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What it is and how to use it. A primer for software company CEOs and CMOs who need to drive sales with more credible marketing.
The goal of this white paper is to help you understand the process well enough to know where to turn for help. Awareness of word of mouth (WOM) is growing exponentially in the press and in the marketplace…and yet its application is often poorly understood. There are currently several versions in vogue. The major word of mouth trade associations (www.womma.org and www.vbma.net) are still struggling to define the ground rules for its deployment. This document offers the author’s views shaped over the past four years by many of the major resources impacting this powerful approach to new business. It provides solid case studies and shows how to get started. Many marketers refer to word of mouth as the world’s greatest sales force. It could be!
By Keith W. Bates
April 24, 2005, Version 1.7
About the Illinois Technology Association
THE ITA MISSION: The Illinois Information Technology Association exists to be a leading change agent that drives growth, development and retention of IT-focused businesses and talent in Illinois by providing networking, advocacy, resources and leadership. They serve members in Chicago-land and throughout the State and exist to help grow the number of successful businesses that create, deploy and utilize information technology as a core part of their organization. www.illinoistech.org
We represent the interests of our diverse membership at a local and national level, and work to connect member companies with each other and the resources they need to succeed. The ITA continues on a more than twenty year tradition of service to the technology community, and in 2005 was renamed from the Chicago Software Association (CSA). The CSA had a solid program and had been recognized as one of the most important technology organizations in the Midwest. ITA remains committed to continuing the good programs we began as the CSA.
About Keith Bates
The MISSION of this Keith Bates effort is to offer the members of the Illinois Technology Association a resource where they can benefit from the past four years of Bates’ research into Word of Mouth marketing. That research was preceded by 30 years as CEO/Creative Director of Keith Bates & Associates Inc., a high tech ad agency Bates founded in 1970 to serve exclusively the software industry. He also founded Walker-Bates, a high tech PR firm that he managed concurrently with the ad agency. Over those years his agency and PR firm supported the sales and marketing communications needs of more than 150 software/services vendors. www.kbates.com
What is the inspiration behind this seemingly altruistic effort? Bates was inspired by Peter Drucker, the great management writer and thought leader, who has a goal of learning something completely new, in depth, every decade. This decade’s learning for Bates (which began in 2001) has been word of mouth marketing and its application to the software industry. Today the technology industry is being challenged to improve both marketing’s efficiency and credibility while reducing costs. Word of mouth offers these solutions and Bates wants to share what he’s learned in hopes of shortening someone else’s learning curve.
Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW ………………………………………………………………………………………….. EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WOM ………………………………………… Word of mouth marketing defined ………………………………………………………………………….. Viral marketing explained ………………………………………………………………………………….... Benefits to marketers and buyers ……………………………………………………………..…………… Word of mouth stories and case studies …………………………………………………………………. Choose your approach: ……………………………………………………………………………………… Influencer Relations …………………………………………………………………………………. The Ideavirus ……………………………………………………………………………………….… The Shockvirus …………………………………………………………………….…………………. Costs overview ………………………………………………………………………………..……………… Challenges to implementation ……………………………………………………………..……………….. The deliverables from WOM marketing ………………………………………………………..………….. Launching a WOM program ………………………………………………………………………..……….. Understanding network hubs …………………………………………………………………..………….… Warning: Failure to explore all three could be hazardous…………………………………………..……. Random comments from practitioners, authors, WOMMA, and VBMA …………………………..……. Report on the first ever WOMMA Summit ......................................................................................... WOMMA Code of Ethics …………………………………………………………………………………..… WOM’S NATURE AS PRESCRIBED BY ITS AUTHORS/PRACTITIONERS ............................................ Regis McKenna, Word of Mouth …………………………………………………………………………….. Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point ……………………………………………………………………… Seth Godin, Unleashing the Ideavirus ……………………………………………………………………… Emanuel Rosen, The Anatomy of Buzz ……………………………………………………………….…… George Silverman, The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing …………………………………………... Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, Creating Customer Evangelists .……………………………………. Ed Keller and Jon Berry, The Influentials ……………………………………………………………..…… Paul Rand, Ketchum ……………………………………………………………………………………….… VBMA Global……………………………………………………………………………………………….… Andy Sernovitz, WOMMA …………………………………………………………………………………… CONCLUSION: A ONE PAGE CALL TO ACTION If you found this white paper provocative enough to study its details…then do something! ……..…. APPENDIX: A ONE PAGE LAUNCH OUTLINE A KBA Communications Support Plan focused on WOMM …………………………………………….. 4 6 6 6 6 7 11 11 12 13 13 14 14 14 14 16 16 19 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
With 100 user hubs your network has a reach of 10. Those four books are identified with stars on the Authors/Practitioners page. That’s also the year when four major books came into being expanding on the concept of word of mouth marketing. not just to create a buzz full stop. Managing Director of DMC Ltd. 4 . is whether WOM lends itself better to consumer marketing or business to business. It also overcomes the four most feared words in advertising. Paul Marsden. like PR. 100 hubs seems to be the magic number.…to add wings to your marketing. The goal of this article is to help you understand the process well enough to know where to turn for help. So when you have 10 users in the world. is a process not an event. or how to launch your own program. Viral marketing was pronounced marketing buzzword of the year for 1998. “I don’t believe you”. from 0 to 12 million subscribers in eighteen months. It was used to describe the phenomenon of Hotmail. according to Dr. which grew with the rapidity of a cold virus. Metcalfe’s law. WOMM Defined For the purpose of this white paper I am dividing word of mouth into several categories although in reality. because of the nature of the audience for this white paper. There is no point in 'going viral' without fulfilling a wider or longer-term strategic purpose. Viral marketing can employ either an ideavirus or shockvirus approach. friendly. Twenty five years after Regis McKenna published a brochure touting the value of word of mouth the term viral marketing was created by the VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. From the customers point of view word of mouth emanates from a trusted source. Viral Marketing Explained And from Justin Kirby.000 people. Benefits of employing WOMM increases with the square of the number of people using it. is credible. And then not much happened until 2001 when the July 30 issue of BusinessWeek carried Buzz Marketing as their cover story. One of the big mistakes brands make is thinking that an online viral campaign is an end in itself rather than recognizing that it's a means to an end. namely network enhanced Word of Mouth. Keep in mind that pure word of mouth has no limits on distribution vehicles. Its point is to create a buzz in order to help build brand and shift product. that’s 25 times better than when there were two.. buzz leverages media networks. the power behind viral marketing Metcalfe’s law tells us that the value of a network Perhaps the first issue to resolve. The answer is “both” equally well. while social networking is typically managed as influencer relations. In the B2B world it is particularly well suited to the pharmaceutical and technology industries because of the need for one on one conversation about technical aspects. And at 100 users your network is 1000 times better than at 10. For those who want nuances: viral marketing leverages digital networks. and tuned to the listener’s personal interests. WOMM/Viral/Buzz are all same thing. “In fact the most successful use of online viral marketing is not as a standalone tactic but as an integrated part of a brand's overall marketing strategy. spurs to your sales Executive Overview Awareness of word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is growing exponentially in the press and in the marketplace…and yet its application is often poorly understood. Viral marketing. and WOMM leverages social networks.
messaging and assistance with accelerated contagion or seeding.000 and will probably be based on a one year commitment.” They are the 10% who influence the 90%. and my friends from both WOMMA and VBMA.000 to $20. Choose the approach that best fits your needs. “The reason you focus on the creative agents is because the product normally doesn’t have a uniqueness that can be leveraged to amplify and accelerate word of mouth. ad agencies. Deliverables from your WOM marcom group Marketing’s deliverables include development of a virusworthy product or story. Post-it Notes and a dozen others you’ll find inspiring success stories. And referencing a recent Marketing Sherpa report. and they range from Ideaviruses to Shockviruses to Influentials. However they solve some big sales and marketing problems … like qualified leads. Napster. Trivial Pursuit. pioneering WOM authors. A point of clarification contributed by Justin Kirby. and often an overall reduction in the cost of sales. Netscape. Understanding network hubs Network hubs are individuals who communicate with more people about a certain product than the average person does.” “lead users.” Costs Overview You will encounter two sets of costs if you pursue a WOM program. So you make the creative agent/communications sticky because the product isn’t necessarily. Shockviruses are predicated on spreading the word based on superior advertising. Where to turn then? Help can be found via word of mouth consultants. These monthly fees can range from $5. “What’s the difference between Viral Advertising and Viral Marketing? Well any viral advertising campaign is doing viral marketing but what is specific about viral advertising is the use of creative agents rather than the amplification and acceleration of product recommendations”. Researchers have traditionally referred to them as “opinion leaders. And Influentials are predicated on spreading the word based on either evangelists. Second will be your out of pocket costs for production services which need to be estimated before a commitment is made … but this cannot be accomplished until the planning is done. So before putting all your eggs in the WOM basket be sure you develop a comprehensive Communications Support Plan. Challenges to implementation Both WOM and viral marketing can be a tough sell to management because they reflect a major change in the typical approach to marketing communications. shorter selling cycles. Ideaviruses are predicated on spreading the word based on a superior product. or the mavens and connectors that populate network hubs who are persuaded to spread the word based on either the user’s enthusiasm for the product or corporate sponsored relationships. First will be an ongoing monthly fee to design and manage the process. and BullGuard software security all offer exciting examples of WOM. 5 . To wrap this up read seven pages of random comments from practitioners. There are three.Stories and Case Studies From Stanley Arnold’s Tale of a Blue Horse to the incredible stories of Hotmail.” or sometimes “power users. databases of power influencers. but rather a component in your overall marketing strategy. and PR firms. Launching a WOM program I mentioned earlier that WOM is not a standalone tactic.” In industry they’re called ”influencers.
rather than an observed one. is typically both tedious and slow from a marketing standpoint. promotions and other traditional marketing activities can translate the goodwill surrounding your product into sales. Feedback is instantaneous. The credibility of the speaker carries over to the message immediately.…to add wings to your marketing. advertising. The Internet has changed all that. BETTER! But no guarantees! A recent study by advertising giant Euro RSCG Worldwide states that for generating excitement about products. Experts can be used in this medium without the negative effect of commercializing his or her position and message. Born in 2001. but it’s just one component of your marketing mix. This can be a major mistake. without electronic support.” To quote Emanuel Rosen’s The Anatomy of Buzz. It’s word of mouth on steroids. “It is an experienced process. “Digitallyaugmented” simply means using the Internet to deploy your VM program and email is the primary tool of choice. “I don’t believe you”. If charging people for exposure to your virus is going to slow down its spread give it away! Apple cut the price of WebObjects from $50. 6 . As the ability (speed) of customers to communicate with customers grows stronger. “To create buzz and use it effectively. you should have a realistic view of the phenomenon. or a “shockvirus” through word of mouth online.”Stop marketing at people. spurs to your sales Everything you ever wanted to know about WOM WORD OF MOUTH DEFINED Regis McKenna’s explains the difference between word of mouth and all other forms of communications with the following. or buzz. For example. the credibility of marketers communicating with customers grows weaker. To quote Seth Godin from his Unleashing the Ideavirus. It also overcomes the four most feared words in advertising. not glorify it. Distribution.” VIRAL MARKETING EXPLAINED Conceived in 1996. Efficiency… while taking time to disseminate the message is delivered directly to those who must use the information and act on it. CHEAPER. word of mouth is 10 times more effective than TV or print ads. It’s marketing’s response to the educated consumer and the Internet. some word-of-mouth enthusiasts argue that if you get good buzz. VM turns your $699 recognizing that unless a lot of people used their software no one would use it! WHY GO VIRAL? WHY CHOOSE WORD OF MOUTH? BECAUSE TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING IS COSTLY AND SERIOUSLY LACKING IN CREDIBILITY! And because viral marketing has become the latest stealth strategy for “qualified” lead generation. If you can achieve focus on your product’s virus-worthiness viral marketing will deliver th 10X the market impact at 1/10 the cost. Turn your ideas into epidemics by helping your customers do the marketing for you!” ideas into epidemics by helping your customers do the marketing for you.000 to BENEFITS TO MARKETERS AND BUYERS The simplest reason for choosing word of mouth marketing over traditional advertising is that it can be FASTER. Word of mouth has been around since the beginning of time but the spreading. Good buzz is the best thing you could wish for. It’s the management of an “ideavirus”. you don’t need to do any marketing. The message is tuned to the individual listener. What’s this viral marketing thing all about? Viral marketing (VM) is defined as managing digitallyaugmented word of mouth.
