Archive for General

What do you think of this? HELP!

June 26, 2011 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

I’ve just revised my bio. It was pedantic and academic, and didn’t give a picture of what I’m all about. So, I revised it. Here’s the problem, I have Expert Blindness on this subject. While I think I’ve trained myself over the years to have less expert blindness than most, this one’s about the product I’m most expert about, close to and nonobjective about: ME. I don’t have a clue if this gives a picture of me in a good way, or if it’s off track. I’ve tried to reveal who and what I’m about in a way that facilitates decisions about whether to work with me as a marketing consultant. But I look at it and I don’t have a clue. I think you’ll find it interesting, since it summarizes some marketing principles about as succinctly as I’ve ever done.

I’d sure appreciate your frank feedback. Particularly, what was helpful in getting to know me? What gave you pause, raised questions, stimulated qualms, or in any way put you off. Don’t worry about being insulting or trying to be tactful. The main criteria you should use is, “Does this make it easier to get a 1-1.5 hour telephone marketing consultation with George Silverman?” What would make it easier?

You can either answer this email to grsatmnavdotcom, or go the About page and enter a comment. Thanks in advance.

I’m posting this as a blog post, so that the people who subscribe via email to get my blog posts will see it. Its actual home is the About page on the menu at the top of the pages on my web site.

To review it, click here

Are you being subtly obnoxious?

March 26, 2008 |  by  |  General  |  No Comments

Sometimes, exerting a little pressure on customers to get them to use your services again seems perfectly reasonable from the company’s point of view.

From a recent Hilton email:

.. But Time is Running Out

We don’t want to lose you as a valued member. Please act by
June 01, 2008 to keep your HHonors account open. If no activity is recorded by that time, the remaining point balance will be forfeited and your account will be closed. Prior to your account closing, you may redeem your points for any eligible reward. For a complete listing of HHonors rewards, click  here.

To which I replied:

If you really don’t want to lose a valuable member, don’t apply this pressure. Just keep the account open and don’t hit me with arbitrary requirements.

To which they replied:

As long as you keep your account active by recording at least one eligible point earning activity every 12 months, your HHonors points will not expire.  However, should you go more than 12 months without recording any eligible activity, your account will be deactivated and your accumulated point balance will be forfeited. If you do not have an activity, your account will be automatically closed due to inactivity.

If you have any further questions regarding your HHonors account, please let me know.


Hilton Reservations and Customer Care

2050 Chennault Drive

Carrolton, TX 75001

To which I replied:

Thanks for responding personally.

If you knew how arbitrary, threatening and non-customer-oriented that sounds, you would not do it or say it. It’s so bad that I’m going to use it as an example of bad customer policies and communication in my blog and my speeches. Thanks for the material.

Here’s the communication that I would have liked to have received. Wouldn’t this have been better?

Dear Mr. Silverman,

We noticed that you haven’t stayed at a Hilton for a while. Is this just an accidental byproduct of naturally fluctuating travel patterns, has our competition provided something better, or did we do something that you are not happy with? While we usually close down inactive accounts after a year of inactivity, if you click on this link to tell us to keep it open, we will be happy to do so.  But more importantly, if there is anything that we can improve or rectify, I want to hear about it so that I can personally intervene to make it right.

We know that it is very hard to get new customers but it is very easy to lose them. While our business is formally called the hospitality business, we know that we are in the happiness business. We are passionate about constantly improving our level of hospitality and your happiness. Please take a moment to tell me what we can do better, no matter how ambitious or how minor it may seem from your perspective. Our legendary level of service comes from two things: a few occasional major breakthroughs and hundreds of minor improvements. Many of these come from customer suggestions, even though our professionals literally stay up nights figuring out improvements. We don’t just say that you are a “valued member.” As you will see if you take the trouble to jot down a few thoughts, we take your happiness seriously and will demonstrate to you just how valuable we consider your patronage.

Bee, your personal customer advocate.

BTW, call me at ——– if you want to talk about this personally.


Some hotel firms, other firms, actually to send letters like this — and mean it. They follow up, make things right, provide personal service and don’t send out form letters.

By the way, I have no gripe about Hilton Hotels. My last stay at a DoubleTree in LA was wonderful. Too bad they had to ruin it with bad corporate communications. Come to think of it, I’ve gone more than a year on occasion without staying at a Marriott. They never cancelled my account.

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?)

What to focus on

August 7, 2007 |  by  |  General  |  ,  |  No Comments

Most companies focus on beating the competition. Apple focuses on … well, let’s let Steve Jobs say it:

Is Apple’s goal to overtake the PC in market share? Jobs said, “Our goal is to make the best personal computers in the world and make products we are proud to sell and recommend to our family and friends. We want to do that at the lowest prices we can.

”But there’s some stuff in our industry that we wouldn’t be proud to ship. And we just can’t do it. We can’t ship junk,“ said Jobs. ”There are thresholds we can’t cross because of who we are. And we think that there’s a very significant slice of the [market] that wants that too. You’ll find that our products are not premium priced. You price out our competitors’ products, and add features that actually make them useful, and they’re the same or actually more expensive. We don’t offer stripped-down, lousy products.“

This isn’t a lot different than the official statements from many companies. The difference is that Jobs means it and lives it.

As quoted in MacWorld today. He was announcing the new ILife and IWork 08 suites.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

main website:    blog:

A Hilarious Spoof on Word-of-Mouth Marketing

January 17, 2007 |  by  |  General  |  , , ,  |  No Comments

In case you missed this hilarious spoof on WOM agent marketing, published over a year ago:

From the Onion

Read More Post a comment (0)

Warning: Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing Losing Its Way?

I found the WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) conference in Washington last month both exhilarating and disturbing. I’ve been worrying about the current state of word-of-mouth marketing ever since.

It was quite a turn-on to see so many people enthusiastic about word-of-mouth marketing. But, after Andy Sernovitz’ inspiring opening remarks about the simplicity of word-of-mouth marketing – it’s all about the simple idea that happy customers recommend you, which grows your business – it went rapidly downhill for me with subsequent speakers and panelists. And in a very disheartening way.

They talked mostly about technique rather than strategy

What disturbed me was an almost total concentration on
techniques, methods and tactics rather than purpose, goals, objectives and – above all –strategy.

Granted, I didn’t see every presentation and I understand that several speakers did mention strategy. Also, in all fairness, many of the presenters on panels had only about 12 minutes to present. Nevertheless, I would assume that when you have 12 minutes, you present the most important essence of what you are doing. Also, there is tremendous pressure at a conference to give people nuts and bolts “how to’s” so that people can feel that they came away with something practical.

Nevertheless, there is almost a Christmas-morning delirium about our new toys, together with an irresistible urge to unwrap them and start playing with them. But, let’s not take our bicycles right out into the snow yet. Let’s spend a little more time on strategy.

Why? You can have a good strategy and bad tactics and still win because you quickly adjust tactics to feedback. With the right strategy, you’re in the right place at the right time, doing the right kinds of things (which may need improvement).

Conversely, good tactics will not make a bad strategy work.

You can even have a good strategy in the wrong place at the wrong time, so that neither good strategy nor good tactics will work. Think of the Iraqi war: Free markets and representative, constitutional democracies are good strategies to build nations. Getting rid of a dictator is a good first step tactically. But in the midst of conflicting religious and ethnic fanaticism, these strategies don’t work. They lead to civil chaos. The efficient, tactical win at the beginning was well executed. But the strategies were wrong.

Back to WOMMA. Even companies like Dell and Microsoft – who I respect tremendously – talked about all kinds of tactics designed to get people talking, instead of concentrating on the fundamental changes in their products that would get people to talk in ways that would cause fundamental product evangelism, loyalty and trust.

Instead, many speakers throughout the whole conference talked about artificial, superficial ways that will get people talking about how unusual the message itself was. So there is a proliferation in word of mouth circles of fancy videos, contests, and all kinds of programs that are more designed to get people talking about the medium itself — hoping that the “buzz” will somehow rub off on the product image — rather than talking about the product.

What I was craving was somebody getting up and saying, “here’s what we’re building into our product: things that will blow people away and here’s what we are doing to motivate and enable people to talk about that.” I’m sad to say that I heard absolutely none of that.

For instance, what is Microsoft building into their new operating system Vista that would get me to install it on my computer? Or, how are they going to get me to realize that a new feature that I might ignore is extremely beneficial to me, in fact so beneficial that I will rave about it to my friends? What is Dell building into its computers that would get me to buy one instead of an Intel Mac? No, they are talking about admirable and wonderful programs that keep them in touch with and responsive to various segments and niches through blogging and many other creative programs. But these are what should come after building products that are remarkable, outstanding, extraordinary and unique.

This is like advertising was before and after its golden age. Before the golden age of advertising, people just put drawings of the product in the mass media, without any benefit statements or even descriptions. Then, advertising hit its stride and discovered its true strengths: bringing dramatizations of the unique benefits of the product to the masses. It was “salesmanship in print” in the best sense. It zeroed in on the most beneficial, unique aspects of the product and dramatized them in an entertaining way that got attention. At least, the best of it did. Then, the side show took over the circus. Most of it — to this day — gave up dramatizing the benefits and went for image instead. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” became the rallying call for the hypemeisters. Advertising lost its way and just tries to make an intrusive impression, confusing getting attention with fundamental persuasion. Advertising is now judged by its entertainment value rather than its persuasive results. For instance, after the Super Bowl each year, there are many published polls naming the commercials voted “best” by viewers. So, you can win “best commercial” and go out of business because the commercials didn’t cause any sales, as 17 out of 18 of the companies did in, I believe, 2002.

Advertising that calls attention to itself — instead of something related to the product — almost never works. Advertising history is filled with examples. Many of them won awards. But the products failed.

In the same way, the present word-of-mouth marketing movement, I’m afraid, may be losing its way. Marketers need to spend more time creating products that are so unusually good that people will recommend them to their friends and providing the mechanisms to do so. Instead, people are focusing on the superficial aspects of our newfound ability to get people to talk about almost anything as an end in itself, in the hope that some of it will rub off on the brand.

This will be just as self-defeating as it is presently in advertising. Pretty soon there will be so much viral video and so many pseudo-sincere (or even actually sincere) company blogs that people will just ignore them. There will be so many “agents” who were given free samples, that people will learn to probe about whether they are an agent and stop listening to their friends’ recommendations.

Update: After I wrote the above, I came across this brilliant presentation of John Moore at the Jan, 2006 Orlando WOMMA conference, talking about Creationist (the hype marketers) vs. Evolutionist (people focused on the product and customer) marketing. Just one quote:

“The Creationist WOM marketing mindset is about making the WOM activity more remarkable, while the Evolutionist WOM mindset is more about making products and experiences more remarkable.”  Well worth watching:

Bravo, John!

It’s not about the buzz you create. It’s about creating product decision and usage experiences that cause raves. A buzz doesn’t sound anything like a rave.

Here’s another post that references the best slide decks of WOMMA, including thank you, my own. Many of the talks are strategic.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

main website:    blog:

Windows applications on Macs without Windows

Update: So far, the following prediction was wrong. [See the update at the end] I still think that it will be true, when Apple finally gets around to making their Leopard announcements. It was a big disappointment to not hear anything about Mac at MacWorld Expo. Maybe instead of renaming Apple Computer to Apple (which was one of their “big” announcements at MacWorld), they should rename MacWorld Expo to iWorld or iPod Expo. Did they forget about the Mac?

I have long been writing and speaking about the Mac as the product that has the worst word of mouth to sales ratio, probably in the history of marketing. In other words, it probably has the best word of mouth of any present product. Yet, as of this writing, it only has 7% of the computer market. I often use it as an example of the fact that we have to curb our enthusiasm when we start talking about word of mouth overriding all other marketing considerations. In this case, what is holding back Mac is the perceived anticipation of a great deal of pain in switching, together with the fact that Windows programs will not work directly on a Mac without a great deal of inconvenience, such as rebooting or using other programs such as Parallels or Crossover to switch back and forth.

Here are my predictions: Next week, on Tuesday, January 9th at MacWorld, Steve Jobs will announce that the new Mac operating system called Leopard, OS X 10.5, will directly run Windows applications without needing Windows. That’s right, you will be able to install and run any Windows program directly into the Mac without having a copy of Windows on the machine! [Update: they made NO Leopard announcements!]

This will be the biggest announcement in the computer industry in the last decade or two.

I further predict that, if and when it occurs, this will produce the biggest word-of-mouth blowout in history. Combine the pent up positive word of mouth of the Mac with the negative word of mouth toward Microsoft, Windows, XP, Vista, the Windows PC makers like Dell, viruses, adware, spyware, malware, etc. and you have an explosive combination. This will be the most interesting test in years of the unleashing of word of mouth. It will demonstrate to the entire marketing community what happens when you follow my marketing approach of Blockbusting: find the  decision blocks, bust ’em up, and you will see exponential growth.

