The implications are enormous, on many levels. First of all, it shows that a desirable outcome can be encouraged by a very interesting kind of word of mouth: user, customer, consumer initiated contests or incentives.
Also, it shows that products will get modified, even if the customers don’t know how to do it themselves.
As I’ve written about before, and spoken about at the WOMMA Orlando conference, this is a very big step for Apple. Now that Windows can be run on the Mac, there is little reason for people not to switch to Macs, the clearly superior machine and operating system. They can now do so gradually, and have Windows for any custom programs (or games) they may have to run.
I hope Apple doesn’t fight this development. It’s the best thing that has happened to them since the return of Steve Jobs and the launch of the iPod & iTunes.
I will we awaiting further developments before switching. I’ll wait for some software to catch up to run natively on the MacIntel machines. Also, the Windows installation has to be simple and seamless, preferably without a re-boot. Most importantly, I have to make sure that Dragon Dictate Naturally Speaking will work on the WinMac. Since it makes calls to the chip, it is not obvious that it will work. I use Dragon to do my more lengthy writing of long articles and books. There is nothing remotely close on the Mac. Everything else is better on a Mac.
Told You So
I hate arrogant titles like this one, but I have been shouting about the coming implosion of Big Pharma for several years. Well, it’s here. Consider these three factoids from, again, Forbes: In the last 3 years big pharma have laid off 70,000 folks. Pfizer, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Schering Plough have lost $394 billion in market cap in the last 5 years. And, as biotech adds muscle, Amgen and Genentech are on a trajectory to pass Merck in sales by about 2009.
(More on ‘told you so.’ As the industry began to stagger, the defense mounted by most of the ‘premier’ players was … you guessed it … major mergers.)
Posted by Tom Peters | Comments?
The Tom Peters Weblog 3/9/06 12:00 PM”
(Via The Tom Peters Weblog.)
They would tell you that this is because of the pipeline drying up somewhat. It is really due to the companies spending more and more on marketing that works less and less. They need to do even more with physician-to-physician marketing. See my Open letter to Pharmaceutical CEOs.
Here’s part of what John Moore had to say about the Jack Trout Forbes.com article attacking word-of-mouth marketing. Read the whole thing, here.
Jack … it’s not about you. It’s not about how you, or any one marketer or one company for that matter, can control consumers with marketing missives. It is about how consumers can help marketers spread marketing messages.
In today’s multi-channel, multi-dimensional environment, marketers cannot begin to place marketing messages everywhere consumers are. The costs do so are way too prohibitive. WE NEED HELP. WE NEED TO ENLIST THE HELP OF CONSUMERS TO HELP US. The game has changed from when and where marketing messages are delivered to HOW and WHY marketing messages are delivered. Some companies get this (Apple, YouTube, Google, Scion, Skype) and some companies don’t (AT&T).
Trout has been touting the marketing concept of positioning for over three decades now. I’ve studied his writings on the topic and I’m a firm believer in this positioning concept. But I believe that if a marketer has properly designed a positioning strategy for a product/service, WOM will not only get people mentioning the product’s name … WOM will also get people mentioning why that product/service matters. Dig?
Ya know … when it comes to meaningful words on Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Trout is a fish out of water.
Right on, John.
Jack Trout attacks Word-of-Mouth Marketing
(Via WoM Watch)
In a dazzlingly out-of-touch article for forbes.com, Jack Trout has attacked word-of-mouth marketing. This probably means that word-of-mouth marketing is now a big enough threat to the establishment that it is worthy of attack. It’s rather sad to see such a venerable old-line marketer so out of touch. It’s also sad to think that a lot of old-line companies are going to listen to him.
I usually don’t get involved in public battles and I usually let silly assertions lie, I feel compelled to answer this one because Jack is deservedly well respected and is very influential. His remarks are likely to cause many marketers who are seeking sanctuary in the comfort of the past to rally around his assertions and make some big mistakes. As the person who is often called “The Father of Word-of-Mouth Marketing” and the author of what is widely viewed as the definitive book on WOMM and as a member of the Board of Advisors of WOMMA (not speaking in any official capacity here), I anticipate many inquires about what I think. So I might as well post it right away.
I’ll try to make my reply a reminder of WOM principles, rather than a polemic.
Read his articulate column here.
I’m reminded of the oft-quoted (I wish I knew who originated it) methods for attacking innovations.
Ignore it. Say it’s trivial. Say it’s not new. Say it’s what we’ve believed and practiced all along.