1968 comes the story of United Airlines and how they used word of mouth to inspire executive secretaries to choose United over competitors when charged by their bosses to book a flight. this is a horse of a different color. At that time United’s public image seemed to lack something. They had seen a blue horse out there. Finally the meeting began as General Foods announced to its salesmen that their company was going to give them the most exciting line of products in their company's glorious history. long-stemmed rose every Monday of every week for a year to the executive secretaries of the top 1000 CEOs (fifty-two thousand roses).” On meeting day the blue horse had been tethered to a tree about forty feet from the bar." one of the regional sales managers said to me. Y&R turned to Stanley who dreamed up the idea of a blue horse consistent with General Foods promise that the new product line would definitely be “a horse of a different color. And because traditional advertising is costly. but none could believe what their eyes told them. In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. The introduction of the gourmet line was dispatched beyond anyone's expectations. and offers instant feedback. General Foods finally revealed it was going into gourmet foods. (McKinsey consultants) put together a 125page summary of what later became the classic management book In Search of Excellence.” At that point they responded. 7 . their ad agency. is credible. Plus a bud vase with the first mailing. Young & Rubicam. The applause was perfunctory. very efficient. Some of the applause even sounded like hissing. Arnold’s suggestion: send a freshly cut. and lacking in credibility word of mouth marketing is becoming the best way to launch a brand. You might even say that compared to what you’ve been selling until now. In other words. "This is new territory for General Foods. but very quickly these individuals started discussing with others what they had read." the speaker went on. They gave it to just a few executives they knew. "These drinks are so damn good. WORD OF MOUTH STORIES AND CASE STUDIES From Stanley Arnold’s Tale of the Blue Horse. After the first round of drinks the salesmen of General Foods could not believe their eyes. rather than monologue. Everyone quickly had a second drink. dialogue. friendly. Within six months dramatic increases in ticketing occurred. and to the extent that experienced food salesmen can summon up enthusiasm for gourmet foods. Today the speed of information diffusion enable by the Internet is weakening the ability of marketers to communicate with customers and strengthening the ability of customers to communicate with customers. The result: doors closed previously to United salesmen were suddenly open. tuned to the listener’s personal interests. The meeting finally picked up momentum. Before General Foods could sell (new products) they first had to announce this new line of products to their salesmen—the men who would sit down with the buying committees of the retails stores and try to persuade them that a demand for (their new products) would be sweeping the nation (via word of mouth). Tom Peters attributes part of the success of his first book to an extensive seeding campaign. these salesmen were close to a level of exuberance. Now they knew what it was all about. not terribly productive anymore." All the others said the same thing. "I believe I see a blue horse out there.Why the viral marketing approach to word of mouth? In a nutshell it’s the speed and low cost distribution enabled by the Internet. was therefore asked to develop an imaginative idea that would help General Foods introduce (the new products) to its sales force with flair and confidence. In 1980 Peters and his coauthor Bob Waterman. From the customers point of view word of mouth emanates from a trusted source.
Edward Burlingame. often in bulk for their subordinates. It took just a few months after that for it to become yet another successful business communication device. demand soared. Comprehension and credibility were low. Journal article.000 users. It goes well beyond the Field of Dreams cliché "If you build it. Then the brand manager of the product persuaded the secretary of the chairman of 3M to send a case of PostIts to the secretaries of the chairmen of the other 499 Fortune 500 Companies. “Airlines in bankruptcy usually don’t have the luxury of grinding through precious dollars with fancy image campaigns to reassure nervous travelers. So Jan Brandt mailed 250 million CDs to seed the market. But Peters believes that these copies were important in generating word of mouth and sales. supportive reviews appeared. but needing to collaborate on a common project without using their company’s email. you go out and plant seeds all around the forest. Here are a few guidelines: VIRAL MARKETING TACTICS: As word about the coming book started to spread. spread so fast in only a few months that it threatened the entire recording industry and appeared on the cover of Newsweek! The story of Post-It notes is so good it ought to be apocryphal but it’s actually true.000 copies represented 25 percent of that amount." Peter recalls in Thriving on Chaos. Within two months they had 100.000 copies in the first year. Suddenly. Napster. RESULTS: In Search of Excellence sold 1. meaning that the 15. the most powerful sneezers in the most powerful companies in the country were sending around memos.VIRAL MARKETING STRATEGY: Successful seeding is an active process.000 (plus at least an equal number of photocopied knockoffs) hurried to buy the real thing. 3M was going to cancel the whole program. A classic ideavirus. and by eighteen months they had 12 million subscribers. The program cost $300 for a new user worth only $124. Samples were sent to celebrities mentioned in the game. said that the company expected to sell around 60. Suddenly they had a bright idea…a free email service that could be accessed through the web. The term viral marketing evolved from this success story. It worked. all containing comments scrawled on Post-Its. United spent some $30 8 . Buzz was accelerated by a seeding campaign. AOL had formed alliances with major media but the masses weren’t responding. With only $300. From a recent Wall St. "Within days of the book's launching. a way of networking people’s hard drives so that they can share music. THEN THE INTERNET ARRIVED The Hotmail story started in 1995 with two young men from Silicon Valley. who commissioned the book for Harper & Row. The helped start trivia parties which in tern were encourage by more than 100 radio stations asking trivia questions. Nobody was buying the. Microsoft bought Hotmail for $400 million and as of 2001 was signing up a hundred thousand people a day. and the authors decided to seed the market with 15." Rather than waiting passively for people to come to you.5 million copies in hardcover alone. they will come. and the network of 15. A word of mouth program launched both electronically and faceto-face started to spread the word. In 1993 people didn’t really understand online services. They also sent teaser mailings to toy buyers just before a major industry toy fair. It was good old word of mouth marketing at Internet speed. The game of Trivial Pursuit sold 20 million copies in 1984 but word about the product didn’t spread by contagion alone.000 in VC seed money they launched the company. After reaching their tipping point costs dropped to less than $100 per new user. Emanuel Rosen calls this type of acceleration leapfrogging.000 copies of this preliminary report. Their publisher was worried that Peters and Waterman were giving too many. each working for a different company.
17 days early. an average of one every 7. Shannon called her project "howfastorfar2003@aol. E-mail chains that seek responses from around the world are the latest rage in science-fair projects.455 e-mails flooded in when she reopened it on Jan. 4. Shannon Syfrett. By Jan. and Visitors' Bureaus such as the Las Vegas CVB. travel fell drastically in the United States and the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) determined that there was a need for some immediate action to encourage Americans to travel again. employees. There were 8. according to CMR/TNS Media Intelligence. the viral e-mail (although we like to call it "video e-mail). usually Journal: On Jan.which coincided with Veterans' Day . Inc. Word of mouth makes the front page of the Wall Street While Starbucks and those offering Wi-Fi at hotels and airports advertise their services online and through local promotions. Participants included Hotel Operators such as Ramada and Travelodge. 31. That was her first miscalculation. there were another 37. Messages from Libya and Iran popped up on Feb. Take the viral e-mail and forward it on to their email lists (vendors. This is the most prestigious Tourism Communication Competition. Now. But airlines do have an army of messengers in flight attendants. her log shows.. We asked two things of our members: 1. 16. Shannon pulled the plug.2 minutes. 24. 13. TIA forwarded to each of its 2. a man telephoned from France to complain that he couldn't get his e-mail through. transporters like Amtrak.3 seconds. The e-mail included a link back to the SeeAmerica. gate agents. Publicis Groupe’s Fallon Worldwide is managing the marketing plans. the request she had sent to 23 people generated 200 e-mail replies.768 e-mails on Jan. Following the Sept 11 events." and she expected that in six weeks she "might get 2. As such. On Feb. she had received 160. messages had arrived from 47 states and 25 countries. a 15-year.478 e-mails from 189 countries and 50 states.org 2. 9 . From iMedia Communications.200 members the flash creative and encouraged them to forward it to their own e-mail lists -thereby hundreds of thousands of would-be travelers.million on advertising in the first half of the year. as kids set out to learn where and how fast information travels. Jan.com. Hence.013 three days later. customers. REI determined that a grassroots e-mail campaign leveraging the association's members was by far the most cost-effective and impactful means of reaching Americans interested in travel. Submit a special deal to be posted on SeeAmerica.org deals section. but 9.000" replies to her note asking people to write back and then pass her message along.854 e-mails.000 or 3. including Australia and Zimbabwe.000 incoming messages--but stilI.old ninth-grader at Central Academy in Macon. Overwhelmed and sick with the flu. Shannon and her parents emptied the electronic mailbox 35 times--it holds 1. 2. 14. Campaign Insights: The campaign won a gold medal at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) annual awards ceremony held in New York in January. The next day. etc. and another 12.2 seconds. They were now arriving one every 7. Altogether.. in the majority of cases word about free WiFi “hot spots” spreads by word-of-mouth—and fast. one every 2. and ticket-counter people. On Feb.) From George Silverman: A complicated piece of machinery required extensive research to buy. The association conceived a "See America Day" -. crisis specialist say. and the key is to get them plugged in and on board quickly with positive spin on a financial restructuring.and asked Ripple Effects Interactive (REI) to propose a cost-effective Internet-based campaign. United’s ad agency. launched a chain letter over the Internet. Miss. Shannon shut down her screen name for 2 1/2 days. of course this all needed to be done with a very little budget. 5.
