Posts Tagged ‘WOMworthy products’

Word of Mouth — without words and without mouths!

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:

200808151508

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:

  1. A wildly superior, unusual product.
  2. Easy to talk about the product as a whole.
  3. A technology story that is easy to describe, thereby giving a “reason to believe.”
  4. 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.”
  5. Celebrity endorsements. Some paid, others spontaneous.
  6. 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”)]
  7. Controversy, generating buzz, that reflects well on them. After all, if the suits were not effective, there would be no accusations of unfairness.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Yes, but…

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, , Decision Simplification, WOMM, Womworthy products, word of mouth marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing

Technorati Tags: Customer Decision Experience, Decision Simplification, , WOMM, Womworthy products, word of mouth marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing

Technorati Tags: Customer Decision Experience, Decision Simplification, , WOMM, Womworthy products, word of mouth marketing, Word-of-mouth marketing

David Pogue wonders about the Macintosh Surge

David Pogue has recently attempted to explain the Macintosh Surge, and solicited opinions about it:

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/explaining-the-macintosh-surge/

The comments, hundreds of them!, are a primer on WOM and should be read by anyone interested in WOM.

(Those of you who go to the WOMMA conventions: remember when I got up and challenged the Vista product manager to give me a single reason to switch to Vista, instead of a contest to win a trip to the moon!)

In part, here’s what he says:

At the risk of enraging the Apple bashers, I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer: Something is going on with the Macintosh.

At this week’s Macworld Expo, there were 475 exhibitors. That’s 100 more booths than last year.

There were 50,000 attendees. That’s 10,000 more people than last year.

A book publisher told me that 2007 Macintosh book sales were up by double-digit leaps over the previous year.

Gartner’s fourth-quarter 2007 research shows that Mac shipments grew 28 percent over the year before, giving it an 6.1 percent market share. (It was 3-point-something only a couple of years ago.)

According to Net Applications, use of the Mac’s Web browser, Safari, climbed 32 percent in 2007.

Apple sold 2.16 million Macs in the last quarter–a new company record.

And anecdotally—well, you probably know somebody who’s switched to the Mac recently.

What is going on?

He rejects the IPod (and by implication iPhone) halo effects.

He rejects the “fed up with viruses and spyware” argument.

He says that the best theory is “Windows Vista.” “When people found out they’d have to buy a new computer and learn a new interface, a certain slice of them just said, ‘Well, if I have to buy a new machine and learn a new interface, I may as well get the cool-looking, virus-free one.’

He goes on to ask, ”But could that effect explain this gigantic 35 percent leap in just 12 months? It’s still an expensive proposition to switch platforms once you’ve got an investment in software and peripherals.

Anyone else got a better theory?“

What he didn’t mention:

He and other gurus now openly support the Mac.

A HUGE increase in the Mac notebook share of market.

The ability for Macs to co-exist on Windows networks.

The seamless integration between the iPhone and/or iPods, email programs, iPhoto, ITunes, IMovie, iCal (the Mac calendar).

Some programs that are Mac-only that are so good that it’s worth switching for them. For me, they are DevonThink Pro (a free-form database that you can dump all your info into and retrieve with artificial intelligence — and a whole lot more) and Scrivener, an authoring program for articles, scripts and books that goes light years beyond word processing by separating info gathering, writing and formatting into totally separate processes. Quicksilver — the most useful program I’ve ever used that is so all-purpose that I can’t even describe it adequately. (But, here’s a try: with a couple of keystrokes, it lets me instantaneously find any file, move it, open it, launch programs, add text to files without even opening them, send emails, look up phone numbers, plus dozens of other things without even thinking.) Plus, Keynote is way better than PowerPoint. Plus some technically advanced photography programs that I can’t even go into.

in addition, the upcoming arrival (which he did mention in another post) of MacSpeech Dictate, the super-accurate speech recognition program, and the even better implementation of Microsoft Word 2008 on the Mac than Word 2007 on Windows itself! also make the Mac much more attractive, and well worth the learning curve.