In bare-bones summary, he writes:
Things are out of hand. WOM is nothing new. The only thing new is digital communications with much more noise (he says that’s good news, for some reason). People don’t really want to “chatter” about products. WOM is sometimes negative, destroying the product. Wom can’t be controlled. It’s just another tool in your arsenal. You’re going to have to continue to use advertising because you can’t buy mouths. People stop talking about you once the next big thing comes along.
You can tell things are out of hand when there is an association and highly-attended conferences all over the world.I guess advertising is really out of hand with all of the conferences it has.
We have a new dictionary of terms to learn. From the guy who coined the most overused and misused term in marketing, positioning. (I didn’t say “unimportant,” just overused and misused.) Since when is making several important distinctions and giving them precisely defined terminology a bad thing?
He goes on to say: World-of-mouth isn’t new much less “the next big thing” that WOMMA declares. A third-party endorsement of your product has always been the Holy Grail. It’s more believable. In prior days, we used to try and find the “early adapters” for a product. We figured they had big mouths and loved to tell their friends and neighbors about their new widget.
(Actually, it’s early “Adopters,” not “Adapters.”) What he misses is a profound difference in the modern marketplace: you don’t find them (at great expense), they find you. Then you earn their trust and permission to talk with (not at) them. You don’t bring them to your products, you bring products to your customers. Also, “third-party endorsement” as the Holy Grail defeats his point. If it’s the Holy Grail, hasn’t he just made our point? Of course, it’s the Holy Grail. That’s what we’re saying!
He goes on to cite many products that got a lot of buzz: the Segway, King Kong, the Pontiac G6. “Unfortunately, the buzz was negative.” Here, he is supporting several principles of WOMM: It’s the most powerful force in the marketplace by far, no amount of conventional marketing will overcome negative WOM, you better pay attention to negative WOM and fix it, or your product will die. His message should be: Don’t engage in gratuitous hype because in this age of empowered customers, you will be found out fast and you won’t survive the negative WOM.
“Now for the really bad news,” he writes. “There’s no way to control that word-of-mouth. Do I want to give up control and let consumers take over my campaign? No way. They aren’t getting paid based on how many widgets get sold. If I go to all this trouble developing a positioning strategy for my product, I want to see that message delivered. Buzz can get your name mentioned but you can’t depend on much else. Not too many mouths will do a stand-up commercial about your product vs. its competitor. Nor will they check with you in advance on what to say.”
This is so colossally naive and out of touch that it’s difficult to know where to start. Of course there is no way to control WOM. That’s mostly what gives it it’s credibility and power. People know that their friends and trusted advisors aren’t going to lie to them, so they believe both the truth and relevance of that they are saying.
He doesn’t want to give up control and let consumers take over his campaign? Guess what? They already have. (See my Disturbing Memo to Marketers.)
He wants to see his message delivered. In this age of fragmented media, amid the noise he laments. Good luck. Buzz (as if that’s the essence of WOM marketing; it’s not) can get your name mentioned, but you can’t depend on much else. He’s right, if you have a mediocre product for average people.
People won’t do a stand-up commercial for you? Tell that to Apple, Sony, and the countless other products that have made it on WOM, who have evangelists coming out of everywhere. Of course you can count and count on these people.
This all brings me to my word-of-mouth on word-of-mouth marketing. It’s not the next big thing. It’s just another tool in your arsenal. If you have a way to get your strategy or point of difference talked about by your customers and prospects, that’s terrific. It will help, but you’re going to have to surround it with a lot of other effort, including, if you’ll pardon the expression, advertising. You just can’t buy mouths the way you can buy media. And mouths can stop talking about you in a heartbeat once something else comes along to talk about. I certainly would never tell a CEO, “B.J., I just put a big chunk of our budget into word-of-mouth.” If you did, all I would say is “good luck”.
The overall theme here is “Marketing Warfare.” (After all, he wrote the book Marketing Warfare). He wants command and control. His sees marketing through the lens of tools in an “arsenal.” (thanks, that’s one I’d missed. I’ll add it to my old-marketing-as-warfare slides.) He wants to buy mouths like he wants to buy eyeballs, and deploy them in a strategically positioned campaign.
He’s right about several things: WOM is not the next big thing. Neither is WOMM. Not if “thing” means tool in an arsenal. WOMM is a whole different orientation. Its growing, yes overriding, importance is a consequence of the Age of Overload, where people need to cut through the crap that advertisers produce because they don’t have time to listen to self-serving “positioning” statements.
