I’m in the final stretch of the 2nd Edition of Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. I’ll be publishing drafts of sections and chapters here. The final is due on July 31. Those of you who would like a preview can find it as it appears here — just subscribe to this blog via newsletter or newsreader.
This is very difficult for me to do. I’ve been taught all my life to polish, then publish. Part of me is screaming that I have to polish for the next two months, get it as good as I can, then submit it, let the editors improve it, approve the edits, then wait until the Fall when the final masterpiece comes out, neatly bound and beautifully designed. That’s what I did the first time. My publisher, AMACOM, wouldn’t let me publish on a web site any significant parts of the book before, during or after publication. It was understandable then, before the Word-of-Mouth Revolution, before the soft coup that put the customer in charge. Really in charge, in ways outlined in the book. Who knew, then, that giving away free PDF files of a book would increase sales? OK, Seth Godin did, but no one else believed that it could happen again. And again. And again
So, when AMACOM wanted a 2nd Edition, I asked my agent, Wendy Keller to set up a meeting with Hank Kennedy, President of AMACOM, and my editor, Ellen Kadin. I told Wendy that I wasn’t interested in revising the book unless I could market it using Word-of-Mouth Marketing, not just the traditional marketing I was understandably forced into with first book, having no leverage as a first-time author. I’d rather change it completely and self-publish. Wendy was highly skeptical about our chances of getting a traditional publisher to give permission to do it the way I proposed. I had my doubts, but had nothing to lose, since in this case I was the customer and the customer is in charge. I now had alternatives. Anyway, I prepared my case and we assembled in Hank’s office.
I wish I had a recording of that most extraordinary meeting. To the best of my recollection, here’s what happened:
I got about 30 seconds into my pitch when Hank interrupted. He said, “OK, when can we have it?”
Taken aback, I blurted out, “Is that a ‘Yes’?” He nodded. Even more dumbfounded, I said, “You mean you’re not even going to give me a fight? You’re going to deprive me of the pleasure of at least an intense discussion?”
I don’t remember his exact words, but he pointed out that he wasn’t exactly living in a cave, unaware of what is going on in publishing, media and the rest of the world. He pointed out the obvious, that he was president of a major publisher of business books, books that he actually reads and is proud of. He knew that the world had changed. That it was obvious him that what I was proposing was the ONLY way to bring this book out and that it would be hypocritical to do it any other way. I was so amazed that I don’t remember anything else that happened.
I didn’t put as much up on the web site as I had hoped. It was easier to write privately than to expose first drafts to criticism. While I kept telling clients to “put it out there,” I was still reluctant to do it myself. I came to realize how my clients feel when they don’t even want to get together informal groups of customers to serve as an advisory group. It’s really scary to invite criticism. Our creations are precious little children that we want to protect from the harsh realities of the outside world. But they are also works in progress that are shaped and improved by the outside world much more often than they are trampled. I think I’m over it. I think that somewhere between the people who tweet every passing thought that occurs to them in the shower and waiting until things are “perfect” lies a vast middle ground that we can all be happy with, or at least tolerate, and maybe even come to love. I’m still uncomfortable. Old habits die hard.
There is a lot in life that is simple but not easy.
Welcome to the New Marketing.
The next post will have the actual table of contents.
Implied WOM — Here’s a case where it’s more important than explicit WOM
The Olympic swimming competition is providing a great example of what I call “Implied Word of Mouth.”
The current flurry of Olympic gold medals and world records in swimming is being attributed in large part to the new Speedo LZR swimsuits.
— 38 world records have been broken since its introduction in February until June, before the Olympic qualifiers and Olympics, not counting all the Olympic trial and Olympic records.
In fact, as of this writing, here’s some information that Speedo has on its website:
They have an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps. That’s an obvious use of paid word of mouth.
More importantly — and often neglected by people who are thinking about word of mouth — is the implied endorsement by all of the swimmers, many of them previously non-contenders, as they win medals and smash world records.
Adding to the situation is the controversy around whether the suits constitute “technological doping.” Swimmers and Speedo are being accused of using technology — rather than athletic ability and training — to give athletes an artificial edge, much like using performance-enhancing drugs.
It is just about the ideal word of mouth situation:
- A wildly superior, unusual product.
- Easy to talk about the product as a whole.
- A technology story that is easy to describe, thereby giving a “reason to believe.”
- An overall story that is easy to tell, even in headline form. (“New Kind of Swimsuit Shatters World Records” Better for the Company: “New Kind of Swimsuit Makes Even Mediocre Swimmers Win Races.”