Budweiser. while at the same time showing that the company had nothing to hide. Disney. Reynolds. Citigroup. Airwalk Company. Century Wilshire Hotel. shown how to evaluate it. Centers for Disease Control. Audi Automobile. Car & Driver Magazine. Avon. which took about a year. Microsoft.com for a Denmark client of his www. Yahoo. BullGuard develops security software for the home user The following case study is presented by fellow VBMA member Claus Moseholm of GoViral. Star Wars. Apple Computer.taking about six months.com. making the videos appear very realistic . AOL. This word of mouth. Integrated into BullGuards corporate website enhancing trial downloads. It then needed to be compared to the alternatives. First USA. Xerox Parco From "The Tipping Point". Honda. Coca Cola. Lotus. Intel. Nintendo. Another year. Microsoft. Columbia Record Club.com/movies Background . Intuit. Hewlett Packard. McKinsey & Company. BullGuard is a small company operating in a battle of the giants (Norton & McAfee) . The company did it by giving away the first versions of its product. Taco Bell. Viral is inexpensive compared to other consumer advertising Objectives . Avon. BullGuard's marketing budget non-existent . . To brand BullGuard as "the young rebel" in the security industry . Ziff Davis. cut the decision time by multiples. Miller Brewing. More than 10 million views . Glaxo Wellcome. 317% growth in revenue in year one after launch . The whole thing was compressed into about eight weeks by holding a seminar/training program. Edison. Warner Brothers. 3COM. Ford Mustang. Saks Fifth Avenue. ABC News. DaimlerChrysler. Significant percentage of trial software downloads . Gore-Tex. Neiman Marcus. Campbell Soup.or video-cam shot. To generate trial downloads of the BullGuard security software package Solution . Barnes & Noble. EBay. surveillance. Sun Microsystems. FedEx. Roche Laboratories.J. Prozac. Videos communicating overall USP . given extensive (and flattering) competitive materials. "Real life" web-. Coca Cola. Hush Puppies Shoes. New York City. AOL. Dell. which also took months. Macy's. Charles Schwab. Proctor & Gamble. R. CBS. Kodak. Sesame Street. Netscape captured about 90 percent of the Web browser market before it placed its first ad. Compuserve. Palm Computing. Amway. To build awareness and interest towards a global target group of home Internet users competitors due to increased brand awareness. Then it had to be rolled out gradually. Union Bank of California. Hotmail. with training. to achieve this feat). Eudora. Plenty of PR and funnier company presentations WHO ELSE IS DOING THIS? RECOGNIZE ANY OF THESE NAMES? From "The Anatomy of Buzz" the listed companies include: Amazon. Polaroid. Armani. then following it up by audio teleconferences. From "The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing": Adobe. Access to retail distribution side by side with main Netscape Navigator: Built entirely upon word of mouth. Cisco Systems.bullguard. United States Postal Service. . General Motors. Growth in search engine traffic . Blair Witch Project. Netscape has now been overtaken by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (which stole a process patented by Eolas Technologies Inc. applied to several critical bottlenecks in the decision process. and by word of mouth. MCI. Twentieth Century Fox. Harper & Row. 10 . Verizon DSL. Dell Computer.clips adjusted and optimized during the first weeks after launch Results . McDonald's. Daily surveillance . Crisco Oil. Google. TV Guide. Apple. with a hotline to thirdparty experts. and encouraged to try one against the other-all in a carefully structured trial that kept several prospects in touch with each other and with customers. Napster. primarily on the Internet. Nike. . Then it had to be tried. The decision makers were given the material that would have taken them months to find. CNN. AT&T. Pepsi. Winston Cigarettes. Wall Street Journal. BMW.
the mantle of thought leadership and influence has fragmented. eToys. authors. although each is vital to the overall communications mix. TV 15 years. Hotmail and Napster got the hang of viral marketing. CHOOSE YOUR APPROACH There are several approaches for launching word of mouth marketing and they vary substantially so it seems worthwhile to study them separately. Toyota. That's not practical or possible. Nike.” LAUNCHING INFLUENCER RELATIONS: From my friend Patrick Rooney of Expand Communications come the following thoughts: “What is Influencer Relations? Influencer Relations is a program to help ensure clients benefit from the lasting Start by getting management’s acceptance of the principles of the seminal Ed Keller/Jon Berry book on influencer relations titled The Influentials. Rexall. Netscape 3 years. American Airlines. Regis McKenna summed it up well in his 1982 brochure on Word of Mouth which states. Clairol. Certainly we know this is true in the media and financial community. which I have arbitrarily divided into the Ideavirus approach and the Shockvirus approach. Microsoft. colleagues and peers. Polaroid. I wish I had understood influencer relations at that time. Yahoo!. only that they touched the concept in some manner deemed worthwhile by the various authors. pundits. Harry Potter. Lycos. Kodak. the purchasing process is influenced by a broad array of friends.” Many years ago I managed the high tech public relations firm that I founded with Rich Walker. FedEx. only several have real influence and impact. Hotmail. Atkins Diet. Amazon. Reebok. • INFLUENCER RELATIONS value of their relationships with elite industry influencers. by talking to everyone in the world we can better communicate our message. To reach 10 million users it took radio 40 years. Mary Kay Cosmetics. Audi. Martha Stewart. The buying decisions of your customers are influenced by a far broader base than media and industry analysts. AOL. Herman Miller. Sports Illustrated. researchers. and then to reach. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. While there may be dozens of magazines and mountains of analysis covering an industry. Hallmark. Apple. eBay. I cannot verify that these are all case studies of viral marketing. There are probably no more than 20 or 30 people in any one industry who have a major impact on trends. Budweiser. com. American Express. ToysRUs. academics. Time Warner. Today. A memo may reach them easier. resulting in the need to expand your communications. Amazon. Priceline. and both Hotmail and Napster less than a year. Hotmail. Google—all of them succeeded because an ideavirus was unleashed and spread. MCI. Twentieth Century Fox. Starbucks. “Regarding the 90-10 Rule – by now one might be saying. Yahoo. but credible word-of-mouth approach will be far more influential and effective. these new influencers. VW Beetle. ‘Okay. Intel. Coke. Napster. What’s more. and many others. Star Wars. Marlboro. This is true within companies as well. Right!’ But the 90-10 rule states that 90 percent of the world is influenced by the other 10 percent. McDonalds. making it necessary to understand how to identify. A relatively few people hold the key to power in any organization. Barnes & Noble. 3M. standards. each market has its own set of influencers.From "Unleashing the ldeavirus". GeoCities. Burger King. Schick. Tommy Hilfiger. PC Magazine. Post-itNotes. Amway. McKinsey. Simply put. American Greeting. Variations on the public relations industry concept of Influencer Relations seems to be one of the more popular but equally powerful in a slightly different fashion are two flavors of viral marketing. 11 . Google. The companies in the foregoing list were referenced in the four books published on the topic of word of mouth/viral marketing in 2001.com. Cisco. Palm. Tupperware. Broadcast. This is not to say that these key influences are easy to reach. opinion and a company's image or character.
although the lines are blurring today.The following outline is presented to you courtesy of Ketchum’s recently introduced. “If an idea doesn’t stop people in their tracks. The Ideavirus was really the pioneering viral marketing catalyst and traces the concept of its origin back to Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm where he discusses technology adoption. For success a large user base is imperative. 2. The contrasting term. refers to the normal upgrading of products that do not require us to change behavior. Viral marketing in the UK is a little different than the early efforts of viral marketing in the US. Traditionally great ideas last longer than great presentations. continuous innovations. 7. And at 100 users your network is 1000 times better than at 10. ultimate influencers. proprietary IRM (Influencer Relationship Management) program. They focus more on “shockviruses” than “ideaviruses”. not fighting it. target and connect with individuals and groups that can directly affect buyer’s perceptions and behaviors. Depending on where you live. So when you have 10 users in the world." Ideaviruses represent discontinuous product innovations. actions and impact of Key Three and Initial Influencers 3. 1. simply two schools of thought. Start the process of market segmentation and identification of “key three” most critical proponents. "…any time we are The challenge I’ve encountered is with startup companies who don’t have a hundred users and are reluctant to give product away.” Ideaviruses have nothing at all to do with incremental change. You must think long and hard about which approach is best. you may be exposed to either ideaviruses or shockviruses. or with established companies who get a lot of money for their product and To quote Seth Godin. “…to embrace ideavirus marketing techniques you also have to accept a change from the status quo. And many of the executives who are now in charge made their way to the top by embracing the status quo. So if you don’t have a unique idea perhaps you should explore a shocking presentation…which is what many companies in the United States and the rest of the world are doing these days… LAUNCHING AN IDEAVIRUS: • THE IDEAVIRUS An Ideaviruses is about the concept of the product while a Shockvirus is about the presentation of the product. With 100 user hubs your network has a reach of 10. Engagement 6. that's 25 times better than when there were two. initial influencers. buyers and decision makers. I like Geoffrey Nicholson’s (VP Technical Planning/Technical Ops for 3M) statement from some years back that I saved. Strategic Alignment (program development) 5.000 people. benchmarks and programs formalized IRM measures specific agreed upon values.” First. Measure: With priorities. then maybe it’s just an incremental change and not an innovation at all. It uses a highly targeted approach rather than traditional mass media to identify. and often the biggest challenge is to get management acceptance of Metcalfe’s law that tells us that the value of a network increases with the square of the number of people using it. Ecosystem and mapping is based on clearly determining desired mindset. 12 . Manage introduced to products that require us to change our current mode of behavior or to modify other products and services we rely on … such change-sensitive products are called discontinuous innovations. 100 Network Hubs seeming to be the magic number. Prioritization and Benchmarking. One is about good ideas and the other about good presentations. Both are effective. Their leading practitioners depend more on powerful graphics than unique product attributes to convey the power of the product. 4.
whether ongoing or of the 90-Day Blitz variety. Shockviruses tend to have a shorter life than ideaviruses. the actual deployment of the strategy/tactics. It is a fully integrated 3 month program that combines traditional media with interactive media to create a sense of event. and experience to build a virus so provocative that it spreads to epidemic proportions … like the recent Subservient Chicken from Burger King. Viral augmentation tactics also will be heavily dependent also on the Internet. and are often supported by public relations. Write copy /design storyboards to support the Shockvirus and generate buzz 4. For the PLANNING MODULE and its three components typical monthly fees of a marketing consultant. This person could come from the ranks of creative consultants or ad agency creative directors. 2. First there’s a Planning Module that delivers an audit of the market followed by strategy development which is in turn followed by the creative process. For 20 years it’s been a hot seller at the Bates agency. 3. But ideaviruses are dependent on powerful product discontinuous innovations while any brilliant creative director can come up with a shockvirus. Then you follow these next few steps which have much in common with the Ideavirus approach. which in turn produces a substantial flow of leads in a very short time with minimal commitment of financial resources. COSTS OVERVIEW To use the Marcom Engine model I developed many years ago is to use a six step process that is common knowledge among marketers. what makes your product virusworthy? If you can’t come up with an answer fix the product.are reluctant to give up any income. Expose the virus through regular/mega hubs. whether independent. What’s a 90-Day Blitz? Simply a deluge of marketing materials that acts as a quick fix for inadequate lead flow. Augmentation typically uses traditional integrated direct marketing programs. NOTE: Before considering a viral marketing program please take a moment for introspection: What is the buzz that your company wishes to spread. Pioneered by Ernan Roman it’s a multimedia. Identify Regular and Mega level hubs within your Network Hubs databases. DMC and The Viral Factory were early proponents of this approach. Other issues to contend with have to do with augmenting your viral marketing. And the second challenge is then to assign a viral marketing / creative consultant to work with the production company who understands the product and market well enough to keep the viral creatives on track. Ideaviruses traditionally have relied more on unique product attributes although that is changing rapidly as I write this. LAUNCHING A SHOCKVIRUS: The first challenge to getting started with the Shockvirus approach is locate a production firm with the creative expertise. hopefully to epidemic proportions? In ten words or less. and finally the tracking and maintenance of the program. Support the epidemic with accelerated contagion which can be ongoing ad and PR work or a blitz tactic. These giveaways should be considered beta sites. 1. lead generation activity based on response compression techniques. Because either approach will wear out its welcome once the newness and excitement grow old you must explore ways to augment. Develop virus-worthiness concept/strategy around which the Shockvirus will be developed. Second is the Execution Module which develops the arsenal of marcom tools. 5. or reposition your marketing differentiation message. • THE SHOCKVIRUS Shockviruses are typified by shocking graphics and tend to rely more on entertainment and visual excitement for their distribution. or attached to an ad agency or PR firm 13 . or maintain or reinforce your message.