That being said, conventional marketing is not — and never will be — dead. It DOES have to be part of a careful mix. But since WOM is thousands of times more powerful than conventional marketing and spreads for free at explosive speed, everything has to be organized around wom.
No, the next big thing is not WOM. It is Decision Simplification in the Age of Overload: Making it easy for the customer to find a solution to a problem (or desire or need), sort through the BS, try successfully and use your product pleasurably. WOM contributes to Decision Simplification more than anything else. That’s why it will continue to be — as it always has been — the most powerful force in the marketplace.
Jack, I also would say to your hypothetical CEO who is dissuaded by you from committing resources to WOM, “Good Luck.”
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Update: See John Moore’s very cogent comments here. P.S. The last line was very funny, John. You just couldn’t resist.
I’ve been following an interesting contest, but realized
that it has wider, Earth-shaking implications.
Here’s the contest, posted by a guy named Colin.
See if you can see its wider consequences:
“My new Apple MacBook is shipping …. I told
my boss that this would replace my IBM desktop and
I could boot Windows XP on it. I am still confident
it can be done. I am giving $100 of my own money
and offering anyone else who would like the instructions
on how to Dual boot these two operating systems the
ability to give some of their money into the pot
as a prize for the person / group that can make dual-booting
Mac OS X and Windows XP happen on an Intel Mac. Good
Luck, Colin” (Rules and other details follow) Boot
Windows XP on an Intel Duo Core Mac and Make Money
This is an example of a ‘solution contest.’ There
have been several very famous ones in the past:
- The Wright Brothers’ first flight was
actually part of a worldwide contest for powered
flight (there were 3 rules: powered, controlled,
landing the same altitude or higher). Everyone
knew it was about to happen, and about when it
was going to happen. It was a worldwide race.
- During WWII, there was an “inventions needed” list
of over 300 crucial things that we needed. Most
of them were invented.
- There was a Friday meeting at
the Manhattan Project. People would get up and say
what they needed. If anyone else knew how to do it,
or who was likely to be able to do it, they got up
and volunteered the information. If the solution
was outside the project, people were flown to find
the inventor and bring the “volunteer” back
to Los Alamos under military escort.
Do you see the new implications of the “Windows
on an Intel Mac” contest?
It’s a “Consumer Generated
Contest.” CGC (You
heard it here first — I’m looking for
a better name). Its implications can be HUGE. A customer
has stepped up and put up $100 into a PayPal account,
inviting others to join in and contribute. Within
a few weeks, it climbed to over $12,000, and got
worldwide coverage in the blogs and technology press.
Also, someone stands to make a lot of money from
marketing the solution itself. As I’ve written
before, it would cause sales of Macs to multiply.
But the point is: here’s a customer who has
no vested interest other than a desire for the product,
stepping up and starting a fund for something he
I think it’s only the first and that it will
start a major trend.
This got me wondering: what would you gladly contribute
$100 or more to encourage the invention of? Don’t
be too fast to say things like, “cure for Cancer,
Diabetes, etc., solution to Global Warming, alternative
to Oil, etc.” These BIG PROBLEMS would require
almost impossible-to-define rules, the incentives
are already up and running, a PayPal pot is unlikely
to increase the motivation of people already motivated
by a variety of incentives, throwing more money of
any kind is not likely to increase the probability
of a solution. Anyone solving these problems would
get the Nobel Prize, plus plenty of others.
CGCs are for a certain type of problem:
- Clearly definable
- Clearly “in the sights.” Something
we know is inevitable, imminent. We can taste it.
Our mouths are watering. We would pre-order it
right now on Amazon (a metaphor).
- Something where the additional incentive pot is likely to motivate people to invest their resources in developing a solution
- Something for which adding to the incentive
IN ADVANCE would be attractive to a large number
They may be hacks to existing products. I would
have paid in advance for a way to defeat Verizon’s
removal of Bluetooth Dial Up Networking to my Treo
(already developed), how to defeat the inability
to program the Prius’ navigation system while
the car is moving (already posted), and many
They may be accessories, new products, utilities,
Are there a lot of these? Is it worth building
a web site to encourage them?
Think about it:
What would you eagerly contribute $100
in advance to a PayPal pot to see developed?
Just to make it real, make it something that you
would actually put up the money for, right now, if
I set up the contest.
Word of Mouth is Nuclear Marketing, not Viral Marketing.