- Celebrity endorsements. Some paid, others spontaneous.
- Implied endorsements by everyone who is seen on the Olympics wearing one, especially medalists and world-record breakers. [Note: This is the original meaning of “viral marketing”: a product whose very use is an implied recommendation by those who use it. It was originally used for HotMail, which had at the bottom something like: “Sent by HotMail. Want a free email account? Go to Hotmail.com”)]
- Controversy, generating buzz, that reflects well on them. After all, if the suits were not effective, there would be no accusations of unfairness.
- An amazing website (Speedousa.com). It is simple, uncluttered, fun, and allows you to find anything you want on a very information-packed website with only an obvious click or two. Their explanations are simple, yet informative. There are a few problems: they have a fun “Virtual Model” section in which you can construct someone who looks like you, and then try on various kinds of swimwear (when did “bathing suits” become “swimwear”?). Unfortunately, all of the avatars are under 30. More importantly, they have so many fabrics and lines that they need a comparison chart or a decision tool where you can enter info, such as whether you are a competitive swimmer, where you will use the swimwear, etc. and it makes recommendations. Like many of the sites that help you pick a camera or a television set.
- A product that is not yet available to the public, but will be soon, thereby building desire for something you can’t have. By the way, a full swimsuit will cost around $550, with leggings costing just $350, and trunks just $290. But don’t worry, they have models that are almost as good, especially for the non-competitive swimmer. By the time you check out other models, their $100 and $50 swim trunks begin to look cheap.
- There are dozens of other little and large issues around their product lines, website, attitudes, innovative spirit, etc. that make this a marketing situation well worth studying. I’ve barely begun to look into this company, and already I’m bowled over.
Note to any companies that are tempted to say, “Yes, but we are not Speedo,” or, “Yes, but we have a mundane product,” let me respectfully remind you of several things: First of all, stop saying “Yes, but…” Then, remember that they were a swim trunk manufacturer. There is nothing more mundane than that. Then, they were the first to use Lycra® in swimwear in 1972. Then, a series of innovations in all areas of sportswear followed that. To get WOM, you have to be EXTRA-ordinary.
The REALLY important lesson here:
Okay, here is your reward for reading this far: All of the above is an example of a much more important and broader concept: Decision Simplification. Speedo has made the brand choice decision into that Holy Grail of marketing: a no-brainer. If you want to buy a swimsuit and want the very best, the decision is now simple — a decision so simple that no time or effort has to be spent on it by busy people (everybody!). If you are an affluent and aspirational buyer of sportswear, what are you going to buy yourself or your kids? Simple. The suit that Michael Phelps and every other medalist and world record holder wears.
Many people have gone from only a dim awareness of the brand to the belief that Speedo makes the best swimwear. When they go to their website, they find out that they make a broad line of sportswear and accessories.
It doesn’t make a bit of difference if Speedo doesn’t make any money on the new swimsuits. They have, after all, put a huge amount of R&D into its development. They have now out-Niked Nike, the masters of the actual and implied endorsement. They have demonstrated in the most rigorous environment that their particular clothes actually enhance performance. I’m not aware that anyone else has done that, at least so convincingly and so publicly.
This particular formula for Decision Simplicity is simple to understand, but hard to do: Make a smashingly superior, astonishing product and get everybody to use it visibly because of the edge that it gives them. They don’t actually have to say a word about it, although they will. Of course, you might have to put in some R&D that will make the bean counters go crazy.
What this means to you
If you can make a product that actually enhances the performance of something your customers do (why make it if it doesn’t?), you are making your customers into a personal champion and making them feel better about themselves. They will brag about it. They will wear your logo.
Also, get the leaders in your customers’ line of work to visibly use it. Get them involved in its development, get their continual feedback, stir up the good kind of controversy and competition, make it something whose name and logo they are proud to display. It’s worked for Speedo, Nike, Canon, Nikon, Leica, Apple and many, many other brands that you’ve never heard of because they are in obscure and technical areas. But, I could name plenty of other brands in windsurfing, magic, photography, surgery and medical devices. There is room in your area, even if you’re getting clobbered by a Nike at the moment.
Here’s another idea: Maybe you should run an “Olympics” in your category. For instance, if I made voice dictation software and it was the fastest on the market, I would run a contest for the fastest “typist” (sounds better than “dictator”) in the world. They could type or use voice dictation. Since the fastest typist in the world types about 160 words per minute, and I can easily hit that with my present voice dictation system, the champion would be widely acknowledged to be the fastest in the world, using my software. My guess is it would be over 200 words a minute, using my software. This would be a real contest that actually demonstrates the superiority of my product dramatically, instead of the stupid, artificial contests that are usually run.
