Windows will now boot on a Mac

The contest for putting Windows on a Mac that I posted about here has been won. Details here.

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.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com wordofmouth.typepad.com

Told You So

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.

 

Brand Autopsy: George Knocks Trout Out of the Water

Brand Autopsy

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.

Technorati Tags:
Word-of-mouth marketing, , WOMMA, , WOMM

Jack Trout Attacks WOM marketing – We’ve made it!

Jack Trout attacks Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Is Word Of Mouth All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

(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.”

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com

Update: See John Moore’s very cogent comments here. P.S. The last line was very funny, John. You just couldn’t resist.

 

A new word-of-mouth phenomenon that could shake the world

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
wants.

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:

  • Middle-level
  • 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
    of people

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
others.

They may be accessories, new products, utilities,
etc.

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.

George Silverman
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and
Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth
Marketing

www.mnav.com””’ wordofmouth.typepad.com

Technorati Tags:
Word-of-mouth marketing, , , WOMM

How to reach the world, in six easy steps

March 1, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  , ,  |  No Comments

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
    or two.
  • You are likely to act on about one in 3 recommendations
    from friends, colleagues and trusted advisors.
  • Therefore,
    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
other cities.

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
other.

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
the World
:

25 X 25…

Neighborhood’ > Town > City > Megalopolis > Country > World.

For the mathematically inclined:

  1. 25 2 = 625 ——————– Neighborhood
  2. 253 = 15,625——————Small
    town — Pearl River, NY
  3. 25 4 = 390,625—————Medium
    City — Minneapolis
  4. 255 = 9,765,625————-Megalopolis
    — NYC
  5. 256 = 244,140,625———-US Population
  6. 257 = 6,103,515,625——- World
    Population

This is pretty astounding, and worth passing on: So, can I get 25 of you to pass this on to 25 people? 😉

George Silverman
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and
Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth
Marketing

www.mnav.com””’ wordofmouth.typepad.com

Technorati Tags:
Word-of-mouth marketing, , WOMM

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
picture?

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

www.mnav.com wordofmouth.typepad.com

Technorati Tags:
Word-of-mouth marketing, , WOMMA,

The Death-Knell of the Old Marketing

January 23, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

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.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com wordofmouth.typepad.com

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 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.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com wordofmouth.typepad.com

Technorati Tags:
Word-of-mouth marketing,

Standards of advertising vs. word-of-mouth marketing

September 17, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  , ,  |  No Comments

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.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com wordofmouth.typepad.com


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Interesting post from Tom Peters

September 6, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

Excerpt:

Last week GM announced August car sales were down a whopping 13% (industry sales were up 3.8%) … even as they continued their “free cars” employee discount. Ford’s biggest SUV sales plunged … 40%! And, oh yeah, Japanese car market share hit a new record, 39%. (Nissan … +15%. Toyota … +14%. Honda … +23%.) So what, exactly, is it/was it that Wagoner knew that you and I didn’t?

[Link no longer available]

In the meantime, Audi has insisted that I pay for every little ding and scratch on a 4-year-old Audi A6. And my Toyota dealer continues to be wonderful about the service on our twin Priuses. Except… they couldn’t change the channel in their waiting room from a very disturbing History channel documentary about the Holocaust that I couldn’t watch early in the morning before my coffee, because the “only person who can change channels, who has the key, hasn’t come in yet and won’t be here for an hour. How’s that for empowering employees?”

How to exceed your projections in half the time

Contrary to popular belief, the better the product is, the harder it usually is to sell. The best products tend to be the innovative, breakthrough products – and the marketplace rarely beats a path to their door.

Why? Because innovative, breakthrough, high-tech products make most people uncomfortable.

That’s why they are called discontinuous or disruptive innovations.

There are invariably problems with:

  • communicating the benefits,
  • getting people to believe the claims,
  • getting people to do things a new way,
  • satisfying the vested interests,
  • overcoming natural inertia,
  • overcoming people’s discomfort with initial trial,
  • supporting their initial learning curve,
  • helping them “sell” their colleagues, etc.

New products increase people’s uncertainty, make them uncomfortable and increase their feelings of insecurity.