Word of mouth can spread at explosive rates,
not the usual “viral” rates that most
people think in terms of.
Yes, sometimes, the word spreads slowly at a very
small “infection” rate, spread by many
contacts, until it reaches a “tipping point” (see
the explanation in the endnotes of The Tipping
Point). This is the viral model, and it can
infect an entire population pretty fast. If every
person only infects one person, there is no growth.
But if one person infects an average of 1.01 persons,
the whole world will get infected pretty fast, as
long as there is a lot of contact.
That’s the model that most word-of-mouth marketers
are stuck on.
But it’s the wrong model most of the time.
When an idea spreads initially so slowly, it’s
usually because it’s not exciting, extraordinary,
unusual, remarkable — WOMworthy. People don’t
talk about such things very much. You don’t
get spread. The idea fizzles out.
The real model is not the geometric progression
that Gladwell talks about, but the explosive model
of the nuclear “chain reaction.”
You can’t begin to understand the explosive spread
of word of mouth until you get it. This may help.
As you follow along, first remember
the Power of WOM:
- You are exposed to thousands of
commercial messages a week and only act on one
- You are likely to act on about one in 3 recommendations
from friends, colleagues and trusted advisors.
WOM is hundreds to thousands of
times as powerful as conventional messages from
advertising and salespeople.
WOM spreads at a rate that is almost unimaginable,
but let’s try:
Let’s say that 25 people tell 25 other
people about a new product.
1. That’s ONE cycle of 625 people — that’s
the Neighborhood. Now,
everyone in the neighborhood tells 25 more people.
2: 15,625 — that’s
he average Town. My town
of Nanuet, NY is about that size. So now, the whole town knows.
They each email or call 25 other new people.
3. That’s 390,625 people,
the size of a medium-sized city like
Minneapolis or Oakland. Now the whole city knows.
(Also, that’s half of all the doctors in
the country. So, it only takes three cycles to
reach all of
the doctors who write substantial amounts of prescriptions!)
Now, the whole city emails their 25 friends in
4: Now we have 9,765,625, the
size of a Megalopolis like
New York. Now, everyone emails 25 more people.
5: That reaches 244,140,625 people, roughly the
adult population of the United States.
6: That’s 6,103,515,625, the
population of the entire WORLD
So, to market to all doctors, or to an entire city,
you only need three cycles
of 25 people telling 25 people! In the pharmaceutical
industry, all you would need is 25 clinical investigators
telling 25 super-specialists, telling 25 specialists
or generalists, and you’ve got it covered,
with multiple hits from trusted colleagues instead
of distrusted salespeople. That’s why I wrote
the letter to Pharmaceutical CEOs that’s getting sent
around and why that letter will make a major impact.
To reach everyone in the US, all you need is five
cycles. Actually, 3 or 4 cycles are all you really
need to reach everyone who is worth reaching, multiple
times. Realize that these aren’t the usual “hits” from
advertising. These are meaningful conversations among
trusted friends, who have no reason to lie to each
Now, I realize that in real life there are many
duplicates, creating the impression that “everyone
is talking about it,” — which they are —’ making
action even more likely.
So, rather than a mathematical table, think in terms
of the Silverman Six Easy Steps to Reach
25 X 25…
Neighborhood’ > Town > City > Megalopolis > Country > World.
For the mathematically inclined:
- 25 2 = 625 ——————– Neighborhood
- 253 = 15,625——————Small
town — Pearl River, NY
- 25 4 = 390,625—————Medium
City — Minneapolis
- 255 = 9,765,625————-Megalopolis
- 256 = 244,140,625———-US Population
- 257 = 6,103,515,625——- World
This is pretty astounding, and worth passing on: So, can I get 25 of you to pass this on to 25 people? 😉
Word-of-mouth marketing, Marketing, WOMM
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.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
CNN.com 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.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
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 Moveon.org 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.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing, Marketing
What are the standards for judging advertising? I say that advertising has one overriding standard: how much it increases the likelihood that someone will buy the product. In other words, advertising is first and foremost a selling medium, not an entertainment medium. Obviously, entertaining advertising tends to be watched and talked about. That’s why entertainment tends to creep in as a standard of advertising. Most of the time, professionals and amateurs judge advertising for its entertainment value. No. As an old ad said many years ago for an advertising agency, “it ain’t creative unless it sells.”