Here’s my take:

His premise is wrong. He is looking for something that has recently changed to explain it all.

PC vs. Mac is the largest word-of-mouth disparity that I have found in decades of studying word of mouth. I’ve been predicting this surge for years because nothing can withstand the degree of negative word of mouth that Windows and Microsoft have, especially against such a positive WOM alternative.

As I’ve reported before, when I give a speech and talk about this, I ask the audience how many people use Windows. Then I ask, knowing what they know now, how many of them think they would switch to a Mac for their next machine if it were feasible to run their Windows programs, or make an easy switch, if it didn’t cost them much in money or time. At least 80% of them say they would, if their companies would only let them. This much pent-up demand is screaming to be satisfied.

But for the first time, it’s becoming ever more easily satisfied.

What has held it back is that Apple has ”knowledge blindness“ and doesn’t understand how onerous people imagine the switch to be. Apple doesn’t understand that most people don’t even know what an operating system is, and don’t want to. Apple doesn’t understand all the things they could be doing to ease the switch and think they are doing all they can.

The ”Tipping Point“ is arriving.

Gradually, these decision barriers have been coming down. Required, legacy Windows programs can be run on the Mac, so businesses can use it. Famous Windows mavins, and regular IT people are encouraging their non-geek spouses, children, friends and grandmothers to buy Macs, so they don’t have to be bothered by phone calls. The technology mavins like Pogue  himself and Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal have finally come out of the closet and no longer afraid to say that the Mac is much better. The Mac kids are growing up. The last few areas missing Mac programs, such as voice recognition and GPS mapping, now have Mac alternatives, often better ones. And now, they keep hearing how easy it all is to switch. Apple is porting over files from PCs at Apple stores. More complete switching support would be even better, but it’s coming along. Apple stores themselves have revolutionized retailing. More of people’s friends are able to offer support, as are stores and consultants. Apple offers a $99 one-year series of private, weekly lessons in how to do YOUR things on the Mac. It’s turned many people I know from people who hate the computer, to people who have fun on it and produce cool things that spread the word of mouth.

Example: My wife — who barely tolerated and rarely used her Windows computer — has been having a ball doing the things she is learning in those lessons. She has produced our Holiday cards on it, stunning picture and all. Of course, on the back of each card, it says ”Made on a Mac“ (which could have been optionally removed, but we are Mac fans).

Gradually, the word of mouth is reaching critical mass, so that a large number of people keep hearing from people they know and trust that the switch will be painless and supported. In addition, they keep seeing all the cool things that their friends can do: the movies, greeting cards, coffee-table picture books, web sites, picture galleries, etc.

So, the answer, David, in summary, is that you are seeing a surge now because of the exponential effects of word of mouth. At some point, it reaches critical mass, then everyone asks, ”what’s new,“ looks around for an event, and points to the most obvious or most proximal. There is no single event. The so-called ”tipping point“ is made possible by all of these events, plus the removal of most of the under-appreciated barriers to switching.

Apple creates WOMworthy products (spectacularly simple, elegant yet powerful) that makes people feel very good about themselves, creating word of mouth. AND — the reason that the geeks don’t understand — we are reaching the point where real people are viewing the switch as less onerous. What technical people see as an adventure and ”not a problem“ is becoming actually just about tolerable and only minimally painful for the rest of the world..

At some point WOM grows exponentially, so look for the surge to turn into an explosion in Mac sales at some point in the very near future, if Apple doesn’t get too arrogant and shoot itself in the foot, which it could easily do, since it is product oriented (in the best sense) rather than people oriented. When they make mistakes, that’s where they tend to make them.

One last point. Imagine what would happen if the Mac OS could run Windows programs natively, without virtualization software and without Windows. Apple would take over the market overnight.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author,
The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

main website:
www.mnav.com    blog: wordofmouth.typepad.com

Sometimes you want to tell everybody! Why?

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.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

main website:
www.mnav.com    blog: wordofmouth.typepad.com

WOMWorthy product: Harry Potter at the IMAX

Quick heads up:

I don’t know where the word of mouth is on this one. You just HAVE to see the new Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) at the IMAX. Turns out that (only at IMAX) the last part is in the most mind-blowing 3D you’ve ever seen. The rest of the movie is great, too. They managed to resist overdoing the magic special effects (can’t believe as a magician I just said that), focused on the important things: values, relationships, characters, etc.

I haven’t seen any mentions of the 3D IMAX version. Found out about it by WOM from my daughter, who dragged us to see it. I wasn’t even going to go because I didn’t enjoy the last one enough to bother. I’ve never seen a movie that was better than the book, except for “The 10 Commandments.”

Surprise! Give ’em a little frisson to be Womworthy

Did you know that there is a hidden symbol in the FedEx logo?

It symbolizes speed and precision.

Once you see it, you can’t not see it. I won’t spoil the fun by pointing it out.

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t know about it, stop here and look for it.

Yes, it’s intentional. The designer, Lindon Leader, had some very interesting things to say about it.

What’s this doing in a marketing blog? Glad you asked.

First of all, it’s a great example of knowledge blindness. Once you see it, you can’t NOT see it.

Secondly, why make the insignificant significant? Why elevate a minor little surprise into a major distraction, like almost every web site?

I was struck by the question that the logo designer says he is always asked:

“Why choose to keep the arrow so subtle? It seems to show remarkable restraint. Weren’t you or the people at FedEx ever tempted to make it more obvious with an outline or a different color?”

It’s so obvious that I might not have asked the question, but I’m glad the interviewer did:

He replied that the arrow is one of the most mundane graphic devices. There is nothing unique or particularly strategic, from a marketing point of view, in an arrow as a brand identifier.

Then Lindon went on to say,

The power of the hidden arrow is simply that it is a “hidden bonus.” It is a positive-reverse optical kind of thing: either you see it or you don’t. Importantly, not “getting the punch line” by not seeing the arrow, does not reduce the impact of the logo’s essential communication. The power of the logo and the FedEx marketing supporting the logo is strong enough to convey clearly FedEx brand positioning [Speed  & Precision]. On the other hand, if you do see the arrow, or someone points it out to you, you won’t forget it. I can’t tell you how many people have told me how much fun they have asking others “if they can spot ‘something’ in the logo.” To have filled in the arrow, or to somehow make it more “visible” would have been like Henny Youngman saying “Please take my wife” instead of “Take my wife. Please.” Punch lines that need to be explained are neither funny nor memorable. (Emphasis mine).

In other words, it’s hidden, surprising, memorable, unusual. It’s one of life’s little pick-me-ups on an otherwise boring truck, envelope or uniform. So, it causes Word of Mouth. People like to point it out, or ask others to spot it. Like I’m doing now.

(FedEx did not pay for this ad. That’s the point.)

I’ve always said that FedEx didn’t succeed, as most business books state, because of its brilliant logistics breakthrough of sending the packages to a central point (Memphis), sorting there, then sending back out. They succeeded because they were beneficially unusual and constructively quirky. In those days, secretaries sent packages. They told secretaries they would look good because they would positively, absolutely DELIVER overnight. In those days, reliable delivery was as unusual as a customer-oriented phone company is today.

(On the day I wrote this, an iPhone customer got a 300 page bill, itemizing every text message, from AT&T, delivered in a box. It made the national news. No, not a FedEx box. I looked. Wouldn’t that have been perfect?)

Example of How to Promote a WOMworthy Product Via Word-of-Mouth Marketing: AeroPress

Here’s a great example of word-of-mouth marketing, on many levels.

Background: I’ve recently gotten into home coffee roasting. It’s a growing trend that you’re going to be hearing a great deal about. The whole home coffee-roasting phenomenon is rife with wonderful word-of-mouth examples and case studies, about which I will be posting soon. [There is a whole universe out there that every marketer can learn a tremendous amount from in the worlds of green coffee bean sellers, roasting machines (including hot-air popcorn poppers!), grinders and coffee makers. The brilliant marketing and the blunders of these people provide some amazing examples of how to market products on extremely low budgets in long-tailed, niche markets.]

Anyway, I saw a post in Josh Rubin’s Cool Hunting Blog about a coffee maker, the Aerobie AeroPress, and landed on its website. I actually did not land on its home page, but on the page referenced in the Cool Hunting Blog, which is an info page.  (Click here for the page)

Wow! It’s a masterpiece (I suspect because it is probably constructed by an amateur, probably the inventor himself. :update: see update at end). It’s better than the home page (pretty good, also) Almost the whole thing is carried by a series of testimonials, which they brilliantly call “reviews.” (I’m going to change my vocabulary over to mostly use the word “review” instead of  “testimonial.”)

There is a list of short testimonials, whoops reviews, that are extremely specific and to the point. They are sourced from an impressive bunch of people, starting with “It makes the absolute best cup of coffee I’ve tasted in my entire life.”  –Louis Singer  –Cook’s Junction. Instantly, you are – or at least I was – hooked.

Notice an important principle of word-of-mouth marketing here: your customers can say things for you that you just can’t say yourself. If the headline were, “the best cup of coffee that you’ve ever tasted,” it would be totally unbelievable. Unless, of course, it was followed by a quote, thereby giving it credibility. There follow another 15 very interesting short quotes. Some general, some specific. Some with sweeping praise, others with short stories. Study these reviews carefully. They are a living lesson on the kinds of testimonials you want to elicit, using the techniques in my book. I could spend an entire workshop on just this one page, particularly these 15 testimonials reviews.

Then, and only then, once you are hopelessly hooked if you are a coffee lover, it is followed by five very short paragraphs under the heading “There Are Several Reasons Why AeroPress Coffee Tastes So Good:”

Total immersion of the grounds in the water

results in rapid yet robust extraction of flavor.

Total immersion permits extraction at a

moderate temperature, resulting in a smoother brew.

Air pressure shortens filtering time to 20

seconds. This avoids the bitterness of long

processes such as drip brewing.

The air pressure also gently squeezes the last

goodness from the grounds, further enriching the flavor.

Because of the lower temperature and short

brew time, the acid level of the brew is much

lower than conventional brewers. Laboratory

pH testing measured AEROPRESS brew’s

acid as less than one fifth that of regular drip

brew. The low acid is confirmed by coffee

lovers who report that AEROPRESS brew is

friendlier to their stomachs.

Notice, EVERY feature followed by a benefit. Simple. Elegant. Not a wasted word. (Wish I could write like that!) Look the paragraph above. Laboratory third party proof assertion, followed by confirmation. No hype adjectives. No BS. Totally  believable. Hot damn, this is good.

Then, the question is going to be, “Well, how does it compare with my present methods?” So, a comparison of brewing methods follows, specifically telling you the shortcomings of drip brewing, espresso machines, pod brewers and French presses. These negative comparisons are not just bald, self-serving assertions, they are often put into the mouths of third parties, a.k.a. word of mouth.

Then, it tells the story of the invention of the AeroPress by Alan Adler, a Stanford University mechanical engineering lecturer who is also the inventor of the Aerobie, a Frisbee-like object that holds the record for the world’s furthest thrown object (about a quarter of a mile) and President of the Aerobie company, which has about 15 other extraordinary products.

AEROPRESS is the result of several years of applied research by inventor/engineer Alan Adler. He conducted numerous brewing experiments, measuring the brew with laboratory instruments. The experiments demonstrated that proper temperature, total immersion and rapid filtering were key to flavor excellence. He then designed and tested dozens of brewers before settling on the AEROPRESS design. The design was further validated by coffee lovers who tested prototypes in their homes. Adler has about forty U.S. patents and an equal number of foreign patents. He is President of Aerobie, Inc, Palo Alto, California and a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. Adler’s best-known invention is the Aerobie flying ring which set the Guinness World record for the world’s farthest throw (1,333 feet).

(Notice the great example of soft-sell, inferred WOM throughout.)

Then they have a link to a list of walk-in and Internet retailers in the United States and internationally. When you go to those sites, you see other reviews, none of which is less than four stars and most of which are five stars. Furthermore, you can buy this thing for less than $30. (On an obnoxious, interruptive commercial it would be worded “not $1500 for an expensive espresso machine, not $1000, not $500, no not $250 or even $100. Yours for only one single payment of $25 plus shipping! Of course, on the AeroPress site, they only imply that it is inexpensive and let you be pleasantly surprised later.)

By the way, I learned on several of these other sites that Alan Adler participates in coffee discussion groups. Another a word-of-mouth lesson: join the discussion. I haven’t found any examples yet, but I’m sure he acts like an engineer and not a marketer: fact and evidence-based, reasonable, noticeable absence of hype, plenty of real-life examples, etc. One negative: he doesn’t have a blog yet; I’d subscribe in an instant.

Of course, I ordered it, paying a little extra at my favorite coffee site, Sweet Maria’s, so that I could take advantage of shipping efficiencies and trying a couple more examples of their extraordinary green beans. Sweet Maria’s is a wonderful example of how to differentiate your product through informational and educational enhancements. I use their example in word-of-mouth speeches all the time. More about them in some future posts.

How’s that for word of mouth? I got so excited that I’m posting about it before it even arrives! Of course, that’s several more lessons: when you get someone this excited, you better deliver the goods or you will have more than a disappointed ex-customer; you will have an angry one. Also, you can create an insanely great product in a mundane, niche market if you include all the right ingredients: On the one hand, it’s just a tube with a plunger. On the other hand, its years of dedicated experimentation, plus huge amounts of creative intelligence, plus a whole lot of other things, resulting in the extraordinary elegance and simplicity of a tube with a plunger that’s going to save me from countless horrible cups of coffee in hotel rooms. I can’t wait.

Update: Got so enthused, I spoke with their General Manager, Alex Tennant. He confirmed what I expected: Although he has an MBA in marketing, he is not a professional marketer — he runs the company. He and Alan, their engineer president, wrote all of the copy. No agencies involved. He says, ”Our aim is to create extraordinary products.“ These guys don’t have a separate marketing function. Or, to be more precise, their whole company is the marketing function: creating extraordinary products and then being straightforward in presenting them honestly, letting their products and their customers do the talking. How often does that happen? I’ve gotta meet these guys.

Further update: I’ve been using it for months now, and it’s the best coffee maker I’ve ever used. You have to get used to the taste (was a little disappointed at first) because there is absolutely no bitterness, so cream can overwhelm it unless used very sparingly. I now often drink it black, or with very little cream. Most people have never tasted really fresh-roasted coffee (between 1-7 days after roasting is the flavor peak). It’s a different experience. The problem is now that I can’t stand almost any coffee that I get anywhere else.

For the enthusiasts: As of now, my favorite is Sweet Maria’s Puro Scuro Blend green coffee (unroasted) roasted in the Behmor Coffee Roaster, then made in the AeroPress. Heaven.

WOMworthy: the Pluot

Just ran across an inter­est­ing new prod­uct that is appar­ently catch­ing on by WOM: the Pluot®. It’s a cross (actu­aly an “inter­spe­cific,” which is more than just a blend) between a plum and an apri­cot and comes in many vari­eties. It tastes great, but our focus here is on inter­est­ing Word of Mouth stories.

To read an inter­est­ing WOM story about how the Pluot word of mouth is being trans­mit­ted by an expert and by ordi­nary peo­ple, see Emeril’s post about it here.

You can also read about the prod­uct from its devel­oper. Link. There, you’ll also read about another prod­uct, but I’ll let you dis­cover it for yourself.

Isn’t this a prod­uct that cries out for sam­pling and in-store tast­ing? Why haven’t I been offered a taste of this won­der­ful product?

Warn­ing: don’t just buy one to take home.

By the way, I go to a small Korean super­mar­ket (Orange Mar­ket in Orange­burg, NY) that will let me taste (actu­ally, they encour­age me to taste) any fruit that I’m think­ing of buying. Isn’t that the way to make the decision easy?

Lesson; Give them a taste. In showbiz, it’s called “Show ’em a little leg.”