
I linked to John's blog in order to share with you where I had been the past couple of days, but I'm back to fill you in on a little more detail. I was down in Orlando being held captive at a Walt Disney resort by Mickey, Donald and Pluto and attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association "Basic Training".

Want to know what I learned? (There's some overlap here with
what John had to say. It's frightening, I know, but sometimes we think alike.)

6 (No, 7) Things I Learned at WOMMA

1. It's Not Just an Online Thing — Dave Balter, the CEO and Founder of BzzAgent, says that 80 percent of word of mouth marketing happens offline. One of my colleagues thought I was going to a blog conference (a bunch of pasty, overly opinionated people in one room -- sounds fun) and, while I knew I wasn't, I think I thought I was going to encounter much more of a focus on digital strategies. But I was wrong. Word of mouth marketing is happening on college campuses, in coffee shops, in store aisles and at the barber shop.

2. Word of Mouth is Happening Anyway, So Let's Be Strategic About It — WOMMA, as part of its effort to institutionalize the field, came up with a set of definitions, including the distinction between "organic" and "amplified" word of mouth. Organic? It's just what you think it is: it happens naturally. On this blog, for example, I tell you about things I read that made me angry -- or made me laugh. No one is paying me to do so. No one even asked me to do so. Offline, I might tell someone else about the mechanic that treated me like I was an idiot and whom I will NEVER go back to or about how fabulous it is to get my groceries delivered by Peapod. Amplified? (Note that the word choice is not "manufactured" or "manipulated".) It's word of mouth that happens when marketers step in to try to affect the way that you and I talk about their product or service or social message.

3. Pay Attention or Become IrrelevantGeoff Ramsey of eMarketer believes that marketers have ignored WOM for as long as they have because they're freaked out that they won't be able to control it. But ignoring it won't make it go away. The world is changing. Forget that. It has already changed. There are more products, more services and more channels and, more than ever before, customers distrust advertising and look to their friends for product recommendations. People are creating their own media -- young people and 80 year old women with very strong opinions, like Millie Garfield.

4. "Would you recommend us to a friend?" — Fred Reichheld of Bain says that this is "the ultimate question" that companies need to be asking their customers and he has some serious heavy-hitters backing him up on it: Andy Taylor of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Jeff Immelt of GE and Ken Chenault of American Express. Someone else at the conference said, "a happy customer is the best endorsement". Someone who has a good experience buying your product, talking to their doctor about heart disease, or participating in a clinical trial is going to tell their friends and family about it. It's all about trust.

Chicks Dig It — All sorts of folks were talking about how effective word of mouth can be when you are targeting women, most of which translated to "we talk more and we are better at maintaining relationships." I became a fan of Terri Whitesel, the President/Founder of Interpret-Her, a firm that specializes in marketing to women 35 and up. As far as Whitesel is concerned, "What motivates her to build personal relationships also moves her to build relationships with you or your client's products, services and company: community, consideration, fun, safety, loyalty, honesty, reliability, respect and thoughtfulness."

6. Build Loyalty, Not Just Awareness — I work in social marketing (there, I said it). I'm not trying to sell people products. But I am trying to "sell" people new attitudes or behaviors. Dave Evans of
HearThis.com says that, when you scale up a more traditional marketing campaign, you increase awareness: more people see your ads, more people know your brand name. But when you scale up a word of mouth marketing campaign, you are increasing the number of people who trust you (and your brand), as well as the level of their trust. In other words, according to Evans, if I can develop a strategy that can get more people to tell their friends and family members about my issue and to become invested and engaged in my issue and to make my issue their issue, then I am going to have a significantly greater impact than I will by doubling my ad buy.

And . . .

7. Now that I've been there, I'm okay that my parents never brought me to Walt Disney World. If I heard one more person tell me to have "magical" morning/afternoon/evening, Snow White and I were going to have to rumble.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now I know why she's called a WOMAn.