How does advertising sell? Advertising primarily sells by dramatizing the product’s most important, differentiating benefit. That’s what advertising does best, and better than any other medium. Think about it. All the great ads bring to life in a memorable, exciting, strikingly impressive, often larger-than-life way, the central benefit of the product — the thing the product will do for you that no other product will do as well. So, the advertisement or commercial leaves you with the impression of the product as being better in a way that will make you better in some way. Often, this dramatization is extremely creative and entertaining, but that is not the primary purpose. It is a fatal mistake to confuse creative dramatization of benefit with entertainment. Proper dramatization is almost always entertaining. But presenting the product in an entertaining way is not always beneficial to the sales of the product.
Almost all advertising awards and polls of popular commercials fall victim to this confusion, particularly around Super Bowl time.
I attended the U.S. Open tennis championship recently in Flushing Meadows, and have been also following it on television. There are some instructive marketing and advertising lessons and reminders.
First, let’s talk about the “product” itself, then turn to the advertising.
First, it’s not about the “product.” It’s all about the customer experience. It was a delight from beginning to end. I have been reading that there was a conscious effort to turn this into “Disneyland with nets.” Meaning, I suppose, turning it into an amazingly surprising customer experience. They succeeded. Clearly marked signs, ultra friendly policemen, friendly parking attendants. And that’s before we even got in. Then, hosts/hostesses in straw hats, comfortable seating, fun stuff on the Jumbotron, blue courts for visibility, allowing spectators to keep balls accidentally hit into stands, each winner hitting three autographed balls into the stands, specialty foods, etc. It seems that every single area, from the broadest picture of the stadium design and setting itself to the smallest detail has been looked at and rethought with customer delight and word of mouth in mind. So, it’s an excellent example of one of the secrets of word of mouth marketing: design your product for the “Wow!” that will get talked about.
Word of mouth marketing has even reached the sports stadium in the form of consciously creating a customer experience that will get people to talk. I keep meeting people who have just been to Flushing Meadow and can’t stop raving.
Let me ask you, What are you doing at the micro and macro level to create customer delight. Are you making them say “Cool,” “awesome,” “ holy s—t!”
Television coverage has also been wonderful. The camera people and announcers are just amazing. McEnroe in particular. He has a noticeable absence of many of his past unendearing attitudes. He and Tracy Austin seemed to be bending over backwards to emphasize the positive aspects of everything they are reporting upon.
The advertising, particularly the TV commercials, on the other hand, are terrible. They are so repetitive I could scream. I had to switch over to TiVo to take advantage of the lag time. The Andy’s Mojo press conference commercial for American Express is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, although it has been widely hailed by the advertising community as a big winner. Why is it so terrible? Read on.
They have nothing to do with the product, much less the benefits of the product, much less the dramatization of the most important benefit of the product. They are clearly designed to create buzz without creating word of mouth. Word of mouth is the recommendation of the product from customer to potential customer. Buzz is just getting people to talk. Why would anybody apply for an American Express card or use their existing card more as a result of this commercial? The commercial contributes nothing to the perceived benefits of the American Express card or American Express is a company, except perhaps to show the American Express is hip and with it.
The American Express Gold card “first date” commercial, on the other hand is excellent. It’s a telephone call from a man buying tickets for a first date from, apparently, an American Express ticket agent. The person makes several suggestions for events that the person could take his date to. It not only demonstrates an unusual degree of customer orientation and friendliness, but emphasizes the primary benefits of the Gold card, even listing them in text: great seats for great events, early on sale tickets, seats exclusively for you. In other words, if you get to Gold card, you have access to tickets that you would not otherwise have access to. In other words, if you get the American Express Gold card you will have advice and access to tickets you would not be able to get otherwise. The commercial could be improved by making it clear who the person is talking to and by making the benefits less jargonny and clearer. But the benefits are there. The contrast between the two American Express commercials could not be greater. The Roddick Mojo commercials are a pathetic attempt at alternative advertising without any understanding of how customers make decisions. The Gold card commercials are old-fashioned slice of life benefits commercials that do the job.
There will be a big run on US Open tickets next year. I suggest that you get an American Express Gold card so that you can get better tickets early! Now, why didn’t they have a commercial about that in the middle of the Open?
The lessons here are that the creation of buzz for its own sake is fruitless. Word-of-mouth without product benefits, as is the case with most viral and buzz marketing today, is fruitless. Advertising that does not emphasize product benefits and give people a reason to buy is fruitless. Getting clients to spend their money on fruitless “cool” stuff borders on the criminal.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing