One of my favorite blogs to read is Duct Tape Marketing – they have a great small business blog that has some really great articles. One that I’d like to call out features renowned marketer Seth Godin. I’ve read many of his books, including Purple Cow, Tribes, etc and now he has 10 reasons why he believes that word of mouth simply isn’t making a difference in marketing. Let’s explore the 10 reasons here:
It’s embarrassing to talk about. That’s why VD screening, no matter how well done, rarely turns into a viral [ahem] success.
Is your product embarrassing to talk about? If it involves a subject that can be pretty sensitive for most people to freely talk about, then you need to understand that word of mouth simply won’t work for you. But if you’re selling the next mobile phone, then yes, WOM will work, but like Godin suggests, things like VD screenings won’t fly through the grapevine causing people to become interested…it’s just not that kosher to talk about openly.
There’s no easy way to bring it up. This is similar to number 1, but involves opportunity. It’s easy to bring up, “hey, where’d you get that ring tone?” because the ring tone just interrupted everyone. It’s a lot harder to bring up the fact that you just got a massage.
Like Godin says, there’s never the right opportunity to talk about something and have it spread via WOM. There’s a time and place and when you’re doing marketing or product management, you need to be aware of these things.
It might not feel cutting edge enough for your crowd. So, it’s not the thing that’s embarrassing, it’s the fact that you just found out about it. Don’t bring up your brand new Tivo with your friends from MIT. They’ll sneer at you.
Keep up with the trends and understand your audience. If you’re trying to sell sneakers to your audience and want WOM programs, make sure that they know that it’s something more than just another sneaker – it’s not a new invention. Don’t expect all the products to have the right surprised reaction – it just won’t happen.
Sometimes bloggers hesitate to post on a popular source or topic because they worry they’ll seem lazy.
Look at the bloggers and give them a good enough reason to write about it. Help them understand and be motivated to write about your product.
You might like the exclusivity. If you have no trouble getting into a great restaurant or a wonderful club, perhaps you won’t tell the masses because you’re selfish…
Do you want your product to be spread by WOM? Who is your target audience…do they want to have that exclusivity? Look at whether you have a luxury item or something that the everyman can own…is there a difference or a distinguishing feature that separates the two?
You might want to keep worlds from colliding. Some kids, for example, like the idea of being the only kid from their school at the summer camp they go to. They get to have two personalities, be two people, keep things separate.
Understand that there are some people out there that separate their work lives from their personal lives along with many other divisions. Is it possible to reach the right person while being aware of potential internal conflicts? I like to separate family from professional contacts and from other college friends, but I wouldn’t necessarily pitch my family on a product that I know my friends would be interested in. Even if my family is the right target, I may not want to be a part of your WOM campaign because I don’t like pitching family. Professional contacts, maybe, but probably not family. Just something to be aware about.
You might feel manipulated. Plenty of hip kids were happy to talk about Converse, but once big, bad Nike got involved, it felt different. Almost like they were being used.
Reassure your audience that it’s not about manipulation. In the end, everyone should realize that your goal, as a company, is to garner more awareness and gain the attention of influencers who will continue to spread news about your product, thereby driving traffic to your site and product.
You might worry about your taste. Recommending a wine really strongly takes guts, because maybe, just maybe, your friends will hate the wine and think you tasteless.
We might not take part in a WOM campaign because we have a lot of self-doubt. Like will this particular blog post become viral? I’m thinking maybe not because I doubt that my blogging standards are meeting the expectations of the reader…if it was, then there’s greater promise that it will be spread virally.
Understand that people talk about you (or not talk about you) because of how it makes them feel, not how it makes you feel.
It’s always about your customers and clients…never about you.
Godin leaves a parting thought on how you can change the game and I think it’s very spot on: What will change the game is actually changing the game. Changing the experience of talking about you so fundamentally that people will choose to do it.
This means that you can’t just simply send out messages and press releases that you want people to pay attention to. Understand the factors why someone will make your product become viral. It’s like how something can be a viral video on YouTube – you can’t force it, but make a good enough video that draws the audience in, and there’s a greater chance of that. Understand your audience and give them reasons why your content and product is interesting – then your message might be spread.
Source: Duct Tape Marketing