I have been following Technorati and Google searches for months now to see if anyone appreciates what is about to happen. While I’m not the first to predict Windows apps running natively on the Mac, there are very, very few of us making that extreme prediction. Most are predicting some kind of hybrid, virtualization solution.

To my knowledge, I’m the only one predicting the landslide success of Mac in the next year. It probably won’t be immediate, but as the snowball gains momentum, it will grow exponentially. First, people will need the word of mouth of infomediaries  like David Pogue and Walter Mossberg, plus their own friends nad colleagues — particularly the non-technical — to see that it actually works, even with legacy programs. Assuming that it does work for the non-technical, it will throw the Mac into production problems, especially when the Vista virus and other problems start spreading.

By the way, I was among the first to predict that a way would be found to get Windows to work on the then-new Intel Mac. It caused a lot of WOM among the tech savvy and a lot of sales, but not among the corporate people who would have to use it seamlessly at work. Now they can. Now we’ll find out that a lot of corporate IT people have Macs at home.

Advanced congratulations to Steve Jobs and the entire Apple team. You’ve finally completed the chain. (You now need my consulting to figure out how to handle the tornado.) [Update: There was an immediate crescendo of boos after the non-announcements of anything Leopard, Mac, iLife, iWork, etc., or even anything computer, except to take out “Computer” from their name]


Well, I was wrong about the announcement, but I stand by the fact that this is the biggest WOM disparity in the history of marketing, just waiting for an explosion.

[The only other time I was wrong was in 1972, when I had thought I had made a mistake! 😉 Brings to mind the quote from George Bernard Shaw, “The longer I live, the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time.”]

I also think it would be the smartest thing that Apple could ever do. In fact, the best other thing that they could do is make OS X work on PCs. Sure, they’d lose a few Mac sales, but make it up on software sales. If they announced one or the other this month, they could get a lot of the Vista sales, and a lot of the sales of new boxes with Vista on it.

Now, I’ll just have to buy an Intel Mac MacBook and try Crossover, which purports to do just what I predicted, but with an additional program, still without windows. Failing that, I’ll use Parallels, but will have to run Windows. [In case you’re wondering, I want to run Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 (which I maintain a separate Windows machine just to use) and Delorme’s Street Atlas. There are no comparable Mac programs. For everything else I’ve found, the Mac equivalents are far better.]

Update July, 2005: Got an Intel Mac (MacBook Pro) in May, tried Crossover and Parallels, which didn’t work properly with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. However, VMWare Fusion works like a charm with Windows XP and Dragon.  Parallels had all sorts of quirks with the USB headset and froze up constantly. Crossover wouldn’t work at all. With VMWare Fusion, it can now see my Plantronics Audio 500 headset perfectly, and the accuracy is well over 99% and getting better all the time.

It even works perfectly with my Olympus D-30 recorder, even in noisy environments like a car. I’m about to try it in an airplane. I can dictate on my daily walk, into a tiny recorder and have a new section of my new book, a blog post, article or whatever a few minutes after I get back.

The only problem is that I still have to use Windows. Now that I’ve been away from it for almost 2 years, I’m shocked by how amateurish it is. Also using Word 2007 to dictate into and I’m amazed at how bad the interface is. While there are a few minor improvements, they have further buried many of the most-used functions and won’t let them go on the custom bar. 5 clicks to change a template when it’s 2 clicks on the Mac version of 2004? What is with Microsoft? Their word of mouth gets worse and worse. Vista is almost totally rejected by sophisticated users. Their sales are on new machines. If Apple could come up with a way to seamlessly allow people to upgrade to OS X in their present machines, they would take over the market.

But it has to be seamless because fear trumps word of mouth, unless the word of mouth is addressing itself to the fear. But people can’t say yet that the conversion is easy for an ordinary, non-computer-savvy person to do. I don’t care how easy VMWare Fusion is, people need a simple way to switch, with Fusion built in and automatic conversion.

How can a product survive a review like this?

Extraordinary review of a new product by an acknowledged expert:

Pogue’s review of Zune

What an example of the kind of word of mouth no one wants to get for a new product!

So, how do you avoid such negative word of mouth?

Involve people like David Pogue as consultants from the beginning, so that you can build in features that reviewers will give positive reviews to. (He probably wouldn’t do it because of the conflict of interest, but there are other people who are just as astute and practical, just not such good writers!) But, I’m afraid that’s too superficial.

The truth is, you have to have the right philosophy, viewpoint, mindset, frame of mind – whatever you want to call it. Apple has a profound respect for the customer and an deep understanding of design. Apple understands the whole Decision Experience. That’s why the iPod isn’t just a player. It’s a whole system that makes all the decisions seamless, easy, simple and fun. Everything about the music experience is made easy, elegant, even beautiful: finding, tasting (trying), refining one’s tastes, acquiring, managing, playing, sorting, etc. (except for backing up and sharing).

Microsoft, on the other hand, has a profound understanding of cut-and-try: getting something out into the marketplace, then learning from the feedback how to gradually refine it. That’s why everyone is wary of Microsoft 1.0 anything. It’s OK if you are very early in a marketplace where no one has a product or no one has a good product, but everyone wants it. In other words, fine for wild innovators, which Microsoft has long-ago ceased to be. But against Apple???!!! Particularly iPod???!!!!!! No, I don’t think so. Microsoft just doesn’t get it — particularly doesn’t understand the overwhelming power of WOM.

I trust Apple to get it right the first time, then improve it. I don’t trust Microsoft to get it right until version 3.0 at least. That’s why I’ll unhesitatingly put Apple’s new operating system on my Mac, but wait for a long time (if ever) to put Vista on my Windows machines. (Written on a Mac by an ex-windows lover)

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

main website: blog:

A great example of product promotion

November 7, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  , , ,  |  No Comments

How’s this for a great product sample? It’s hilarious, but the reason I’m posting it is that it’s a great marketing example of giving out a sample in the hope it goes viral, I’m sure. As you probably know, I’m not a fan of gratuitous virality attempts, but I’m happy to participate in this one because the thing to be passed on is an actual part of the product instead of some video stunt that’s only tangentially associated with the product, just contributing buzz – otherwise known as noise – in non-word-of-mouth marketing circles.

Click on the link below, then click on the catalog (if you’re blocking Flash on websites, enable it for this site). Click on the lower right hand part of the cover of the catalog, and the pages turn, where you can sample pages from the parody catalog. A perfect way to sample, just waiting to go viral.

SkyMaul: The Catalog Parody by Kasper Hauser

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

main website:    blog:

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.

Word of mouth helps people separate the good from the crap

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my speeches and interviews is, “Don’t all the word-of-mouth tools, such as feeds, blogs, the proliferation of other web sites, etc. cause chaos? There is so much crap out there, how do people sort it out?”

It turns out that WOM is a self-improving system (much more about this concept in upcoming posts — subscribe to this feed, I think they’re going to be spectacular!!!) People become infomediaries, screeners, reviewers, etc. Tools are developed to help people sort, filter and evaluate information and sources. We are in the beginning of the Information Revolution — the means for creating and delivery have gone through the roof (word processing, voice dictation, digital cameras on the creation side, and the web, cell phones, ebooks, etc. on the delivery side). But the means to manage these have lagged. So, Google results flood us, but we haven’t developed sufficient means for sorting out all the hits.

We are now seeing – and will continue to see at an increasing rate until the problems are sufficiently solved – a great deal of energy put into the invention of information management systems, as distinct from creation and delivery systems. These are becoming spectacularly popular, such as digg and While they have been getting a lot of attention, I think their significance is underestimated.

I just stumbled upon a great one that I think will be the next very big hit: StumbleUpon

It’s an add-on to Firefox or Internet Explorer, and makes the switch from Safari to Firefox a no-brainer. It installs a toolbar and when you click on its Stumble button, it takes you to a website that fits your preferences, which you can continually adjust by rating the websites. The choices are uncannily interesting. It’s almost spooky. The selections are in your preferences (some of mine are marketing, magic, etc.) and they are the ones that are highest rated by other people. You can also rate web sites that you navigate to in the course of other browsing. It has built-in communities, ways of viewing other like-minded people’s selections, etc. It’s the most addicting thing I’ve found on the web in years: much better than digg and the others. It’s like having BoingBoing that is custom tailored to your interests. Beware, it’s highly addicting.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Interesting alternative views of word-of-mouth marketing

October 31, 2006 |  by  |  General  |  , ,  |  1 Comment

I have been so caught up in what I see as the nobility and purity of the word-of-mouth marketing movement that I’m shocked when people view word-of-mouth marketing as sleazy. I understand where they’re coming from and I sympathize with their strong condemnation of attempts to manipulate consumers, hype unworthy products and engage in a wide variety of other deceptive practices. But when someone as thoughtful as Jeff Jarvis weighs in on the side of the condemners, it’s time to weigh in. You can read what Jeff says, together with Andy Sernovitz’s and my answer here:

BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Your advice, please also here.

It seems to me that the main assumption underlying the criticism of word-of-mouth marketing is that any attempt to influence word of mouth is automatically bad. Word of mouth, in their view, should be organic and pure — and they’re right, at least about the pure part. I suspect that they are coming from a picture of shill marketing and other deceptive practices. As I’ve pointed out in “The Secrets of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing,” people react to any kind of manipulation or dishonesty in word of mouth much more strongly than dishonesty in advertising and salespeople. As well they should. Devious attempts to influence — manipulation — are expected of other forms of marketing. Salespeople and advertisers are expected to advocate their products in the best possible light. Lies by distortion, exaggeration and omission are expected and are reacted to with annoyed tolerance, not righteous indignation. Not whoppers, of course, but the over-enthusiasm of everyday advocacy. All of conventional marketing has a not-so-hidden agenda. I’m not excusing it’s inherent dishonesty; I’m just pointing out that we have a resigned and cynical tolerance, although we’re all increasingly tuning it out with a wide variety of tools.

Word of mouth is a different story. The whole idea of word-of-mouth is that trusted sources can be believed. Friends, colleagues and advisors are sacrosanct. Friends don’t lie to friends about product recommendations — maybe about the number and size of fish they caught, or about their sexual exploits — but not about recommending to friends what kinds of things are in their best interest. So, when people find out that their friends are recommending a product because they are getting an undisclosed commission, they are understandably outraged. They feel justifiably violated. The same thing is true about phony recommendations on Amazon, and all of the other sleazy word-of-mouth practices. Similarly, when people like Jeff Jarvis — who value journalistic integrity, truth, accuracy and transparency so highly — even contemplate the idea of word-of-mouth marketing, they see it as a vile oxymoron. the idea of a Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Association is even more hideous to them. They see devious and deceptive practices as poison in the pure and free marketplace of ideas, rightly so. Lies are lies, period. As Jeff points out, you only need one ethical principle in this area: Tell the Truth.

However, the critics have an accurate picture of only part of the truth. I would respectfully point out to them that a piece of the truth, when applied to the whole picture, can be a grotesque distortion — a lie. There are those of us for whom “honest marketing” is not an oxymoron, it is a redundancy. Word-of-mouth marketing, as distinct from word-of-mouth conning, is the art of making sure that products are so remarkable that people want to talk about them, getting out the word to influential people, and providing the means through which these influential people can spread the word. It is a profession that I am proud of. Millions of people are alive today and even larger numbers of people’s lives have been enhanced by the efforts of word-of-mouth marketers in the pharmaceutical industry alone. It’s not all about shill marketing and subservient chickens.

I thank Jeff and his readers for a much-needed reminder of the value of honesty and integrity, and of the need for everyone in the word-of-mouth marketing community and WOMMA to continue to fight deceptive practices.

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

WOM Lessons of Windows on Intel Mac

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, and 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,
until now.

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.

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

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

GM revises 2005 loss to $10.6 bln after charges – Mar. 16, 2006

GM revises 2005 loss to $10.6 bln after charges – Mar. 16, 2006:

GM revises ’05 loss $2 billion higher

The automaker says actual losses were $10.6 billion; company also says it will delay its annual report due to an accounting error.

March 16, 2006: 7:27 PM EST

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Corp. on Thursday revised its loss for 2005 to $10.6 billion, $2 billion more than initially reported, due to charges associated with its restructuring, the bankruptcy of its former subsidiary Delphi Corp. and its finance arm GMAC.

Over 10 Billion dollar loss last year! See what happens when you: don’t thrill the customer, engage in hype marketing and lose the WOM battle? See what happens when your top executives get a new car every few months and never have to get regular maintenance — let alone repairs — at a regular dealer? See what happens when what you experience is totally different from what your customer experiences?

See what happens when you follow Jack Trout’s advice and rely on advertising to tell your positioning story? You know, the one that no one listens to, or that no one believes?

George Silverman

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant

Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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

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 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.

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Word-of-mouth marketing, , WOMMA, , WOMM

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
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
, 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:

  • 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

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.

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

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
). 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

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

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
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth

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