That’s why marketers seriously overestimate market share and underestimate the time that it will take to get there.

One VERY successful Marketing VP once advised, “Give them a number and give them a date. But never, ever in the same document.”

Yet, it is possible to dramatically reduce the time it takes for new products to be adopted. This is especially true for technical, high-tech, innovative, breakthrough products, where the decisions tend to be more deliberative and less impulsive than many consumer packaged goods decisions.

(For verbal convenience, I’ll call these high-tech products, but I’m including here technical, medical, business-to-business, marketing automation, agricultural, chemical, financial and similar products and services.) The following product acceleration methods do not apply as well to consumer packaged goods, particularly those that involve personal taste and depend heavily on product image.

But if you’re selling “high-tech products,” I sincerely believe that the ideas that you are about to read can make the difference between failure and wild, run-away success.

The key to accelerating product adoption

You’re trying to get your product adopted in the marketplace, fast. Obviously, that means that you are trying to get people to evaluate, choose, try, buy, implement and use your product. This means that you are trying to influence their decision process. The decision process is central to product acceptance and product success, yet it is almost totally neglected.

When you reduce the time it takes for customers to decide on your product and make it significantly less than your competition, you will dominate your marketplace.

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WOMMA “Word of Mouth vs. Advertising” Conference

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September 2, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  Comments Off on WOMMA “Word of Mouth vs. Advertising” Conference

We would like to invite you to an important event: WOMMA’s “Word of Mouth vs. Advertising” Conference. It’s in NYC on September 28th. See below for full details.

We’ve arranged for a $50 discount as a courtesy to our associates – just enter this code: womadvisor

Market Navigation is a leading member of WOMMA, which is committed to building a prosperous word of mouth marketing industry based on best practices, measurable ROI, and ethical leadership.

You can learn more at http://www.womma.org/

Hope to see you there.

George Silverman, Pres. Market Navigation, Inc.

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com

The most important word in marketing is…

September 2, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

Very interesting question posed on this blog:

HELLO, my name is BLOG: The most important word in marketing is…:

My answer:

TRUTH

In Marketing, which has become synonymous with hype? Yes. The Truth, compellingly told, is most of what you need. You ‘rig’ the game by having a product that is WOMworthy, remarkable, outstanding, outrageous, unusual, chatworthy, or just plain good. Then you only have to tell the truth in an interesting way, usually a story. Then you tell the truth about yourself. That’s called Authenticity (See John Moore’s comment on same blog).

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

www.mnav.com

wordofmouth.typepad.com

WOMworthy Reporter — Jeanne Meserve

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August 30, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  Comments Off on WOMworthy Reporter — Jeanne Meserve

I think Jeanne Meserve of CNN should be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize or an Emmy. She is the most incisive, articulate and human reporter on any network reporting on hurricane Katrina, maybe anywhere. The impact of the hurricane aftermath didn’t hit me until I heard her emotional report Monday night.

She just barely held it together as she described how people were trapped with rapidly rising water in their attics or on their roofs. Her voice choked as she talked about how people were calling out in the darkness for someone to help them, with her and her crew unable to do anything, and as she described how her cameraman worked all day with a broken foot. She clearly painted a pained picture of people on roofs waiting in vain, in the dark, to be rescued.

This is one situation where the appropriate emotional dimension added accuracy. It made me realize that the standard of “dispassionate” reporting can sometimes cause distortion. If she had dispassionaty reported on what she saw, I never would have understood the significance.

This was an amazing example of how word of mouth from a trusted source telling a human story was so much more powerful, believable and accurate than the usual “objective” sources.

George Silverman

President

Market Navigation, Inc.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultants

www.mnav.com

Advertising Can Kill Word of Mouth!

Consider this:

1. You are exposed to thousands of ads and commercials a month and only act on a very small handful.
2. You are likely to act on about one in 3-5 recommendations from friends.
3. Therefore, WOM is hundreds to thousands of times as powerful as advertising.

OK, that’s the power. Now, how about the spread?