How can you take advantage of implied word of mouth?
Technorati Tags: Customer Decision Experience, Marketing, Decision Simplification, WOMM, Womworthy products, word of mouth marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing
Technorati Tags: Customer Decision Experience, Decision Simplification, Marketing, WOMM, Womworthy products, word of mouth marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing
Technorati Tags: Customer Decision Experience, Decision Simplification, Marketing, WOMM, Womworthy products, word of mouth marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing
Here is an old joke, that I’m not telling for the humor. I’m telling it to make a point.
An elderly man goes into confession and says to the priest, “Father, I’m 80 years old, married, have four kids and 11 grandchildren, and last night I had an affair. I made love to two 21 year old girls. Both of them. Twice.”
The priest said: “Well, my son, when was the last time you were in confession?”
“Never Father, I’m Jewish.”
“So then, why are you telling me?”
“Are you kidding? I’m telling everybody!”
When you understand what is driving that man, you will understand more about marketing than you can possibly learn in all the marketing books put together. More about this in future blog posts, but there is breaking news that I want to “tell everybody!.”
On Tuesday, at MacWorld, a product was officially announced that I have been beta testing. This releases me to talk about some details that have been publicly revealed, although I still can’t talk about many of the other details.
MacSpeech has announced a completely new voice dictation product for the Mac. One that is so accurate that it can be used by professional writers.
For those of you who don’t know what voice dictation is, or who don’t yet appreciate its significance, let me explain. Simply, you talk and your words magically appear on the screen, like in a science fiction movie.
I have been beta testing this new product for the last three weeks. While I have been publicly critical of MacSpeech’s previous product, iListen, this product, MacSpeech Dictate, just blows me away. It has sensational accuracy with only 5 minutes of training. That means that you can dictate into any program on the Mac and have your words appear.
Now I’m a pretty fast Dvorak typist, around 120 wpm.
But, when I’m writing books, articles and speeches, that’s not fast enough, and my arms and hands get tired, even with the 1/16th lower finger movement that Dvorak typing requires (look it up). So I have written my last two books in Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is a Windows program. At this point, with continual training and corrections, I’ve gotten it beyond 99.7% accuracy. But, I had to maintain a separate Windows machine to do it, which was a great inconvenience, and ruled out voice dictation when I traveled, when I do a lot of my writing.
Ever since it’s been possible, I’ve been running Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my Mac. I has been an acceptable solution, even though it takes considerable memory resources, disk space, and central processing power. It also requires me to run Windows, putting me at considerable risk, even though I have a firewall, anti-spyware software, antivirus software, etc. Windows also requires constant maintenance, and is unstable, so it can’t stay up for days and weeks on end like my Mac. I consider Windows to be an almost criminally unsafe product. Also, I have to continually transfer my dictation into whatever program I’m using, such as my word processor and my e-mail.
None of these drawbacks is terrible, but all of them together add up to considerable inconvenience. Like most Mac users, I can work much longer and conveniently on the Mac side of the machine. The Mac aesthetics are not just a matter of being pretty. The machine is much easier on the eyes, cutting down on fatigue, something that is almost never mentioned.
Then, I broke my arm skiing three weeks ago. I found myself totally dependent upon voice dictation, except that using the trackball to highlight text, copy and paste it was excruciating. In an extraordinary bit of coincidence, MacSpeech happened to send me a beta copy of their new program, MacSpeech Dictate, a couple of days after my accident. I was pretty skeptical, since I found their previous program unacceptable for sustained writing.
Even though some parts of it were still under development, it blew me away. (The MacSpeech people just revealed that it has licensed the Dragon NaturallySpeeking speech recognition engine, and is adapting it to the Mac. So, MacSpeech Dictate is using the Dragon voice recognition engine.) It also dictates right into my word processor, e-mail, writing program (Scrivener) and my blog post editor (Ecto). I can dictate so fast it’s almost frightening. Steven Wright jokes that he got hurt in a speed-reading accident. I feel like I’m about to get injured in a speed writing accident.
What’s so important about writing fast? Time saving is the least of it.
It makes my writing better. The processes of writing and editing should be separated. With voice dictation, I can close my eyes or look at the ceiling and just think my thoughts without distraction. When I look at the screen, there are my thoughts! I can then go back and polish. This has made a dramatic difference in the quality of my writing. Anything that gets in the way of putting thoughts onto paper is a distraction and decreases the quality. With voice dictation finally accurate enough to use on the Mac, all I have to do is think the thought and it magically appears in whatever program I want. Nothing else gets in the way.
Furthermore, my typing speed is about 2-3 times faster, since I make virtually no mistakes and can dictate much faster than I can actually type. So, I can sail through my e-mail at dazzling speed.
This entire blog post was done with MacSpeech Dictate, with well over 99% accuracy.
I want to congratulate the folks at MacSpeech. They are a living lesson in word-of-mouth marketing. I was publicly critical of their previous product. Instead of ignoring me or getting defensive, they contacted me and asked if I would like to work with their technical support in increasing my accuracy. Their technical support put in hours increasing my accuracy, but still, the fundamental design of the program and how it made corrections was just was too unwieldy for me to use. I stayed on as a beta tester mostly on the strength of their Customer Evangelist’s enthusiasm (thanks Chuck Rogers) and complete confidence that things would get better. What they couldn’t tell me was that they were coming out with an entirely new program, based on Dragon.
They were so customer oriented and enthusiastic about their product that I hung in there with them. As a result, I am now the poster boy for the expression “The biggest skeptic is the biggest convert.” I’m also going to tell thousands of people about the program via my speeches and blog, and demo it every chance I get. I can now also enthusiastically recommend the Mac, since it now has voice dictation. (I would never recommend that anyone but a very sophisticated user put Windows on a Mac.)
My arm is feeling better, but I won’t ever go back to Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Windows. Although I will leave Windows on my Mac just in case I need to run another Windows program, I really don’t think I’m ever going to see Windows defacing my Mac ever again.
WHWL? (What have we learned?)
- if you’ve got the goods, stay with your strongest critics, work with them, acknowledge that they may be right, take their suggestions. You never know who they will tell, who they know, how many thousands of people they can reach.
- Get them involved in product improvement. It’s very hard to be a net detractor for a product you have helped develop. They will, however, not be shy about criticizing you, usually constructively.
- Be straight with customers. Don’t make believe your product is better than it is. if you tell the truth, you’ll always be reality based and fix real things. If you distort, you’ll be fantasy based and start believing your own fantasies. You will break a lot more than you will fix.
- Make your customers feel like that 80 year old guy. Well, as close as you can get. These days, people only talk about the sensational.
Breaking News: MacSpeech Dictate just received Best of Show at Macworld! Congratulations!
Oh, by the way, the new Apple announcements at Macworld are pretty good too, but you can read about them elsewhere.
Either you’re supporting the customer’s decision making, or you’re creating clutter and obstructing it.
Prospects make dozens of little decisions as they move through the decision process:
- Decisions about entering the marketplace. “Browsing.”
- Decisions about learning about your products and your competitors’. Technical term: it’s called “Shopping.”
- Decisions about initial experiences with the product. Technical term: it’s called “Trying.”
- Decisions about purchase. Buying.
- Decisions about expanding usage: Using. committing.
- Decisions about the whole decision and usage experience. Raving, Evangelizing
Different customers have many different ways of doing each of these. Each has its own set of rules.
Your marketing materials and activities are rarely in exact sync with your customers. That’s why there are so many browsers and shoppers, but so few raving fans.
People are more in sync with their friends than they ever will be with your advertising and salespeople. That’s why word of mouth is so much more powerful than marketing.
The lessons learned from all this is that you need to:
- Lay out all the dozens of little steps that people need to take in order to go from browsing to evangelism.
- Spend a whole lot more time eliminating these steps or making the steps simpler, easier, faster, and more fun.
- Find every large and small block, barrier, impediment and bottleneck and eliminate them. “Disimpedimentation.”
- Focus on the whole decision experience rather than just the user experience with the product interface.
- Put a lot more time, energy and resources into streamlining and funifying the customer decision process from beginning to end. [By the way, there is no end, at least not with on-going customers.]
Conventional marketing complexifies by shoveling information at already overloaded people.
You can use this decision smoothing approach by employing word of mouth and other techniques to smooth out the bumps in your customers’ very rough decision process.
More to come. Stay tuned. I feel another book coming on.
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Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
In case you missed this hilarious spoof on WOM agent marketing, published over a year ago:Read More Post a comment (0)
As I predicted, it happened. I won’t rehash
the thousands of blog posts on the subject of running
Windows on the Intel Mac. For those who haven’t
heard, and for the record, Apple announced yesterday
an official version of a program that allows Windows
to run on the newer Macs with Intel chips and they
announced that it will be built into the next update
of their operating system.
Thousands of blog posts
were instantly posted yesterday. The announcement
made the front page of the New York Times and the
front page of the second section of the Wall Street
Journal today. All of this despite the fact that
Apple virtually hid the announcement: no usual big
splash, not on the home page of their web site, buried
in their web site. This, despite the fact that it’s
one of the biggest announcements in the computer
industry in the last decade.
The reason I’m talking about it here is because
it illustrates many word of mouth and other marketing
principles, and allows us to make many predictions.
As I’ve said before here and here, there is a huge disconnect
between the word of mouth for Macs and their actual
sales. Only about 2.6% of business users use Macs.
But more than half of them say that they would switch
to Macs if they could do so painlessly.
This illustrates the principle that word of mouth
is not enough. Word of mouth is only powerful because
it gets people past the decision blocks that conventional
marketing is not effective with. Issues having to
do with experience, credibility, simplification,
subtle interpretation, reassurance, encouragement
and real-world practical nuts and bolts. Advertising,
sales people and other conventional marketing methods
do not work very well on marketing blocks that involve
these issues. Friends, colleagues, experts and advisers
are much more helpful in these areas.
Now, there is a gradual way to switch to the Mac,
as I’ve described in previous posts.
My analysis of the Mac decision map has revealed
many blocks. The biggest one is the lack of a way
to try OS X and to switch to it gradually. This new
development is important because it wipes out these
Word of mouth ultimately wins. Blatantly inferior
products like Windows, GM and Ford cars, AT&T
and Verizon long distance telephone service ultimately
lose because information transmitted independently
through word of mouth will ultimately overwhelm (in
both credibility and quantity) slick ads. It doesn’t
matter how big the company is. Especially when those
ads are insulting to customers. (For instance, depicting
them as dinosaurs, as Microsoft does.) These were,
and are, the largest companies in the world. It doesn’t
matter. Google may be headed in the same direction.
People love telling other people about new and better
search engines, and the cost for switching is very
low. For instance, ask.com and accoona.com have been
mentioned to me many times in the last week and I’m
actively trying them out, even though I love Google.
The cost of switching to Apple has always been high,
The takeaway here is to keep your eye on the steps
that people need to go through in the decision process.
This will reveal all sorts of blocks and opportunities
that will allow you to have very high prediction
Oh, yes, the predictions. The necessity to reboot
when switching between OS X and Windows is a huge
block. My guess is that it will not take more than
a few weeks, given the enormous interest shown, to
develop a switching program that does not require
a reboot. In fact, it may already be here. Today’s
Wall Street Journal mentions a beta program called
Parallels that purports to do this.
I predict that GM and Ford will continue to take
themselves into deeper holes before desperation causes
them to take some very bold moves. First there will
be the corporate financial moves, which may bring
them breathing room but will do nothing for their
sales. Then there will be some dramatic product quality
moves. I have no way of predicting whether these
moves will be too little or too late. I am very pessimistic,
because the only thing that will save them is to
turn around word of mouth. But they don’t even
begin to understand what word of mouth is, as evidenced
by the Tahoe CGM campaign. They’re just using
word of mouth as another manipulation. They need
to bring in the customer by having the customer help
them design the car, not the ads. They need to openly
and transparently share their commitment and steps
to solving the product quality problems.
That’s what Apple did. They paid attention
to the enormous desire of their customers to be able
to run Windows on their Macs for the few programs
that cannot be translated to OS X. The announcement
released an almost overwhelming torrent of word of
mouth. Sales will go through the roof because the
solution is already “good enough” and
will only get better.
Another prediction: there will be an enormous fight
the other way around. People will get OS X working
on Windows boxes. This will probably unleash a gigantic
fight from Apple. While I believe that they should
have the right to attach any conditions to the sale
of their programs, this would be a mistake. They
could sell a huge number of operating systems without
the machines. This would result in huge incremental
profit. Since they always seem to be able to stay
ahead of the other machines in features, quality
and attitude, they would compete very well on the
boxes, too. But only if they stay the “good
guy” and don’t turn people against them
by coercive actions.
Give the people what they want, don’t fight
their desires and their WOM, empower them to go the
next steps and don’t set up obstacles to what
they are going to do anyway. So far, so good.
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.
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