E*Trade’s talking and singing baby campaign has resulted in tremendous buzz about the brand. This demonstrates another way to create word of mouth. The challenge with this approach is continuing to maintain the freshness and innovation over the long run. How well they treat their customers during these trying economic times will generate more organic word of mouth. Better to offer real help than hype when it comes to trying to influence word of mouth.
Archive for the ‘word of mouth’ Category
The leaders of the Big Three automakers received all kinds of negative press for flying individual personal jets to the bailout hearings in Washington DC. I’m sure if their marketing people had a say in the matter they may have done something different.
Imagine the positive word of mouth they might have created with a drive across America buzz campaign. They could have stretched the 8 hour drive over the course of several days using their most fuel efficient cars . They could have featured the men and women that work in dealerships and auto suppliers in each State along the way. They could have videotaped the trip and uploaded it to their websites, giving the public a sense of the very real people whose lives would be affected by allowing the Big Three to fail.
The marketing departments of the Detroit automakers may want to adopt a word of mouth marketing perspective especially as they begin to scale back some of their mass media programs, witness Buick ending its relationship with Tiger Woods, citing their economic situation. Word of mouth marketing cannot replace traditional marketing but it can be done more cost effectively and will be more credible.
Automobile marketers will have to find more cost effective ways to get the word out about their products and a word of mouth marketing perspective may be just what they need. All marketing should be designed to create positive word of mouth, and everyone would agree the Big Three sure need some positive buzz.
Public utilities know exactly who their customers are, where they are and how much they are using. Public utilities are in an ideal position to engage in the sort of one to one marketing that other service providers can only dream of.
Yet despite this unique relationship with their customers, many public utilities use one size fits all messaging in mass mediums to communicate about their various programs and initiatives. Having spent 19 years in the electric and gas utility business, I observed that the industry is very good at amassing, collecting and reporting data. Where it often falls short is in converting that data into insights.
A market savvy Chief Marketing Officer once told me, “If you don’t know who your customers are, use mass media advertising to reach them. If you know who your customers are, communicate with them directly”.
Utilities could better serve their customers by heeding such advice and shifting spending from wasteful mass media campaigns to direct communications with their customers. The lack of meaningful consumer insight is a primary reason utilities rely on one size fits all mass media campaigns. Careful analysis of existing data that results in the identification of discrete customer segments would enable utility companies to begin developing the right messages for the right customers at the right time.
By communicating directly with customers utilities would avoid the need to cut through the clutter of mass advertising to get their messages out about safety and conserving energy. Forward thinking utilities should seriously consider the increased utilization of Word Of Mouth Marketing tactics and techniques, such as leaning on webinars, email newsletters, and social media tools like Twitter and YouTube.
I came across a business inquiry on LinkedIn seeking to outsource “Personal Touch”. The requester wanted an outside company to send thank you letters to customers after they purchased a product because they don’t want to handle the follow ups internally.
This is a classic example of a transactional mindset about customers. In this day of instant communications via phone, email, blogs company websites, it’s amazing that companies feel they can’t handle building relationships with their customers. Folks, if the customer was important enough to you when they initially bought your product, then they should be important enough for someone in the company to follow-up.
Some companies allow their CEO’s to handle this function. Which company do you suppose would get more positive word of mouth, one whose CEO follows up a sale or one who follows up with a disinterested third party? You make the call.
So I go to Sears the other day to replace a part on a weed whacker. I approached what seemed to be a mildly disinterested cashier. You know the type, typical summer help, there to get through the day without any hassles. I show her the part and ask, “where can I find a replacement?”. I knew before asking that she had no idea what it was and sure enough, she replies,” I don’t know, what is it?” and proceeds to call for back up. This is when I decide to have a little fun. As the cashier and her supervisor return, I say “Didn’t they give you any training on where things are? You should ask them to train you so you could provide better service to your customers.” The response from her supervisor was priceless, she says” She’s just a cashier, she doesn’t need to be trained on stuff like that?” I am quite sure that Sears management would not publicly admit to such a policy. Yet the supervisor was equally as clueless about the part as the cashier, so obviously she couldn’t be much help in making her a better cashier. Luckily, there was a young man who knew everything, but then he wasn;t a cashier.
Well this was not a complete customer service disaster. I was pleased because of the story content this encounter provided and how it ended. As I was getting ready to pay for the replacement part, the cashier tells me that Craftsman has a lifetime waranty on replacement parts and that there would be no charge. Of course that made me happy and the cashier and Sears was somewhat redeemed in my eyes as a result.
Customer service across the board is disappointingly low, even though great customer service is a sustainable point of diiferentiation. While I believe that every employee in a company should be customer focused, employees on the front line especially need to be. A lot of word of mouth about companies is a result of experiences with front line employees.
Some years ago I worked in financial services. One of my colleagues was a woman,we’ll call her Betty B, whose job was competitive intelligence. At the time I thought, how cool is that, she’s kind of like a spy, going undercover to find out all the secrets about our competitors. Boy was I disappointed when I found out how she really got all of her “intelligence”. No covert operations, no disguises, no passing of envelopes in deserted parking lots. Instead, Betty would work the phones. You see over the years she developed a network of colleagues, all of whom had similar functions, who she would call and ask about a new product or service to get a sense of their experiences. These competitors would freely share information with each other. They would get together at conferences and seminars and share insights and experiences.
Corporate types tend to be risk averse. It’s highly unlikely that a middle manager in Corporate America is going to be the first to try any new product or service, recall the saying “nobody ever got fired for using IBM”. He’s going to call around and find out how others in his industry have fared. So yes, word of mouth works in B2B. In fact it has worked for years, it’s nothing new.
You can influence WOM in the B2B space by attending the conferences your clients go to. Get involved in the discussions, develop relationships and most of all listen. Submit articles to the trade publications your clients read and establish yourself as a trusted resource and get in the game of spreading the word.
A key requirement of successful word of mouth marketing campaigns is to identify advocates and evangelists. These are the centers of influence, people who are connected, respected and never neglected. If you’re a company that wants to implement a word of mouth marketing campaign in urban markets, specifically among the African American community, think B2C2 for influencers. Okay, so what is B2C2? I thought you’d never ask.
B2C2 are Barber Shops, Beauty Salons, Churches and Clubs. These are the best places to begin because it’s where many influential African Americans congregate, contemplate and celebrate.
The Prostate Net’s Barbershop Initiative demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach when they reached out to barber shops to raise awareness about prostate cancer among African American men.
Sharp Talk with Al Sharpton on TV One features this renowned civil rights activist holding court discussing issues of the day in a barber shop. The show illustrates the very type of interaction and discussion that takes place on many a Saturday all over the country.
Clubs are where companies can reach young urban professionals. There are many types of clubs that cater to this segment, not all of which are social clubs. Included in this category are the various professional associations and fraternities where key influentials come together.
The Church has been and continues to be an important institution in African American culture. Church pastors are some of the most influential figures in the African American community and church functions are also venues where people share ideas, thoughts and advice on a range of topics.
If you are a business or organization seeking to increase your presence and brand awareness within the African American community and you’re looking to do accomplish it through word of mouth marketing then be sure to think: B2C2