If 25 people tell 25 people 6 times, it’s the entire population of the world!
Once 25 x 25 = 625
Twice x 25 = 15.625
3x x 25 = 390,635
4x x 25 = 9,765,625
5x x 25 = 244,140,625 (order of magnitude of pop. of US!)
6x x 25 = 6,103,515,625 (population of the WORLD!)

Obviously, this assumes that no one tells someone who has already heard. 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, while WOM can spread at viral rates of 1.1 times, successful WOM campaigns are explosive. Gladwell and everyone else got the math wrong. It’s not viral marketing, it’s nuclear marketing. Advertising (at least print) has miniscule pass-along rates. Broadcast commercials have none. Successful WOM is not only explosive, but thousands of times more powerful.

So, why would you ever want to kill WOM? Yet, that’s precisely what saturation advertising and sales campaigns do. Past a certain point of creating initial awareness, if advertising and other traditional marketing efforts are perceived as saturation campaigns — as they are with virtually all new drugs, for instance — they kill WOM. Why, especially when we always thought that good advertising stimulates and complements WOM?

Because people tell other people about things they think they don’t know about. If you tell someone about something that they already know about, you look stupid. So, for instance, a doctor is not going to tell another doctor about a drug that he/she already knows about. In other words, people stop talking about things that are no longer news. Certainly something that is getting saturation exposure is not going to get talked about.

I’ve been designing WOM campaigns for more than 35 years, yet only understood this in the last few years. It’s always been very hard to get WOM going when my client is sending salespeople around, sampling heavily, giving out coupons and taking double page spreads in every magazine in sight. My smaller clients have always done much better, and I never knew why.

So, advertising is not only increasingly ineffective, it is destructive to sales, even if it is increasing sales, and everyone is thrilled. It may be the case that if less advertising were done, more and better WOM campaigns could do much better.

Saturation advertising has other negative consequences. These days, it causes people to wonder, “If their product is so good, why do they have to keep reminding me?” and “Why are they wasting so much money on advertising? Why can’t they put the money into improving their product?”

Jeff Bezos of Amazon has the right idea. He has always found (he’s actually tested) that money put into surprising people with free shipping and other service improvements has a much better return than advertising (which also has a return, but much less).

The ad people will say, “Oh yeah, prove it.” I can’t, yet. The data I have can’t be released. So, at the moment, my case has to rest on common sense and experience.

If the WOM community can develop and release data, it would be devastating. So far, we are making the case that WOM is more powerful, spreads faster, and is a lot cheaper. But if clients saw that they were potentially killing the Golden Goose, instead of hedging their bets by running parallel traditional campaigns, the whole world of marketing would open up. In fact, I think that today’s savvy consumer would realize that ads are for me-too, unremarkable products, and that no product that was worth talking about would be wasting their time and money on saturation ads.

Am I saying, “Avoid all advertising and other traditional promotion.”? No. Advertising should compliment WOM (WOM being the primary medium). Ads shoud give testimonials, stories and other WOMworthy content. Ads should stimulate customers to talk to other customers, reminding them how happy their friends will be after they get the kind of demo, for instance, that only a friend can give. So, the right kind of advertising can support the WOM and be subservient to it. No ad should ever be considered that doesn’t contribute to WOM.

Now, I’ve done it. I won’t even be able to walk down Madison Avenue.

George Silverman,
President, Market Navigation, Inc.
Author, “The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing.”
wordofmouth.typepad.com
www.mnav.com

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Ford plans “restructuring”

August 24, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

Ford plans restructuring: “Ford Motor Co. will soon announce a new restructuring plan to return its key North American vehicle operations to profitability, Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. said Tuesday.”

(Via CNN/Money.)

Watch what is announced closely and read between the lines. I predict that it will be a structural/management restructuring, not a marketing, product or customer relationship restructuring.

What has killed Detroit is word of mouth. The only thing that can save it is word-of-mouth marketing.

Not price cuts in the form of “employee discounts.” Pathetic.

In 1972, around the time of the oil crisis, I wrote a report to the Detroit car manufacturers saying that they were extremely vulnerable to competition if they were not much more responsive to the desires of consumers for reliable, safe and efficient cars. My focus groups showed that Detroit’s image was a disaster and people were furious, but were afraid to buy foreign cars, with the exception of the Volkswagen crowd. (Remember the “Think Small” campaign? Where, oh where, have all the great ads gone?) I said that there here was a gigantic opportunity for a company to build reliable cars that got good milage — and to show them in comparative crash tests. They thought I was crazy. (Volvo later stunned autoland with a highly successful crash test campaign.)

I couldn’t understand why auto makers couldn’t see how frustrated and angry people were, until I was driven to lunch by a top executive of GM. His top-of-the-line Buick Park Avenue drove like it was on a cloud. He proudly said that it was brand new, and that he got a new one every three months. He mentioned that ALL the executives got a new car on a similar schedule. I realized that no auto executive drove a car more than a few months old! They never knew what it was like to have a problem! In the meantime, my three-year-old Thunderbird was falling apart! I was charged $90 to get a brake light changed because they had to remove the whole back panel to get to the bulb! I’m not exaggerating.

I thought Detroit was vulnerable to competition from John Deere, Mac Truck or International Harvester if those companies chose to go into car manufacture.

A few years later, Chrysler was rescued from bankruptcy by the government, then bought by Daimler. Now, people are openly discussing whether GM and Ford can survive. But they are wrongly focusing on the cost of American labor, pensions and health care.

NO!! The problems are with the lack of a close relationship with customers that causes extraordinary products that cause positive word of mouth.

Obviously, I was wrong about domestic companies providing the competition. (I’d still like to see a John Deere car: it would be green, run forever but a little slowly.) Now, the situation has reversed: American cars have the well-deserved image of being unreliable, unsafe and gas-guzzlers. Word of mouth has almost totally destroyed the American manufacturers.

Detroit is not going to be saved by lowering wages, restructuring the pension funds, reducing health insurance or getting rid of unions. It’s not going to survive by more robotics. (They actually need less robots among their executives!) Just like the airlines, they need a different way of doing business.

There are successful auto makers. There are successful airlines. Two industries that are beset by terrible problems. Their few winners all have one thing in common: customers who rave about them to their friends.

Let me tell you two quick stories to illustrate: A friend just bought a $62,000 Cadillac, after a succession of Lexi (Google says that’s the plural of Lexus) and Mercedeses. He hates the Caddy. It has a whole lot of little things wrong with it. When the electric mirror stared working jerkily, he asked the dealer to fix it. The dealer replaced it. It was a $600 repair that my friend was not charged for. It happened again. That this happened again is not the point. The dealer said something that my friend found appalling, “Listen, I can’t keep replacing these mirrors.” My friend said that he only wanted it fixed, not replaced. The dealer had him come back at a time when he could call a special dealer number and be guided through the repair. It broke again in a few days. Now my friend has a constant reminder of poor quality in a $62,000 car every time he adjusts the mirror.

On the other hand, I bought a Prius hybrid, after getting rid of my Audi A6. (See previous post). I didn’t expect to like it that much, but found my wife’s Prius surprisingly roomy, agile and peppy. More about the Prius in a future post, but the point here is a remark from my dealer’s repair manager. I asked him about the wait for maintenance. He said that routine maintenance could be done while I waited, but that he might have to take a little longer with any actual repairs, because he never sees Priuses!!! (Boy, the plurals of cars are really a problem.) I asked my local private mechanic wiz, who specializes in foreign cars. He said that he’s not that good with TOYOTAS across the brand, because he doesn’t see that many because they are so reliable. All my friends say the same thing about their Toyotas and Lexi. “It ran forever.” “Never had to get a major repair.”

By the way, I’m paying $1.30 a gallon for gasoline at the moment when almost everyone else is paying $2.60. How? I’m getting more than twice the milage (45 miles a gallon) with the Prius hybrid than I got with the Audi, and it’s more fun to drive (less acceleration but actually better handling) Everybody’s upset at the gas station. I’m smirking. Na nana na na.


The lesson here is that word-of-mouth marketing — indeed survival itself — starts with the product delighting, surprising, astonishing, wowing the customer.

THAT’S how Ford and GM need to restructure.



George Silverman

President

Market Navigation, Inc.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Consultants

www.mnav.com

Brand = Reputation. Reputation = Brand

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August 23, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  Comments Off on Brand = Reputation. Reputation = Brand

p>Great Post by that name from Brand Blogger. Raises the question “But what is reputation?”

Glad you asked. Reputation is an expectation, particularly of performance. That’s why brand, or reputation, plays such a large role in decision making. When you see a brand, you think you know what to expect. This saves you a lot of time.

Reputation (Brand) is mostly spread by word of mouth. As I point out in my book, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, a large part of word-of-mouth marketing can be thought of as reputation management. Building a reputation is building a brand, and word of mouth is the key. Who are you going to believe about what to expect about the performance of a product, an ad or your friend, wife, mother, advisor?

I’ve been finding myself gradually moving over to Apple programs, largely because the brand is building quite a reputation with me and with other users. I keep finding things that their programs do that other programs don’t do: great power with simplicity. To be the subject of another post. But suffice it to say here that I just switched almost with blind trust from Entourage (Microsoft’s Outlook for the Mac) to Apple’s Mail, Address Book and Calendar programs, knowing they wouldn’t have the clumsiness that was so annoying with Entourage. I wasn’t disappointed. Simple, elegant, yet much more powerful. Easy to archive. Just also switched from Firefox to Safari to take advantage of its use of Services that Firefox lacked. Again, the brand was enhanced.

I know what to expect with some products (positive and negative). That’s why I’m willing to pay more for certain BRANDS: The Brand or Name has come to represent the expectation of superior performance.

I’ll gladly pay more for Toyota/Lexus, Apple, Nikon, Palm Treo, Go-Daddy, and Monteblanc

Others, like Audi, Microsoft, Earthlink, Verizon and many other brands that I used to love, I now expect inferior performance and service from and wouldn’t even use them at a deep discount.

Others, like Adobe and Continental Airlines, have annoyed me in the past with poor service and/or poor useability, but have turned around dramatically, greatly improving their product interfaces and have done some wonderful services favors for me lately. I find that they literally look different to me, and I go out of my way to use them. (It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the Continental brand, now that an accountant has taken over as CEO. Prospects don’t look good, judging from the downsizing of their First Class cabins on many planes.)

>>> the brand builder blog: Brand = Reputation. Reputation = Brand.

Customer service horror stories

August 19, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

An amazing example of negative WOM. This story has spread across the whole blogoshere and the mainstream press.

Customer service horror stories in this Chicago Tribune article.

(Via This Is Broken.)

Open letter to Audi — Why I can’t recommend Audi anymore

August 19, 2005 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

After many years of both my wife and I owning Audi A6’s, I regret to say that I advise against buying Audi’s. The story provides many lessons in how to turn positive word of mouth into negative wom.

I used to love the Audi A6. I’ve owned several over the years.  However, the last two have had a series of repairs that I won’t bore you with. My wife’s last Audi finally died when water seeped into the electrical system because a dranage hole under the battery became clogged (inspecting it is not part of the standard maintenence), causing a short circuit. The entire electrical system was destroyed. The repair would have cost $11,000, but the insurance company chose to total the car.

On my car, the twin turbos both burned out, causing a repair that would have cost $9-11,000 if it were not covered by the lease.

However, the real reason that I can’t recommend the Audi is their attitude toward my return of my last car after the lease was up. They had always taken back my cars after the lease had expired without charging me for the normal wear and tear: a few dings and scratches that a three-year-old car typically has. This time, the wear and tear was the same, but the attitude was different. Since I didn’t agree to lease another car, they apparently decided to stick it to me. They decided to charge me for every ding, scratch and every other cosmetic deficiency on this three and one half year old car. In all fairness, where was a crack in the windshield that I expected to pay for (but not $600). They have refused to reach any kind of accommodation, thereby turning a staunch advocate into a bitterly disappointed ex customer. I actually intended to buy another Audi eventually. Now, I’ll do everything I can to discourage people from dealing with a company who wants to grab a few bucks short term and is obviously not interested in the long-term satisfaction of their customers.

I’m now about to try once again to negotiate with Audi to reach a fair accommodation. I’ll update this post to let you know what happens.