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August 27, 2006

Book Preview: Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz

WOMM.gif

My buddy Andy Sernovitz, the CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, is coming out with a new book called, duh, Word of Mouth Marketing.

I highly recommend this book because it was so practical, tactical, and hysterical. Here are the ten ideas, stories, and recommendations from the book that I liked the most:

  1. Companies could hire a customer service rep to cruise the Internet looking for kudos and complaints. When the rep finds kudos, he should thank the person. When the rep finds complaints, he should get it fixed. This is such a simple, effective idea—I doubt, therefore, that many companies will do it! :-)

  2. Commerce Bank has a free change-counting machine in its branches that anyone can use. This beats the hell out of the machines in markets that take 7%.

  3. A study by the Verde Group showed that people who heard about a bad shopping experience are less likely to go to the same store than the person who actually had the bad experience.

  4. The most powerful word-of-mouth advocates might be the customers who have only done business with you once so far. They are the most excited; repeat customers are probably accustomed to the great product/service and therefore, ironically, less likely to talk about it.

  5. The Prostate Net, a not-for-profit educational organization, contacted 50,000 barbers to talk to their clients about prostate cancer detection and prevention.

  6. Incentives and rewards are likely to reduce word-of-mouth advertising because motivation becomes suspect. You can’t “buy” word-of-mouth advertising.

  7. The Wynn Las Vegas resort gave free rooms to cabbies to generate word-of-mouth advertising via this very influential part of the transportation infrastructure.

  8. Henkel Consumer Adhesives, the manufacturer of Duck Tape, sponsors a contest for college scholarships called “Stuck at Prom.” Is this funny or what?

  9. A word-of-mouth campaign, brought back “Family Guy” from the dead (that is, cancellation). How many tv series have you heard of coming back from the dead?

  10. Zappos has a one-year, no questions asked return policy for shoes. This boggles my mind although I’ve never heard of any woman return anything to Zappos.

Someday I hope to read about your kick-butt ideas in a book like this. Until then, your word-of-mouth marketing efforts will surely get a boost if you read this book.


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Comments

Word of Mouth Marketing is Book of the Week at www.mysuccessgateway.com

I'll just quote Seth. "Things worth talking about will get talked about". But not without a little luck and something in it for the person doing the talking.

So the big question is this:
Who is the people talking to a lot of people during their everyday life? And why should they care about your product/service/story?

André Hedetoft
Movie-geek
Just created a game where you get to play with my real life over at http://www.andrehedetoft.com

I'm a bit confused over no.6 on the list, that incentivicing the "evangelists" will cause motivation to be seen as suspect.
I understand the point, but then again I remember watching your "art of the start"-speech or was it the panel discussion where the exact contrary point was made: That it is very important to care about those customers who do the favor of recommending your services.
One example is the MVP program that Microsoft has, and I'd guess that it works for them, since they're still continuing it.
I think I'd be inclined to incentivice although the risk is there.

It's pretty cool to see WOM stuff show up on your blog, Guy. Andy's a pretty cool guy. I'll definitely buy his book now.

I believe word-of-mouth really comes down to the concept of the advocating customer. Regardless, Feel free to read BoldMouth's study on word of mouth marketing. The study was conducted by Osterman Research and is titled Perceptions, Practices and Ethics in Word of Mouth Marketing. The study has been downloaded over 20,000 times since being released in mid-May earlier this year. Here's a link to the pdf:


http://www.boldmouth.com/studies/word_of_mouth_marketing_research_boldmouth.pdf


What do you think about the recommendations section?

Looking forward to your feedback.

Todd Tweedy
BoldMouth

Navy Federal Credit Union also has the coin counting machine, and also holds free monthly home-buying and personal finance seminars after normal business hours. :)

I wonder what types of products #4 applies to? When it comes to cars, my dad is definitely doing more than his share of word of mouth for Toyota. In any car related discussion, he can't stop praising the japanese car maker. We (or he's) bought FOUR Toyotas in a span of 5-7 years (to my dismay because I've been hoping to see the day I get to drive a European car). He isn't even replacing old cars -- he just keeps adding! I think he secretly wants to be on their 'Customer of the Decade' list / award if there ever was one.

Thanks for the post.

What I think is interesting is that many ideas where touched on in "The Tipping Point", the popular book that came out in the late ninety's. This was long before the kind of things we see now in the Web that are making these ideas so important.

How easy is it to spot a successful word of mouth campaign BEFORE it has succeeded. For example, although campaigns to bring back Star Trek, Moonlighting, Family Guy and (apparently) Futurama were successful. Other shows with vociferous fan bases stayed canned. I wonder if there is any way of spotting likely winners or if there are differences in approach that mean some campaigns succeed and others fail. I think a lot of business books fall into the 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' fallacy. In other words, a result occurred after an action so the action MUST have caused the result. Not always so.

*************

Still, this beats "after the season we got canceled." Sorry, I don't know enough Latin to translate this.

You and Bob Sutton would get along. I believe that if it required rigorous scientific proof to write a business book, there would be none.

Guy

Great post on a good book. I linked to it Guy. Good work.
Jim Forbes

I, a woman, have returned several pairs of shoes to Zappos--if I am unsure of a size for myself or my kids, I will get two pairs and keep the ones that fit. My husband has bought shoes from Zappos all by himself so it's not just us shoe-holics. The other thing I love about Zappos is the super-fast shipping. I work, I have young kids, I am NOT into going to the mall and wasting my time--and why bother when I can go to a web site at midnight, order some shoes and have them at my door in 2 days?

shuchetana makes a good point about #4, your existing customer testimonials can give good buzz to new people you are trying to attract to your business. Depending on your services, it's that tricky shift from those "Innovators/Early Adopters" to "Majority/Mainstream" people using your product. Innovator testimonials can help drive that business shift to help your business grow.

Um, I am a woman and I have returned shoes to Zappos. Why? As a mom, traipsing around to 12 stores with unhappy barefoot kids is not an option. And forget about ME trying on shoes! I simply spend a fortune and buy about 6 likely shoes, try them at home, and return all but one. It is such an amazing service; I can't recommend it enough!

"1. Companies could hire a customer service rep to *do* cruise the Internet"

Excess word.

Number 4 seems generally true in my business (software) as far as numbers go, although I will counter with the observation that our best "evangelists" are long-time customers, although there are fewer of them.

This looks like a good one, I've already put it on my Amazon wish list.

From what I remember Star Trek was the first show ever saved by a write-in campaign.

Number 4: new customers should always be focused on. Initially, the motive should be to change them from first-timers to repeat buyers, which is a very important transition in terms of backorders.
Number 6: rewards for word of mouth would ignite suspicion. However, unexpected freebies and exceptional service (changing tires, etc) definitely generate a lot of positive w-o-m.
The focus should be on creating delighted customers, not on creating positive buzz.

Guy,
Zappos doesn't only sell women's shoes. This post is way too clever to resolve in a trite "women & shopping, they can't help themselves" ending. Why the cheap shot?

**************
Jackie,

I hope this is the harshest criticism you can ever make about my blog!

Guy

"Moonlighting" was another show (Bruce Willis) that was brought back from cancelation after fans went crazy. ;)

"So, we try to build the error reporting system with enough information tracking that we can (hopefully) identify the email address of the person whose registration effort failed..."

Be careful with this strategy in an environment that is concerned about privacy. You might need to mention this in you privacy policy.

Not available until 11/1?! Looks like you plugged the book too soon.

#1 and #5 are particularly important for a web-only based business. Customer comments and being thought leaders help a new business thrive. Plus, it's better that you get your business's name out in a manner you want than someone else taking the reins. Offer your customers easy to digest information to help them make a smart decision that fits them.

"Companies could hire a customer service rep to do cruise the Internet looking for kudos and complaints. When the rep finds kudos, he should thank the person. When the rep finds complaints, he should get it fixed. This is such a simple, effective idea—I doubt, therefore, that many companies will do it! :-) "

Hi Guy,

I used to do something similar at PayPal (PayPaldamon). I think many companies are worried about two things:
1. The representative will make a public mistake that harms the company.
2. You would actually need a large team for a larger company.

It seems like a lot of places want to centralize activity, something that can't really be done with a decentralized place like the internet.

If only companies would do #1! Often they make it difficult to report a problem, much less get proactive in discovering them. This weekend I was shopping for a laptop. Trying to get information about the specs, I tried to chat with a sales associate. When I wouldn't give him my phone number right away, although it was specifically optional in the starting screen, he stopped responding and never even got to what my question was. I ended up spending about half an hour to call the company to reach a Supervisor because you can't get one through chat. I waited on hold multiple times, then reported the problem. I never did get an answer to my question and they lost a sale. Even though the laptop from that company fits my requirements best and has the best price, I won't buy from Gateway now because I don't trust them to follow up if there is an issue.

Great post. There's a pretty popular story about Nordstrom's Department Store. A older lady came in complaining about her tires making a lot of noise. The lady was a regular customer in the store so the salesman could see that the problem really bothered her. He said, "Give me the receipt for your tires and your keys and I'll have the problem solved." Sure enough, he fixed her tire problem. What's the point of the story? Nordstroms doesn't sell tires! They're a clothing store! It's a true story that shows that sometimes going out of your way to help a customer will bring so much good-will to your business.

To your point number 9, as I recall the third year of the original Star Trek series (way, way, back in the 60's) was salvaged by fans after the show was initially canceled. I don't recall the details; I'm sure there are those out there who do.

this post give me the itchies. need the cure to fix me up from bad.

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