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Marketing You Don't Manage

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Friday, 27 April 2012

WOM…It’s An Art, It’s Science, It’s Theirs


Everyone wants to jump into the word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, communications den. The rewards seem huge. The problem is when the audience starts scratching, chewing divine intervention doesn’t answer the call. Source – Artist Peter Paul Rubens

In traditional terms, marketing meant advertising – radio/TV, print, direct mail, shows, etc.—and publicity.

But in 2009, Gallup reported that only 10% of folks really believed these folks.

Bummer, dude!

Fortunately, the iNet, Web and now mobile have rushed in to fill the gap. Suddenly there are fast, cheap ways of reaching people – search, keywords, converting traffic, online video, banners, email targeting, podcasts, webcasts and the nebulous but cool social media.

The sheer volume of information available has dramatically altered the balance of power between companies (marketing/communications) and consumers.

As folks have become overloaded, they have become increasingly skeptical about traditional company-driven advertising, marketing, communications.

The targets have taken control.

Oh sure, they prefer to make purchasing decisions independently; but there’s no reason they shouldn’t have a little assistance.

And the most efficient, most effective assistance is Word-of-Mouth (WOM).

Source - Forrester

Trusted Sources – To hear marketing people talk, there’s a world of ways to reach today’s consumer. The problem is, the information source they believe is one outside the company’s control. Source - Forrester

What’s the goal:
- Increase awareness, interaction with the brand
- Sales
- Create customer, fan community
- Increase website traffic
- Sales
- Identify customer wants/needs
- Identify customers, business opportunities
- Sales

That’s so cool!

Power Shift
The power shift to consumers reflects the way people make purchasing decisions.

People make their decisions to buy a product by drawing information from a growing number of traditional and “new” sources.

Word of mouth has a degree of influence at every stage of the process

No wonder marketing, web folks, ad people, publicists want to “manage” the action. You know, run LinkedIn, Facebook, Tweet, Digg, Flickr, YouTube activities.

So what if:
- iGen, YGen folks are dropping their Likes like flies
- Kids are tweeting for dollars now
- The most valued WOM guidance isn’t done at any of the online locations


WOM Conversations – Add the offline word-of-mouth (face-to-face and phone) and you have 92% of the conversations taking place outside a company’s sphere of influence. Perhaps that’s why quality of product and quality of service/support are of major concern. Source – Keller Fay Group

Yep, according to Mintel, 34% of the Internet users who bought a product or service based on a recommendation got that tip from a friend or relative.

A quarter took the safe route…advice from a spouse or domestic partner.

Word-of-mouth recommendations can move consumers to make a purchase.

Along the way, they gather information and insights to:
- Determine if they’ll seek out more information
- Pass along to others
- Build credibility/believability in what they’ve heard
- Determine if they’ll purchase

Of course, the top priorities should be an excellent product/service, trusting relationship and outstanding support. Then, everything should go smoothly.


Gentle Giants – Every company wants customers to be gentle giants to accept their best efforts and be happy with that. Unfortunately, they want more today … lots more.

The problem is, not everyone is sweet, cuddly, friendly.

However, the sheer number of people that purchase based on recommendations proves companies, marketing, communications have to pay attention to word-of-mouth … regardless of the challenges, dangers.

The biggest concern and stumbling block for most people who want to rush out to be the company/product advocate is that the online folks tend to fall into three main categories – pro, con, who knows.


Customers You Don’t See – Every company has a very visible group of happy customers. They’re the ones you want to talk with and hear from. Unfortunately, if there’s a large number under the surface who is dissatisfied, they can heat up the crowd. The key is cool off the detractors so at least they’re quiet, if not happy. Source – Zocalo Group

WOM Categories
Researchers at COLLOQUY recently “discovered” that the most loyal company/product champions (brand evangelists) said they (31%) were more likely to share information about a bad experience than a good one.

This is to be expected because:
- The folks they call Madvocates naturally feel a little more “entitled” because they’re talking about you more to folks.
- Service for the past five years of the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission’s) study was right up there with identity theft and debt collection.
- Folks who have problems are 10 times more likely to “tell others” than people who were satisfied.


Shouldn’t be.

They may want the lowest price possible, but they also expect the highest level of service available!

These folks are nothing like the negative folks. You know, your determined detractors.

These are the human black holes.

The time/energy/emotion vampires.

They both suck the life out of you.

They totally take all the fun out of being involved in the social media arena.

That’s probably why support people look terribly old after a few years on the job!

Don’t stoop to their levels, because your advocates and the bees feel sorry when they see them descend on you.

The strong ones will come to your defense--and more rigorously than you would have dared.

A fast exit button or social media wooden cross will get you outta’ there while the good citizens keep them busy.

Just don’t return!

Lots of company folks with a reasonably secure future lurk on the sideline like people going past an auto accident.

They have another reason for not getting involved…”better you than me, buddy!”

If that reason doesn’t work, they say it’s too new, too liquid and can’t be efficiently/effectively measured.

Deluded person!

Chatter Marketing
Folks call it chatter marketing – the art/science of monitoring the opt-in customer and prospects online behavior.

Every expert and would-be-expert offers monitoring/measurement tools – we found 20 -- (a lot of them free and some actually do something).

But recently, McKinsey developed a series of clear, concise graphics which highlight the WOM touch points and help you measure the results.


Measuring WOM – The challenge for management is to measure the value/return-on-investment for their word-of-mouth marketing efforts. The key is to determine the weighted impact of each message on the company’s brand. Source - McKinsey

With the McKinsey chart, it is pretty easy for you to follow the effect of WOM on your brand:
- The content has to address key product/service features
- It must give an identity to the individual sending the WOM message (they have to know something about the sender and his/her expertise)
- The message must circulate in the proper environment

Companies spend millions to develop elaborate, crafty ad campaigns, but the message that has the most impact and power is the WOM recommendation from a trusted source.

You can ignore human black holes and emotional vampires but their problems, issues, challenges won’t go away. Addressing them, working with them as best you can will help you keep pace with your peers…and your customers.

Everyone is on social media. They don’t know anymore about it than you do…don’t let 'em kid you.

WOM marketing?

Same thing.

Get onboard and get involved.

Just remember, people often push and shove on social media so…it can be rough.


Social Media Load – The hottest subject for marketing people (and the people who hawk them) is social media marketing. The great thing is, there are so many of the tools that are just right for you. O.K., so you don’t understand them all, but jump on … the more the merrier.

Remember how Leonardo DiCaprio warned you, “They don't want heroes; what they want is to see you fall.” Hits: 2069

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