Archive for January, 2006

An amazing Word-of-Mouth disconnect

January 23, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  , , ,  |  No Comments

Just got back from the WOMMA WOMBAT (Word of Mouth Basic Training) conference. 450 people! It was great. More about it later. But I just had to post this:

I gave a presentation to a standing-room-only crowd. Very flattering. But I digress.

In the course of the presentation, I said, apropos of a recent post that if WOMwere everything, we’d all be using Macs. Think about it: the best word of mouth in the
whole universe, and about a 4% market share. I asked how many people
had Macs. About half of the people raised their hands. Then
I asked, “Of the Windows people, how many would like to switch
if it weren’t for the expense and trouble of switching?”
Virtually ALL said yes! Wow. What’s wrong with this

Apple has done a magnificent job of creating the reasons to switch, but failed to provide a simple, easy way to switch. It’s like England trying to get everyone to drive on the right side of the street, gradually. Can’t be done.

Some things can’t be done gradually, but MUST be done gradually or they are perceived as too painful. The switch from Windows to Mac is one of these for the average computer owner. Virtual PC is too slow and doesn’t work for many programs, such as my favorite, Dragon Dictate Naturally Speaking 8. So, even though I’ve switched, I have to maintain a Windows machine to write my books and articles.

Until now. If Apple will encourage developers to develop a simple operating system switcher (they exist now on the Windows platform) that will allow people to switch between Windows and OS X, people will be able to buy a Mac, install Windows and have a Windows machine just as if they bought a Dell. Then they could switch gradually, starting with the browser and mail client, which would get the Windows side of the machine off the internet. Now, they have a Windows machine that is unsusceptible to viruses, spyware, malware, etc. They can switch the other programs gradually and see much easier each application is on a Mac.

Apple probably won’t do this. But their customers will. And in the new, new marketing, the customer is in control. As long as Apple doesn’t sabotage the ability of its new Intel machines to operate Windows, we will see all of this pent up desire to switch cause a major shift.

Of course, there are a whole lot of other things that Apple needs to do (none of them that hard compared to what they have already done), in order to get a wholesale switch from Windows to Mac.

The lesson: Even when there is a major pent-up demand created by word of mouth, the mechanisms have to exist to switch to it easily.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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The Death-Knell of the Old Marketing

January 23, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments 1/23/2006: “Ford will close 14 manufacturing plants in North America and cut up to 30,000 jobs in the coming years to try to stem losses and adjust to a new, significantly lower market share. ‘If we build it, they’ll buy it. That’s business as usual and it’s wrong,’ said Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford . ‘Our product plans for too long have been defined by our capacity. That’s why we must reduce capacity in North America.'” Full story

Wow. The best statement of the old marketing in a sad event. “If we build it, they will buy it. That’s business as usual, and it’s wrong.” Sadly, the response is to close plants (which I have no doubt is necessary in the short run). But the response should be the announcement of cars that people will truly get excited about. Not the recent announcement that they will be building a whole lot of hybrids by 2010. That’s too late.

I’ve been saying since 1972 that Detroit is in big trouble. That was before Japanese cars were even a major player. That was when Detroit failed to respond to the first gas shortage.

NOTHING can withstand negative word of mouth for long. OK, it took decades, but it was a steady decline.

If you build it, they will buy, only if what you build is totally driven by what the consumer will rave about to their friends.

I take no pleasure in this triumph of word of mouth.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth isn’t everything in marketing

January 10, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  ,  |  No Comments

Some word-of-mouth marketers are acting as if word of mouth is the be-all and end-all. It is not. If it was, Apple would be the dominant computer; we’d all be using Tivos and Betamaxs, Leica cameras and many other revered products. Also if stunt marketing were really word-of-mouth marketing and Word-of-Mouth Marketing was totally effective , we’d all be eating KFC [as if subservient chicken was marketing at all] and Jib-Jab and would have gotten Bush defeated.

Stunt marketing is not word of mouth, and it isn’t even viral marketing. It’s just the old PR stunts. But now, we have the Internet to transmit it. Buzz is still just noise. Tongues wagging is just motion without traction.

So what, if anything, is the be-all and end-all?

Content rules. You still have to have a big idea, differentiate it in a meaningful and beneficial way and have a product that is extraordinary in a way that people will talk about. Then you analyze the decision process, find the blocks and encourage people to talk about the things that are holding people back.

People who don’t keep this in mind are going to get the wrong ideas about word of mouth from the upcoming WOMMA WOMBAT conference. They are going to get over-whelmed by techniques and lose the substance. I’m about to post some ideas for how to sort it all out. Stay tuned.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Technorati Tags:
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