THE DELIVERABLES FROM WOM MARKETING Depending on whether you opt for influentials. And they are found as spokes in your Network Hubs and are further refined as Regular Hubs (non-media people). consider changing the product—or the playing field. But word of mouth marketing? What’s that? It wasn’t invented here. and by reducing the waste and inefficiency of the typical random task approach to marketing. expose the virus through mega/regular hubs.can range from a low of $5. Reducing the overall costs of marketing. and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.000 to $20.000 or more for large companies in big markets. three for Planning and three for Execution but can be shortened for convenience to three: • Audit and Strategy: Do your homework. direct mail. The big one follows. Start by creating small movements first. or ideaviruses the deliverables may vary slightly but from any of the approaches you should receive: • Development of a newsworthy product • Database of power influencers • Message development • An accelerated contagion strategy LAUNCHING A WOM PROGRAM One approach is the Marcom Engine from which evolves the Communications Support Plan. Shortening of selling cycles. Build a marcom team. The Marcom Engine blends the disciplines of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) with Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) as well as concepts from Geoffrey Moore‘s TALC (technology adoption life cycle) approach in Crossing the Chasm. The Marcom Engine typically consists of six modules. Plus … it is the single most efficient way to manage a product launch. UNDERSTANDING NETWORK HUBS The following section on Network Hubs was extracted from Emanuel Rosen’s The Anatomy of Buzz. viral marketing can solve some BIG marketing problems. and then edited by Keith Bates. However. Like achieving quarterly revenue goals. Increasing the numbers of qualified leads. and Mega Hubs (media people). and websites is done every day. shockviruses. or positioned to appear so. For the EXECUTION MODULE and its three components costs cannot be estimated until the planning stages. complete with media strategy. They’re called power influencers and evangelists. are completed and are more inclined to represent out of pocket expenses. Your idea needs to be inherently unique. copy and art. They can vary dramatically from one campaign to the next depending largely on media and the complexity of your accelerated contagion plan. A paradox of word of mouth marketing is that before creating one contagious movement you have to create many small movements first. Develop a plan. This means that before you can fan the flames you have to ignite the fire. Then plan support with accelerated contagion. Monitor. Budgeting for ads. Remember also that an ideavirus adores a vacuum. If you’ve got a product and it’s not unique. Identify network hubs • Creative and Arsenal: Develop virus-worthiness messaging. Igniting the fire means that first you must understand the “Law of the Few”. Build the arsenal. And inspiring employee and vendor evangelism. Spreading the word depends on people who are either experts or possessed with a rare set of social gifts. CHALLENGES TO IMPLEMENTATION Both word of mouth and viral marketing are often a tough sell to management because it reflects a major change in the status quo. You’ve got to be first. • Deployment and Monitoring: Define a media plan. It drives revenue enhancement by fine tuning the value proposition into the most compelling reason to buy. 14 .
and litigation). stimulate them to teach others. They are Ahead in adoption. 2. which refers to the press. and politicians. the nature of network hubs may differ from industry to industry. or ask questions via email/snail mail. WHERE DOES ONE FIND NETWORK HUBS? There are four methods commonly used: 1. or Opinion Research. Building a system to record information about hubs is mostly a matter of making everyone at your organization aware of them. Network hubs are usually not the first to adopt a new product. Connected. targeting hubs first (before PR and ads). corporate governance. known as Mavens and Connectors. Travelers. moreover. or self designating. analysts. and I have little new to offer here. 15 . not much is definitively known about network hubs. Surveys can be subdivided into socio-metric. are trusted by their peers. Mavens tend to specialize in one narrow field of interest (movies. Informationhungry. 3. Letting network hubs identify themselves. don’t abuse the relationships.NETWORK HUBS Network hubs are individuals who communicate with more people about a certain product than the average person does. be sure people Mavens (those who accumulate knowledge) are listened to because they have demonstrated significant knowledge of a certain area (at the very least.” “lead users. The fact is. these efforts primarily gather titles only. Timing is important. computers. regular mailing addresses. but they are at least slightly ahead of the rest in their networks. Vocal. Identifying network hubs through surveys. or are simply more socially active. Regular hub tactics first challenge is keeping track of them. Spotting network hubs in the field. e-mail addresses. seeding is often required. Let me offer an easy acronym you can use to remember them: network hubs are ACTIVE. acting as regular folks who serve as sources of information and influence in a certain product category and may be connected to only a few other individuals-or to several dozens. give them the facts. they have convinced others of their authority on a subject). And Mega Hubs. Responses from ads in trade publications. Connectors know lots of the right kind of people. celebrities. This means capturing the names of those who visit your website. informant ratings. What others do not usually discuss is how to go about reaching the millions of regular hubs who can spread news about a product. Greenfield Online. Studies can be done online using such resources as RoperASW. trade shows. To do this you must join a community. Researchers have traditionally referred to them as “opinion leaders. or solicit help from those already inside the community. You won’t find their names and addresses in any directory—identifying network hubs is substantially more complex than renting a mailing list. So I will focus here on reaching regular hubs. 4. as well as information about the scope and source of their influence and the nature of the networks they belong to. give them something to talk about. Identifying categories of network hubs. However. The database you build should have telephone numbers. HOW TO WORK WITH NETWORK HUBS Mega hub tactics—“the media”—are well known by publicity people.” or sometimes “power users. Connectors are those people in every group who are more central because they are charismatic.” There are two major types of “Network Hubs”: Regular Hubs. or attendance at conferences.” In industry they’re called ”influencers. Both these categories have subsets. and Exposed to the media more than others. But the rewards for paying attention to these people can be huge.
the idea that WOM is a C2C phenomenon is ill-informed and plain wrong.) Linda Zimmer: “What makes metrics a tough nut to crack is that viral/buzz marketing must focus on all types of modern media not just web. Paul Marsden: “However. I've seen a Heinz 57 Dr.” Justin Kirby in response to Keith Bates request for RANDOM COMMENTS FROM PRACTITIONERS AND AUTHORS Plus FRIENDS AT BOTH WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Assn. which often means releasing a web-first viral edit of a mainstream variety of alternative marketing techniques being presented as the antidote to the fragmented and cluttered media landscape advertisers are now faced with.) AND VBMA (Viral+Buzz Marketing Assn. I suggest you liberate case studies Online viral marketing’s three main purposes and benefits from a strategic viewpoint are: 1. I've also chaired Marketing Week's Non-Traditional Marketing Conference in London in December. WARNING: FAILURE TO EXPLORE ALL THREE WORD OF MOUTH OPTIONS COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR MARKETING HEALTH. To kickstart new marcom activity. when they want it. or smart tags. 2. tactics and costs. rather than being based on a simple CPM model. or Internet. email. a podcast. All are based around the simple idea that product placement research (seeding trials) with internal decision makers is the solution to igniting WOM. and been a panelist at Ad:Tech New York and DM Show in London in November. To maintain or boost a cost-effective level of brand awareness during ATL media spend 'downtime'. The business classic Diffusion of Innovations (which author Everett Rogers attributes to WOM) is full of B2B examples. Yes consumers use the product but the marketing is B2B. I predict that alternative marketing campaign success will be measured in terms of the impact on customer recommendation rates and the correlation between the increasing instances of these and sales. It has to reach the customer where they are. hi . That can be SMS. Thriving on Chaos. has different underlying strategies. Be sure to explore them carefully before making a choice as they are quite different in nature. Each of these approaches. usually by releasing web-only viral material that retains the brand and campaign themes. Justin Kirby: As you probably all know by know I recently chaired the Alternative Marketing & Advertising Conference in Melbourne Australia mostly thanks to my colleague Piers Hogarth-Scot at DMC Australia bringing me up as co-founder of the VBMA. one year? A great viral campaign can influence me to buy months down the road. 3 months afterwards. It helped Prozac become the biggest selling prescribed drug ever. as is Tom Peter's Thriving on Chaos.the books are full of them. over what period of time? During the campaign. B2B examples: “Obviously (your audience) never heard of Phase IV research in health care marketing where influentials are seeded with products in the name of research. sales/revenue is the final measurement. Secrets of WOMM. But. 16 . There are probably more B2B case studies of WOM than C2C. and in the manner in which they want it (my term is liquid media). If sales is the ultimate goal. As you can imagine. The whole area of change management is a B2B offer and the entire healthcare industry is based on B2B programs between drugs companies and healthcare providers. social networks. and Anatomy of Buzz .see hubs using your product. Shockvirus. or Influentials. and beware Mega Hub bias. from Diffusion of Innovations. whether Ideavirus.” Dr. Paul Marsden: “Keith.
That’s why Dell’s ads look like catalogs. On the topic of connected for example…network hubs in the high-tech industry tend to gravitate toward other network hubs from whom they can get more information (which they then will transmit within their cluster). money. 3. People have to rely on other people's experience to substitute for all or part of the experience they would get in a trial. In these markets the natural spread of word of mouth must be accelerated.ad before it hits TV. What kind of products lend themselves to buzz? Products that somehow create high involvement among customers: Innovative products—like Netscape. pharmacists. the more word of mouth comes into play. Since 1984. This is true because these products are more risky in terms of time. or that require only online distribution to a widespread target group. They are Ahead in adoption. Online viral marketing is simply another way of telling a story. but in a manner that is appropriate to the peer-to-peer and file-sharing activities that web users engage in. As an effective standalone marketing tool for brands that either can't afford ATL marketing. and George Silverman. and Exposed to the media more than others. The more expensive and complicated a product is. Vocal. where there's no prize for second place. Several Internet Emanuel Rosen. "Our company started by word of mouth. How do you identify network hubs? Use the acronym ACTIVE. To see the full impact of this. buzz about Cisco has been spreading relentlessly on the Net. Connected. you need two things: a contagious product--one that has some inherent value that makes people talk—and someone behind the scenes who accelerates natural contagion. High-ticket products are not as easily tried as simple consumer products. architects. Cisco sells the hardware devices that glue the Internet together. To find these other 17 . Technology markets. there are cases where having a great product or service alone is Travelers. Information-hungry. The Anatomy of Buzz: My own experience with buzz has been mostly in the software industry … newsgroups are dedicated to Cisco's products." says Keith Fox. Don’t be concerned about boring expert hubs. vice president of corporate marketing at Cisco. Yes. It's also worth bearing in mind that integrating online viral marketing within the overall marketing mix doesn't mean making sure the campaign's graphics and straplines are the same across all media. Dell Computer Corporation came to realize that network hubs are willing to spend twenty minutes with an ad and go through the specs and the features. and potential damage to professional reputation. are almost like presidential election campaigns. in order to create a buzz and exploit the exclusivity factor. and financial advisors) is very different from word of mouth for relatively low-ticket consumer products. Winner takes all. look at a company like Cisco that has always served a tightly connected customer base. Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Word of mouth among business people and professionals (such as physicians. the more you depend on their buzz for future business. all of its customers (network administrators and information technology managers) are heavy users of the Internet. There was no advertising. enough. but these typically occur when capacity is limited. depending on the specific channel and audience. Complex products—like software. For buzz to spread. for example. Having a good product is not enough. It means telling a similar campaign story in slightly different ways across the media used. The more connected your customers are to each other. almost by definition.
But in practice. tends to be neglected. If you subscribe to the belief that we’re all connected by a chain of no more than six mutual acquaintances then you might want to consider Emanuel’s math: “Even in a small network that consists of only 100 people. and hang out in on-line forums that discuss the topics they are interested in. fax. This type of product creates visual buzz by generating excitement simply by people viewing them in action. For most products and services it is usually the feeling of excitement and delight you get when your expectations are exceeded.950 possible links among them. In a network with just 1. Products that “do the rest”. These are products that self-propagate by leaving traces of themselves behind—paper trails or other evidence of their passing. they go to trade shows. To learn how to help create buzz. Products that fit peoples preexisting beliefs spread faster. since it is not always easy to trace. Numbers make a big difference in getting the word out. Example: Kodak’s 18 . and from these hubs to the public. 2. 5. marketers sometimes target just a handful of “influencers”—not the full 10%. Yet the twostep model has been blithely assumed by countless 6. Products that become more useful as more people use them. Products that are easy to use spread faster because customers are hungry for simplicity. and email It’s crucial to understand that buzz about a product never spreads as simply as the two-step flow model would indicate—from company to media and megahubs. Products that advertise themselves. there are 4. Products that are compatible. There are two traps companies can fall into. are examples. If you exclusively focus on the two-step flow model. The first is thinking that creating buzz is all about network hubs.” Almost all companies try to go after network hubs. 4. The spread of buzz. When Moses complained to God that he could no longer control the people of Israel. These activities result in additional links to the outside world. companies over the years. Many experts agree that the percentage of opinion leaders on average in the population is about 10 to 15 percent.network hubs. The best buzz comes not from clever PR or advertising but rather from attributes inherent to the product itself. less visible population of four thousand of them. as follows: 1. Telephone. you can leap to the dangerous conclusion that direct Gabriel Weimann traces the notion of (WOM) all the way back to the Bible. Products that leave traces. God told him to gather “seventy men of the elders of Israel” and use them to spread the word to the rest of the people.000 members there are almost half a million possible links!” communications with your customers is not important. But there’s a big difference between going after an elite group of forty influencers and going after a broad. The second potential trap lies in a narrow interpretation of the term “network hubs. Products that evoke an emotional response. join user groups. 3. you should be able to answer these questions: • From whom do your clients or customers typically learn about your product? • What do people say when they recommend your product? • How fast does information about your product spread compared with other products? • Who are the network hubs? • Where doest the information hit a roadblock? • How many sources of information does a customer rely on? Which ones are more important? • What other kinds of information spread through the same networks? Contagious products can be grouped into six categories.
Tell us what’s new. Message needs to be simple to be easily passed along. and getting the facts straight. Talking with current users of a certain software package helps customers reduce the risk associated with the purchase. Can advertising simulate buzz? What about ads that masquerade as word of mouth? This is a tricky topic. advertising can help buzz. The six rules about ads and buzz: 1. So in this chapter I want to focus on answering three questions: 1. they organize networking events for their current customers. Don’t tell customers you care without proving it. serves network administrators who virtually live online.” When a customer has to explain just one step. 3. testimonial advertising. 2. (The shockvirus approach). so you’d expect Cisco to use online methods to spread the word about its products. Consider the “friendly” tone. ALWAYS EXCEED EXPECTATIONS! 2. Keep it simple. Monitor the network. It does so by jumpstarting the process. for example. REPORT ON THE FIRST EVER WOMMA SUMMIT Held in Chicago on March 29. 3. The Net is used to maintain those relationships. Because Listen to buzz. Embrace the lifestyle of the virus. Start measuring buzz. Don’t make claims you can’t support. Keep it relevant and news worthy. and they attend dozens of trade shows. advertising can also kill buzz when people feel that someone is shoving the message down their throats. advertising is a tool that should be used very cautiously if you want to promote buzz. Helpful to ask two questions: Will the ad help network hubs answer questions they may get from other people in the networks? Will the ad stimulate members of the network to seek information from network hubs? 6. When used correctly. Just ask! 5. You have to understand that an ad can hardly ever enjoy the credibility of buzz. Ask your customers to articulate what’s special about your product or service. Improve messaging. Can advertising stimulate buzz? Absolutely. Can advertising kill buzz? Although there are many good reasons to advertise. Seth Godin. But Cisco doesn’t limit itself to the online world. Unleashing the Ideavirus: Why do some viruses burn out more quickly than others? The simplest reason is that marketers get greedy and forget that a short-term virus is not the end of the process. it’s the beginning. reassuring buyers. “You press the button. The company organizes more than one thousand seminars every year to meet potential customers face to face. reaching hubs. The extensive buzz about high tech products is also driven by their complexity which makes them difficult to evaluate. her likelihood of completing the ‘sales pitch’ successfully is much higher than if she had to describe seven steps.first camera copy line. Very few ad agencies pretest for conversational impact. They do. However. you can build a self reinforcing virus that lasts and lasts and benefits all involved. we do the rest. Fluff doesn’t travel well. it’s also worth noting that ads can sometimes hurt genuine word of mouth. 4. DOES MADISON AVENUE STILL MATTER? The truth is that very few products can rely on buzz alone. 30 was the first ever summit meeting for the newly formed Word Of Mouth 19 . By nurturing the attention you receive. Admit that few viruses last forever. A good ad can help get people talking. Cisco Systems. Relationships with many customers start via face-to-face communication.
‘Viral’ is only one form. George Silverman and Mark Hughes … plus 47 other luminaries from the world of marketing. but in fact a subset of this awesome On day one of the Summit. First WOMMA Summit (March 29-30.com on March 31. 2005) last minute. hopping onto a bus for a long evening of storytelling at the beautiful downtown Chicago Reza’s restaurant on West Ontario. 2005) a smashing success. is that Viral Marketing. Singapore are only a few of the dozen the author can recall) to fill the Grand Ballroom. The closing of the first day’s session.” This WOMMA conference was the forming of a new industry in America. The heart warming camaraderie was coming to a close as the world’s first-ever word of mouth marketing conference came to an end. Canada. One of the things I learned. In a very well done hand-out from Greg Wester of Soapbox Marketing he makes the point that we. complete with ethics code. (Reprinted from my weblog at www. marketing reliant upon the transfer of a pre-fabricated marketing message between and amongst consumers.Marketing Association. need to go beyond viral marketing pointing out that VM is “a form of I felt it. was an exciting luncheon exercise put on by Jackie Huba. The last two days represented an incredible learning experience even to me who has immersed himself in word of mouth and viral marketing for the past four years.keithbates.” He goes on to say that “the result of this confusion is that marketers wise enough to focus on improving word of mouth often unwisely limit their scope to ‘viral’ marketing. In addition to the exciting presentations. which is what I have been pursuing aggressively. Word of mouth marketing includes any marketing where consumers are responsible for the message’s content and/or message distribution. “There’s a sense of history in the air.com.blogspot.womma.com) had just pulled off what seemed like an impossible. using word of mouth only. best selling authors Emanuel Rosen. With no advertising. Ed Keller. This event ran until 10:00 (your author. Poland. WOMMA outgrew the original venue and had to relocate at the friend Paul Rand. head of Ketchum’s global technology practice and developer of IRM (Influencer Relations Management). WOMMA CEO Andy Sernovitz (email@example.com. A blue ribbon panel of speakers included a stirring presentation by Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki. somewhat to my consternation. advertising and public relations including my In only a few short months of existence WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) www. Brazil. found nearly 300 people. education council. a little older than most of the crowd. as WOM practitioners. a form of digital marketing hyped by email technology As I wrapped up my role of moderator for the last two sessions of an incredible two days I sensed a reluctance to leave among the 350 attendees who jammed Chicago’s Intercontinental Hotel. An exhilarating time was had by all. And what followed was two of the most rewarding days I’ve had in years. co-author of Creating Customer 20 . Word of mouth marketing is obviously an idea whose time has come. Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. providers and advergame developers.org. Can you feel it?” communications tactic. generated over 100 charter members and rounded up attendees from all over the world (Austria. Herculean task. is not the end-all of WOM. in the opening letter from my WOMMA folder I found a message. and buyers guide … all readily available at www. went home at 9:00) standards council. and very-well done (and brief) PowerPoints. the halfway point. not at all tired from a day’s worth of marathon speeches but full of enthusiasm.
part of the total marcom mix. consumer ratings web sites or forums. Jackie and Ben have written a small paperback supplement to their big book and handed out copies to everyone over a box lunch on Wednesday to support a little exercise. or ad agencies … but to anyone who has an interest in marketing communications that can put the process in motion. not necessarily limited to the domain of PR firms. When Emanuel Rosen announced from the stage that I was developing a white paper on WOM to be published by the newly formed ITA (Illinois Information Technology Association-.formerly the Chicago Software Association). Customer Evangelist. moblogs (sites where users post digital A title that should soon be appearing on the client side. Word of Mouth Manager. cofounder of WOMMA: Consumer-Generated Media (CGM) Another important point that was made is that WOM is now a mainstream marketing tool. personalities and issues. our industry. Each person was assigned a table and then a chapter within the book to study and discuss per a round table discussion. social networking web sites and individual web sites. but it is by far the most potent. And in fact it is typically better started by an internal company evangelist and then supported. postings on public Internet discussion boards and forums. Do we. I think the key issue is that full responsibility must reside with a single empowered individual who should be as close to the CEO as the CMO … or closer! Today’s blog is totally inadequate for presenting all the great material that speakers shared with the audience but a few that stood out from my own personal One point made repeatedly that I think is important to share is the issue of whether WOM is a BtoC or BtoB phenomenon. by outside professionals. as WOM practitioners. perhaps most appropriately traditional Product Managers should morph into. perspective were the following: From Andy Sernovitz. circulated and used by consumers intent on educating each other about products. or sustained. services. Oprah’s Pontiac’s) but there were endless exciting BtoB stories covering businesses ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to a Chicago area Automotive Consulting Group. or images/photos/movies). and vigorously reject the latter. should be Online Community Manager. Because the consumer approach is so highly visible it gets most of the press (Subservient Chicken. blogs (short for weblogs. The answer is both! It is equally effective whether consumer or business focused. in his opening remarks: … there are two visions of the future concerning what we do. The comments and results were then gathered for review by the WOMMA group for publishing. describes a variety of new sources of online information that are created. WOMMA CEO. including but not limited to: consumer-toconsumer email. Although influenced or stimulated by traditional marketers and marketing 21 . It made for a very vocal. initiated. From Pete Blackshaw of Intelliseek. CGM refers to any number of online word-of-mouth vehicles. or marketing companies. I was approached by innumerable people offering me their cards with promises of BtoB stories to share. in addition to VP or Director of Marketing. brands. Ever growing in number and format on the Internet. and our jobs … and we must make a conscious choice regarding each as we move forward. fun filled lunch hour.Evangelists. or digital diaries). It’s not always the fastest. or assume the additional duties of. want to be viewed as the voice of the consumer—or manipulators? As partners in a unified WOM industry— or isolated niche specialists? As marketing pros—or experimenters on the edge? In order for the WOM industry to grow and flourish it is obvious that we must vigorously pursue the former alternative in each case.
From Keith Bates: If you’re reading my blog regularly you know that it was established almost two years ago to share my knowledge and experience with both viral marketing and word of mouth and that it’s goal has been to help readers understand the process well enough to know where to turn for help. and for Andy Sernovitz. of PR. A big two thumbs up for WOMMA. WOMMA published its draft Ethics Code for the And in taking your product to market keep in mind that while case studies are important. 6) useful information is the currency of influence. Measurement. ads. Visit their site. Tell Andy that Keith sent you. and it often carries far higher credibility and trust than traditional media. 8) you get what you WOMMA Code comes down to the Honesty ROI: • Honesty of Relationship: You say who you're speaking for • Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe • Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity. The growth of its influence poses challenges and opportunities for marketers. Summit. because we need to know what a home run looks like before we start the game. 7) let go of corporate control of the message.activities. Creativity. In other words build a small flame first.. 2005. For more information visit www. 2) relate to people as individuals. 4) give people a way to tell you what they think—and take it seriously when they do. bellwether of great campaigns. Participate. join the organization. stories resonate better.org 22 . pay for. eight simple rules of WOM: 1) treat people like they’re smart and savvy—because they are. Read the PowerPoint PDF’s soon to be available from the Another note: For all of us who grew up in direct response you may want to know that WOM lends itself particularly well to test marketing. online word of mouth is nonetheless owned and controlled by consumers. clients.womma. The essence of the From David Ries of DEI. This is a first step in the complicated process of building an industry based on consumer respect and fundamental ethical principles. www. into consumers. ten questions to ask yourself before your next marcom campaign: 1) Does this product lend itself to WOM? 2) Are we reinforcing the concept and the message behind the product? 3) Can we release information gradually? 4) Are we giving our customers something to talk about? 5) Do we give them an opportunity to get involved? 6) Are we making it easy to spread the word? 7) Can we stimulate interaction between customers? 8) Can we identify network hubs by category? By their activism? Through surveys? 9) Are we seeding the networks? 10) How is this campaign going to affect the network hubs credibility? break with tradition. and share your experiences so that all of us who believe in the power of WOM can do an even better job for our clients and our customers.org. especially as media channels become more fragmented and less trusted. From Rick Murray of Edelman. to From Emanuel Rosen. 3) reach people on their terms. because all people are innate story tellers. word of mouth marketing industry on February 9. 5) conversation/test is the new medium. Integration. Courage. Awareness of word of mouth is growing exponentially in the press and in the marketplace…and now you have the best resource anywhere . and then use it to fan the flames of a conflagration…after learning what your market responds to.womma.. five words to consider: Insight.
Unleashing the Ideavirus Emanuel Rosen. many of whom have had a powerful influence in shaping his knowledge and opinions regarding word of mouth and viral marketing over the past four years. Creating Customer Evangelists Ed Keller and Jon Berry. 23 . WOMMA Keith Bates is personally acquainted with nearly all of the people above. Word of Mouth Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point Seth Godin. Ketchum Viral+Buzz Marketing Association Andy Sernovitz. The Anatomy of Buzz George Silverman.WOM’S NATURE as prescribed by its authors and practitioners Regis McKenna. The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing Jackie Huba/Ben McConnell. The Influentials Paul Rand.
embellished and verified for each person. word of mouth requires someone who "knows" the influencing factors. HOW TO START A WORDOF-MOUTH CAMPAIGN The Message. opinion and a company's image or character. Word of mouth is not appropriate for all communication. by talking to everyone in the world we can better communicate our message. Word of Mouth The difference between word of mouth and all other forms of communication include: • It is an experienced process. Ask the question. • Efficiency. standards. credibility appeal. Unlike other promotional tools. The message in word of mouth is embodied in a living. but credible word-of-mouth approach will be far more influential and effective. A memo may reach them easier. • Experts can be used in this medium without the negative effect of commercializing his or her position and message. understanding. Segmentation. emotional person. the message is delivered directly to those who must use me information and act on it. You must break down the network into manageable pieces and identify major influences within each segment. It is changed. Analyze the segment. • Feedback is instantaneous: agreement. The message itself has to be developed and analyzed. altered. "Okay. not understanding. rather than an observed one. This is not to say that these key influences are easy to reach. • The message is tuned to the individual listener. "How does information pass within each segment and how are the segments linked?" Then ask. A relatively few people hold the key to power in any organization. simplified. adaptability and support. experienced people. There are probably no more than 20 or 30 people in any one industry who have a major impact on trends. Certainly we know this is true in the media and financial community. "Who are the most influential people within each segment?" Pick the targets.Regis McKenna. THE 90-10 RULE By now one might be saying. While there may be dozens of magazines and mountains of analysis covering an industry. This is true within companies as well. Word of mouth is most effective when one wants to build credibility and establish lasting ties or when commitment is most critical. 24 . • The credibility of the speaker carries over to the message immediately. It is effective when the message must carry intangibles such as commitment. Make a list of the 20 or 30 major influences and assign the most credible members of the organization to deliver the message. That's not practical or possible:' Right! But the 90-10 rule states that 90 percent of the world is influenced by the other 10 percent. disagreement. This task must be done by knowledgeable. only several have real influence and impact. breathing. While word of mouth takes time to disseminate.
Ideas. How to choose the people who will spread the epidemic. and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious. or a satisfied customer fill the empty tables of a new restaurant. children's television. The Power of Context (Part One): Bernie Goetz and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime 5.the Law of the Few. and Salesmen 3. and the Power of Translation 7. Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends. when they reach their critical mass. The Law of the Few: Connectors. 25 . the Stickiness Factor. Conclusion: Focus. and the Search for the Unsticky Cigarette 8. He analyzes fashion trends. The importance of memorable product exposure. 2. The Tipping Point In this brilliant and groundbreaking book. the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth.Malcolm Gladwell. The Three Rules of Epidemics. These are social epidemics. and salesmen (persuaders). If your product is not inherently exciting you must position your message so that it is. What You'll Learn In The Tipping Point: Directions for reaching a Tipping Point. Mavens. The Stickiness Factor: Sesame Street. and the Power of Context -. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu. so too can a few fare-beaters CONTENTS 1. The Presentation is everything.offer a way of making sense of epidemics. and has the ability to move people. connectors. behavior. You'll learn how to identify mavens. and visits a religious commune. You'll learn how the three rules of the Tipping Point -. Case Study: Rumors. Sneakers. Smoking. and one of the world's greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics. is the Tipping Point. Spreading the word depends on people who are either experts or possessed with a rare set of social gifts. and the moment when they take off. Case Study: Suicide. The Power of Context (Part Two): The Magic Number One Hundred and Fifty 6. you often have to create many small movements first. The paradox of the epidemic (viral marketing) is that in order to create one contagious movement. those specific and relatively small elements in the environment can serve as Tipping Points. and Believe and graffiti artists fuel a subway crime wave. smoking. and products. a successful high-tech company. Understanding the power of context. direct mail. and the Educational Virus 4. he argues. Blue's Clues. messages. New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in our society so often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. You'll learn to become sensitive to the circumstances and conditions of times and places. often spread like outbreaks of infectious disease. Test.
• Continue creating noteworthy online experiences to further spread new viruses.that's an ideavirus. Instead. Ignite consumer networks and then get out of the way and let them talk. Ideaviruses give us increasing returns. Unleashing the Ideavirus If you don't have time to read the whole book. and hope that some will send you money. and an ideavirus is always about the new. Learn why you must focus on "sneezers" those people best qualified to start an epidemic. • • Achieve "lock in" by creating larger and larger costs to switching from your service to someone else's. so that competitors now have a very difficult time of un-teaching your virus and starting their own. While ideaviruses aren't new. but ideaviruses get bigger. 26 . and thirteen question ideavirus marketers must have answered. Why Ideas Matter. How to tweak the formula and make it work plus a look at the eight underlying variables that impact success.. why unleashing and ideavirus is more than simple word of mouth. Get permission from users to maintain an ongoing dialogue so you can turn the original attention into a beneficial experience for users and an ongoing profit stream for you. • Fill the vacuum in the marketplace with your version of the idea. An ideavirus is a big idea that runs amok across the target audience. word of mouth dies out. An idea that just sits there is worthless. And finally. the key steps to building a virus. how to create an environment where consumers market to each other. But an idea that moves and grows and infects everyone it touches . The key steps for Internet companies looking to build a virus are: • Create a newsworthy online experience that's either totally new or makes the user's life much better. 6 reasons why ideaviruses are so important.Seth Godin. ideaviruses are the currency of the future. can market to each other. the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people What You’ll Learn In Unleashing The Ideavirus Why ideas matter. Word of mouth is not new it's just different now. in large groups. You can't afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages. starting with your core audience of raving fans. and 7 ways an ideavirus can help you. Or makes an offline experience better/faster/cheaper so that switching is worth the hassle. In this section you'll learn about the holy grail for people who deal in ideas. Understanding the ideavirus formula. they're important because we're obsessed with the new.. The holy grail for anyone who traffics in ideas is this: to unleash an ideavirus. bringing you a large chunk of the group you're targeting without having to spend a fortune advertising the new service. here's what it says: Marketing by interrupting people isn't cost-effective anymore. • Have the idea behind your online experience go viral. How to unleash an ideavirus. 5 things ideaviruses have in common.
here illuminates the reality of how "buzz" can be launched and managed so as to more rapidly reach a critical mass (the tipping point) of adopters for one's innovation. Putting It Together 16. Why We Talk 4. that "do the rest". others become more useful as people use them. don't make claims you can't support. How to assure success. that we talk because we're programmed to talk. ask your customers to articulate what's special about your product or service. But ads can hurt as well as help. Active Seeding 11. You'll learn how to identify and nurture network hubs. Stimulating Buzz 9. You'll learn that some products evoke and emotional response. Success In The Networks 7. The Elements of a Good Story 12. products that are compatible. And you'll learn that there's still a need for traditional advertising. or perceived to be dishonest.Emanuel Rosen. Does Madison Avenue Still Matter? 14. You'll learn to think of viral marketing as a buzz accelerator and that very few products can rely on buzz alone. The Anatomy of Buzz Emanuel Rosen. How Buzz Spreads Part Two. Working with Network Hubs 10. the importance and techniques of "seeding". and it builds momentum. CONTENTS Part One. It's a Small World. some leave traces. You'll also learn the structure of these networks and about the energy and credibility required to make it work. with nine years experience as Marketing VP for a Silicon Valley software company. Can advertising kill buzz? Yes. 27 . which it spreads through invisible networks of very special people. if it's shoved down their throats. Contagious Products 8. the importance of having a good story. Buzz Workshop What You'll Learn In The Anatomy of Buzz How buzz spreads. Network Hubs 5. some advertise themselves. How Buzz Spreads 1. So What? 6. Accelerating Natural Contagion Part Three. And lastly examples of people who did it and how. start measuring buzz. and listen to the buzz. Six rules about ads and buzz: keep it simple. It's called Leapfrogging. Viral Marketing 13. Buzz in Distribution Channels 15. You'll learn that buzz is all the word of mouth about a brand. Plus skills at channel deployment. and the power of gossip. tell us what's new. The Invisible Networks 3. and that nothing happens without the establishment of network hubs. What is Buzz? 2. followed by a Buzz Workshop chapter that Seth Godin says "by itself is worth the entire price of the book!" Does Madison Avenue still matter? Yes! The truth is that very few products can rely on buzz alone. promotion and PR to accelerate the whole process but that the timing of this stuff is critical. How to stimulate the spread of buzz.
#23. can be turned to your advantage. sales can routinely be increased three to ten times or more! #3. #7. in word of mouth. CONTENTS CHAPTER 1-Dominating Your Market By Shortening The Customer Decision Cycle CHAPTER 2-The Power of Word of Mouth CHAPTER 3-The Nine Levels of Word of Mouth CHAPTER 4-Harnessing Word of Mouth CHAPTER 5-Using Word of Mouth to Speed the Decision Process CHAPTER 6-Delivering the Message CHAPTER 7-Viral Marketing CHAPTER 8-Researching Word of Mouth CHAPTER 9-Constructing a Word-of-Mouth Campaign CHAPTER 10-Word of Mouth. Different types of decision makers need different types of word of mouth at each stage of the decision cycle. Word of mouth must be approach systematically. as a campaign. you are navigating spheres of influence. There is a way to experiment with ways to influence the natural word of mouth and verify that it is in fact persuasive. spontaneous word of mouth. #12. #18. There are many reliable mechanisms for delivering word of mouth. #20. all potentially controllable. #9. confirmation and verification are more important that information. In word of mouth marketing. #26. Word of mouth is paradoxically the most powerful and most neglected force in marketing. There are basically two levels of word of mouth. #10. There are many different types of word of mouth. Experts are more approachable that ordinary people. the "Tried and True" Way CHAPTER 11-Campaign Methods That Work Best t CHAPTER 12-Practical Tips and Suggestions CHAPTER 13-The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing CHAPTER 14-An Allegory: The Emperor's New Marketing CHAPTER 15-The Future 28 . #4. "Word-of-mouth advertising is a contradiction in terms. #25. #19. unlike in conventional marketing. the sequence and source are just as important. #15.George Silverman. As important as content is. Paradoxically. Selling is mostly an illusion. In word of mouth marketing. #24. Word of mouth either explodes at an exponential rate or it fizzles. Word of mouth is as easy to structure and use as traditional advertising. Single most effective method for speeding up decisions is word of mouth. #5. but only through total honesty. In word of mouth marketing. The usual rules of advertising and salesmanship are often counterproductive in word of mouth marketing. There are over a dozen reasons why word of mouth is so powerful. #16. #8. any perceived attempt to influence the content will totally invalidate the communication. once understood. The overriding characteristic that gives word of mouth its power: word of #11. #17. Credibility is more important in an expert than fame. expert and peer. #14. #13. Word of mouth is literally thousands of times as powerful as advertising. By influencing word of mouth directly. #6. All of these reasons. The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing Twenty-Eight Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing #1. #27. #2. #28. and their relative power varies at different stages of the decision cycle. There are many ways of producing and delivering "canned" word of mouth that are almost as powerful as live. There is a specific way to research the naturally occurring word of mouth so that you can identify exactly what your customers are actually saying. #21. It is almost impossible for your product to succeed unless it has massive positive word of mouth. The word of mouth among your sales force can be more important than the word of mouth among your customers. #22. negatives can be more reassuring than positives about the product.
Creating Customer Evangelists You are an evangelist. your products and services. add a field that asks how people discovered you. which illustrates the actual routes of how they landed customers via word of mouth. colleagues. do not send them a cease-and-desist letter. realizes it. unhappy customers just want to be heard and acknowledged. perhaps.” From their research into the best practices of some of the most forward-thinking companies. Keep detailed records of how people discovered you. better. Perhaps you didn't realize that you are an evangelist-a bringer of glad tidings-but your sphere of influence.Jackie Huba/Ben McConnell. or evangelists link to your site. (Note: Protect your trademarks against competitors.courage links to your site. The difference between an unhappy customer and an evangelist is often just a phone call. This creates customer vigilantes. movies. which computer to purchase. or your industry. logos.) En. Invite them in to a special club with other evangelists where they get inside information about products and services. They talk about your company. Cultivate relationships with them. Build the buzz: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks. If it was from a friend or colleague. If customers. You want to gather as much information as possible from this field. what restaurant to visit. If you have an opt-in e-mail list. made up of friends. This is pure crap espoused by prosecutorial-minded lawyers intent on making customers play by ridiculous notions of trademark protection. and some are absolutely gushy with their praise. and professional communities. Make them feel extra special. 29 . Napsterize knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely. McConnell and Huba outline and explain the six basic tenets of creating customer evangelists: Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback. send them a hand-written thank-you note. Watch for customers who post recommendations about you. Use Web site tracking software to understand how Web site visitors discover you. Would you like to know who they are? How do you find your evangelists? Short of spy cams and hidden microphones. animations-anything that makes them feel connected to you. Many say nice things. And from Guy Kawasaki… “Sales is rooted in what’s good for me. Keep them in your loop. HOW TO SPOT EVANGELISTS AND WHAT TO DO WITH TH EM People talk about you. which clubs to join. not customer evangelists. They are your volunteer sales force. prospects. With some of our clients. especially if the referrals are from people. Continually refine the quantifiable nature of this field. More than anything. Scan the Web using your favorite search engine and discover where you are mentioned online and by whom. Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share. You tell others what movie to see. Those are your evangelists! Be an active participant in e-mail discussion lists and online bulletin boards that your customers frequent. Grant an unhappy customer that wish. which books to read. which dentist you prefer. Provide fans with pictures of your products. family. ask the prospect for the name of the referrer. it's not difficult to find your evangelists. Create a cause: Focus on making the world. wherever fans would like to create them. Do not let your corporate counsel argue that fan sites contribute to brand dilution. smaller offering to get customers to bite. A map of customer connections quickly illuminates your biggest evangelists. Ask prospective customers specifically how they discovered you. we create a Buzz Map. Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialized. Passionate. and your personality. Make note of everyone who compliments your products and services and everyone who criticizes them. not customers. fans. Evangelism is rooted in what’s good for you. For the people who love you. Your recommendations are sincere. Here are a few ideas. find a way to contact them via e-mail or ask if it's OK to talk on the phone. which cell phone to buy. For those who take issue with your products or services.
Who are they? The most influential Americans-. government. You should be out in the community to make sure you're listening to opinion leaders' concerns.the ones who tell their neighbors what to buy. ." always the first to try everything from Franco-Polynesian fusion cooking to digital cameras. They're not the "early adopters. You should make sure you don't have the door shut when opinion leaders come to you with a complaint or question. The Message Of Influentials: The Age Of Autonomy And The Rise Of SelfReliance. advertising. . you should. the problems they are focused on. and their short-and long-term goals. They're the campaigners for open-space initiatives. They are. 5. 30 . They're not America's most affluent 10 percent or best-educated 10 percent. 4. and they wield a huge amount of influence within those communities. and whether or not they are familiar to you. these researchers have been on a quest for marketing's holy grail: that elusive but supremely powerful channel known as word of mouth. is the "mouth"--who says it. For decades. You should pay attention to what's happening in opinion leaders' lives. What the opinion leaders say and think about companies has more of an impact on what their customers are thinking and doing than companies realize. promotion. The Influential Personality. 6. the radio stations they listen to. they're very well known to the researchers at RoperASW. you should make sure you are reaching the decision makers who are influential in others' decisions. Specifically. You should know where the opinion leaders get their ideas--the kinds of publications they read. .Ed Keller and Jon Berry. Companies should be asking themselves if their products and services. however. which politicians to support. What they've learned is that even more important than the "word"--what is said. To succeed today. the issues that opinion leaders are reading up on. They're the Influentials . public relations. Who Are The Influentials? 2. . 3. environmental stance. SIX RULES FOR GETTING INTO THE CONVERSATION WHAT'S YOUR INFLUENTIAL STRATEGY?" If you've not asked yourself this question already. and the Web sites they go to. and nonprofit organizations need to have influential strategies just as they need marketing. They're church vestrymen and friends of the local public library. the programs they watch. and corporate practices are consonant with opinion leaders' expectations. The Influentials One American in ten tells the other nine how to vote. Business. They are The Influentials. Developing An Influential Strategy: Six Rules For Getting Into The Conversation. the 10 percent of Americans most engaged in CONTENTS 1. and what to buy. The Influence Spiral: How Influentials Get And Spread Ideas. their local communities . or Internet strategies. The Influential Vision: Seven Trends For The Future. you need to connect with the people who are at the center of the conversation. and where to vacation--are not necessarily the people you'd expect. where to eat.
"The Ketchum IRM program is a thoughtful and organized approach to help get influencers on your side. 'We as an industry are going through a big evolution. Where to Eat. what typically worked in the past does not necessarily work today. faxes and memos. relevant knowledge that can help simplify how they think and act." said Ed Keller. The proprietary program identifies and reaches that select group of people who. articles and stories question the value of simply using current mass-advertising and mass-marketing strategies while highlighting the growing importance of influencers. chief executive officer of RoperASW and co-author of The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote. Sept. Ketchum IRM embraces a proven seven-step process and a proprietary technology infrastructure.000 names." Directly reaching consumers. influentials play a crucial role in how people think and act. The global initiative features a customized Web-based portal to manage and measure relationships with these influencers. 15." said Rand. Global Technology Practice. bombarded by 10. for each company or organization. which means a different route must be taken to capture their hearts and minds. The typical consumer faces information overload.Ketchum. The secure portal database. 2003 ." said Paul M. "In a time when people drown in information. Add recent questioning of corporate credibility to this mix and it's easy to see why an outbreak of recent books. Rand. "Ketchum IRM becomes a marketer's new currency in strengthening relationships with its most powerful and vocal advocates. government and analysts to include others whose opinions and advice people trust highly.broad market perceptions and behaviors quickly and directly."the cream of the crop.000 to 30. e-mails. Chicago office Ketchum Public Relations NEW YORK. Partner. Director. "Today. a Ketchum partner and leader of the IRM development team.000 commercial messages daily. Researchers at RoperASW indicate that consumers and buyers increasingly look to this mix of key individuals or small groups possessing specific. The offering reflects Ketchum's extensive experience helping companies work more closely with the key individuals and small groups that can affect -positively or negatively -. capturing the growing importance of influencers in shaping buying decisions. captures key data on each influencer. today launched Ketchum Influencer Relationship ManagementSM (Ketchum IRM). Ketchum IRM extends far beyond traditional influencers such as media. overseen by a certified Ketchum team. a fragmented market has made it possible for buyers and decision makers to opt out of mass-market advertising. making it simple to manage the program's progress. and What to Buy. buyers and other key targets is getting tougher.000-3." Ketchum used to draw up lists of 2. but the IRM system focuses on 150200. mold the perceptions and behaviors of customers and decision makers. They serve to filter and validate information for people who want trusted counsel. plus an additional 200 or so personalized messages in the form of phone calls." said Paul Rand. 31 . director of Ketchum's global technology practice in Chicago and head of the IRM practice. Several Fortune 500 companies have piloted the program successfully to accelerate the effectiveness of their overall marketing campaigns.Paul Rand. and Managing Director.
professional and valuable when these principles are respected. we will always be dealing with educated people who detect when they are being deceived. to the brands for which we work. which can spread through networks in a way that is enjoyed. We will not only develop or send information or content to them. 32 . 4) We believe that whatever our target. Marketers need to offer content in the media and through one-to-one connections that the recipients themselves choose to propagate to those that they deem appropriate.vbma. develop best practice and dispel the myths surrounding viral and buzz marketing in order to help it become more widely accepted as a credible. swap case studies. They are well-informed in the area of marketing. appreciated and / or valued. Our members are viral and buzz marketing practitioners and academics who specialize in consumerfocused marketing. 2) Our goal is to foster genuine enthusiasm about brands and brand communications. we treat these people with care and respect. educate or inform them. Our audience-centric vision of connected marketing seeks to put the target networks at the center of marketing. untimely and (as a consequence) annoying marketing messages. We value their contributions. please click on www. peer-to-peer exchange and consumption.html 1) We strive to identify only those people who will be interested in a particular marketing message. provide it in a manner that encourages them to share it with others. validation and promotion of consumer-oriented marketing trends and techniques.vbma. These positions are unifying principles shared by all members of the VBMA. As partners. If you would like to apply to join and help drive the VBMA.VBMA Global (Viral + Buzz Marketing Association) marketing association viral+buzz VBMA Manifesto 1: Mission and Affiliation All members of the VBMA share the conviction that Viral Marketing. 3) We believe that network-enhanced word of mouth has a critical role to play in the future of integrated marketing communications. and that we work constantly on improving these marketing techniques: The Viral & Buzz Marketing Association (VBMA) is an international group for the development. We will therefore be providing a benefit to our audiences and their acquaintances and in so doing. thereby eliminating irrelevant. We agree that working in this field is considered acceptable. enabling them to function as partners and stakeholders in marketing communication activities.net All members of the VBMA share the conviction that Viral Marketing. deliver the message to them in a way that makes it an enjoyable or valuable experience. We aim to create international collaborations. key part of brands overall marketing activities. Buzz Marketing and Word-of-Mouth Marketing (and other related marketing approaches that harness network-enhanced word of mouth) are based on the principles outlined below. These people appreciate brands that find smart ways to entertain.net/mission. Buzz Marketing and Word-of-Mouth Marketing (and other related marketing approaches that harness network-enhanced word of mouth) are based on the principles outlined on www. but will also listen to their opinions. Companies or individuals who do not adhere to these principles are not considered to be carrying out viral/buzz/word-of-mouth marketing by the VBMA.
and when opinions are being shared • Listening and responding to supporters. effective standards. where. amplify. and tarnishes the corporate reputation.org. and ethical leadership.Andy Sernovitz. they can listen to consumers. detractors.it never attempts to fool them. Those are the qualities that bring WOMMA members together -. or dishonesty. and transparent communications. Attempting to fake word of mouth is unethical and creates a backlash. It's harnessing the voice of the customer for the good of the brand. WOMMA’s mission is to promote and improve word of mouth marketing by: Protecting consumers and the industry with strong ethical guidelines.it's learning how to make it work within a marketing objective. damages the brand. Setting standards to encourage its use. You can explore WOMMA at www. Ethical marketers reject all tactics related to manipulation. WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) What is Word of Mouth Marketing? Word of mouth is a pre-existing phenomenon that marketers are only now WOMMA is Word of Mouth Marketing. Word of mouth marketing empowers people to share their experiences. Thriving markets are built on best practices.womma. deception.and we hope that you will join us if you share these values. All word of mouth marketing techniques are based on the concepts of customer satisfaction. WOMMA is the official trade association for the word of mouth marketing industry. Andy Sernovitz its founding CEO. Promoting WOM as an effective marketing tool. Legitimate word of mouth marketing acknowledges consumers’ intelligence -. And it's acknowledging that the unsatisfied customer is equally powerful. The basic elements are: • Educating people about your products and services • Identifying people most likely to share their opinions • Providing tools that make it easier to share information • Studying how. and neutrals 33 . learning how to harness. WOMMA members are building a prosperous word of mouth (WOM) marketing profession. and they can make certain that influential individuals know about the good qualities of a product or service. and improve. Word of mouth can't be faked or invented. word of mouth can be encouraged and facilitated. they can make it easier for them to tell their friends. That said. two-way dialog. infiltration. Companies can work hard to make people happier. Word of mouth marketing isn't about creating word of mouth -.
and then follow the simple steps outlined on pages 11 through 14. Tell me again why I need WOMM. case studies. For do-it-yourselfers read Rosen’s and Silverman’s books or at least keep copies handy for questions. Contact him at andy@womma. Before considering a viral marketing program take a moment for introspection.e. so perhaps you should reread that section.org not only for it’s wealth of information but for the listings of resources among its membership. channel.com. If you’re ready to put WOM into action revisit www. First. graphics will largely determine the success of your venture … assuming you have something the market needs. or a virals program employing customer word of mouth. It’s not an overnight panacea for inadequate lead flow but it offers a powerful resource for adding credibility to your marketing messages … something that is sorely needed in a world that just doesn’t want to hear it anymore from traditional marketers. Inspired by Metcalfe’s law. copy. It’s critical that you understand network hubs. the product. It’s the secret weapon behind qualified leads. How great is the need? And Understanding network hubs Without a good set of names. enabled by the Internet. He knows everybody in the business. or OEM) as well. An effective WOM campaign will establish a foundation process where interested people market to each other. This leads to a choice of which is best – a corporate contact program to influentials. spurs to your sales Conclusion—Call to Action Now that we understand the concept behind word of mouth marketing and the various tools required for its implementation perhaps its time to consider putting it work for us.…to add wings to your marketing. hopefully to epidemic proportions? In ten words or less. is weakening the ability of companies to communicate with customers and strengthening the ability of customers to communicate with customers. of WOMMA for advice. CEO. how will the perception of your message be received. i.womma. researched through both primary and secondary research. which are influenced to a certain degree by marketing dollars available. what makes your product virusworthy? If you can't come up with an answer fix the product or reposition your marketing message. your market and your needs. Would a low key. 34 . is your product/service really innovative or just incrementally better? And lastly your needs. you have no place to begin. Study the presentations from the recent WOMMA Summit. slower moving influencer program do the job? Or do you want to gamble on a fast return viral effort? Many people do both because there is a similarity in the startup procedure relative to the development of a customer and/or influencer database. Next the market. Good luck! Creative is king when launching WOM! Messaging concepts. But remember to integrate that messaging within an entire communications support plan … which must embrace and include the sales force (whether direct. What is the buzz that your company wishes to spread. Ask Andy Sernovitz. and practitioner’s comments… where do we begin? You begin by making an assessment of your product. and can get excited about. Why the departure from tradition? Traditional marketing is just not effective anymore because the speed of information diffusion.
and believe 35 . TESTING & KEEPING BUZZ ALIVE • It’s hard to get it going. then buzz among key influentials in client community. • Seeding: ID websites. facilities visit. testimonials. samples. law of the few. • • III. group brainstorming. Issues to Be Resolved. (elements of 90 Day Blitz) • Promote seminars • Plan for trade shows • Build chat rooms Dependencies. as defined by Regis McKenna. Three: A CREATIVE REPOSITORY IS DEVELOPED TO SUPPORT THEME/IMAGE STANDARDS AND THE CREATIVE PLATFORM • • Craft messages for influencers. mail. While WOMM / Viral / Buzz are all the same thing there are nuances one should be aware of: • WOMM leverages social networks • Viral leverages digital networks • Buzz leverages media networks Be sure to explore each carefully before making a choice as they can be quite different in nature. and Launch Date. test. • Generate excitement. articles of interest. is the planning and use of established person-toperson relationships. EXECUTION COMPONENTS OF THE KBA MARCOM ENGINE One: ARSENAL WOM-Influentials Personalized correspondence. context Developing network hubs 7 Steps to an Influentials plan 7 Steps to a Virals plan • Tracking: monitor effect. Communications Strategies • Develop Strategy Statement short forms for both Influencer Relations and Viral Advertising • Key message / USP • Reasons to believe • Accelerated contagion / Blitz Influencer Relations Tactics • Segmentation of influencers • Influencer analysis • Benchmarking and metrics • Keeping in touch: personal and impersonal • Measurement & management Viral Marketing Tactics • Create “viral agent” and how to spread (text. Craft integrated ad messages and images across all components of interactive and traditional marketing efforts. webinars. awards. The differences: WOM-Influentials is long term and directed to known influentials within both social and media networks. Craft mega hub/PR messages. image. WOM-Viral is short term and directed to unknown user / prospect recipients after online seeding to a small known base. still harder to maintain • Focus. briefings. assess the return from cost of developing viral agent and seeding. is not as a standalone tactic but as an integrated part of a brand’s overall marketing strategy. Why choose word of mouth marketing? Because traditional advertising is seriously lacking in credibility! And because the ROI metrics are poorly defined. email support Two: DEPLOYMENT OF THE PROCESS Development of Time Lines and Scheduling • To seeding resources for virals • To network Hubs for influencers • Place ads. interest. etc. Brief Description. CEO summit meetings at HQ. lunch and dinners. broadcast fax. or video). people to send email to. WOM-Viral advertising 20 to 30 second viral. Target Audiences. info kits. a fieldbook to Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado. speeches to various market segment leaders. Craft seminar copy. etc. road trips. the guru of technology PR. telemarketing. direct response efforts. Summary: • • • • • • WOM choice rationale Influentials: The 90-10 Rule Virals: The 3 Rules: stickiness. Note also that this Communications Support Plan should be preceded by the Market Development Strategy Checklist from Paul Wiefels The Chasm Companion. incentives to participate. or a component • Partners and allies • Distribution • Pricing • Competition • Positioning Communications Focused Checklist • Segmentation of Network Hubs • External--one voice • Internal—shared vision Two: STRATEGY Communications audience—defined Reason to buy—the 5 whys Communications Objective • Create awareness. blogs. Three: TRACKING. Deliverables required for both influentials and viral recipients: • Prospect database • A noteworthy product/service • Powerful creative concepts I. email. white papers. then enthusiasm for sharing of an online viral presentation. whether Influential or Viral focused. Word of mouth marketing. Definitions. II. PLANNING COMPONENTS OF THE KBA MARCOM ENGINE One: AUDIT Marketing Focused Checklist • Target customer / influencer • Compelling reason to buy / influence • Whole product.A KBA COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT PLAN FOCUSED ON WOMM PREFACE: Keep in mind that the most successful use of WOMM. conferences. INTRODUCTION Program Name. email.
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