Showing posts with label word of mouth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label word of mouth. Show all posts

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Global Chief Forecasts Communications Trends

Don't try to control the conversation, be prepared for never ending PR campaigns and acknowledge the  consumer is king.

That's what IABC Global Chair Robin McCasland advises leaders confronted by an ever-changing communications landscape.  

During her recent leadership tour of Asia, Robin briefed government communications chiefs in Canberra on trends in international communications. 

Speaking in a government town a few of Robin's observations run counter to traditional government models.  

For example while surveys routinely show public trust in government and corporate leaders is falling, administrations still put forward only the top echelons of officialdom who it comes to advocating policy to the public. 

Robin forecasts that in future, smart organisations will empower their employees to share the communications load and deal directly with citizens, consumers or clients particularly through social media.   Workers already know the issues and are the buffer between the community and their own hierarchy.  The time is coming when clever leaders will look at  workers not only for what they do, but how they can evangelise the corporate brand. 

The Global Chair also touched on the growing importance of peer opinions in decision-making, illustrating this with a personal example. When an  online dress buying experience turned sour, Robin took to social media to alert her friends to her dissatisfaction   Someone with Robin's global profile must have significant networks, so after the offending company learned of her displeasure they were quick to fix the problem.  
Which proves that while communicators can labour long and hard to present a persuasive case, often it's the conversations we have within our own circle that really decide how we act and the results we get. 



Monday, February 6, 2012

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth may be the oldest form of marketing yet encouraging others to share your information with their family, friends and workmates remains the most effective and least expensive form of promotion. 

In this podcast listen in as we talk about how topics, talkers, tools, time and tracking combine to form the five pillars of an effective word of mouth campaign.

Until mid March we will post a new episode each week in our Not For Profit PR podcast series.

Automatically get the next edition by subscribing in the email box to the right.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not For Profit PR Podcast: PR Must Be In Your DNA

This second episode in our Not For Profit PR series explores why planning must be in the DNA of every not for profit.

It talks about planning and the importance of communications objectives, understanding your audiences and crafting convincing messages.

North American broadcaster Wayne Kelly and I finish by outlining three effective marketing strategies that cost less than $500 a year.

(Automatically get the next episode by filling in the email subscription box to the right.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Great Word Of Mouth Starts With Great Topics

Effective word of mouth marketing needs topics, talkers, tools, time and tracking.  But perhaps the critical start point is your topic.  

Want word of mouth to work for you? Then give people something to talk about. 

A complex or boring message rarely works so when you step out in public your topics must spark interest and cause conversations.  And that only comes about because they are new, different or useful to your audience.  

Your messages must be simple and uncluttered otherwise people beyond your organisation will not understand them and struggle to tell others when they connect with them over the phone, on-line or face to face.

True, your first topic could be about what your organisation does.  But you need to build on this with new, relevant and engaging conversations that are reflect the  value your organisation brings.  People will not share stale or repetitive content so your marketing imperative is to continually refresh, reinvent and represent your information. 

Stories make great topics.  While most of us have little time to be marketed to, we will make time to hear a story. These could be stories about achievements, who you helped or better still those generated by supporters willing to craft and pass on their personal testaments to others (user generated content.)  

A great word of mouth campaign requires simple topics people can relate to and willingly share.  And generally these have one of two key ingredients humans respond to: humour and emotion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Say It Loud

I have just started using Audio Boo, a new social media application that allows you to share audio files via the Internet.

Audioboo is an application for recording and sharing your voice with the world. The free version allows you to create audio up to 5 minutes in length and post that to an account on the web. You can add titles, tags, geolocation info and a photo to the recording before you upload it and all that will be saved with the file.

I recently "did a boo" especially for people who attended one of our workshops. A sort of enhanced word of mouth.   Listen here

Audioboo could be a good way to go if the people you need to reach, prefer to listen rather than read information.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Technology Reducing Face to Face Communications?

A recent US survey of 1000 people found that technology is reducing face to face communications. But it seems personal communications remains the best way to engage people when the going gets tough.

Read Shel Holz's blogpost at

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pick Up The Phone And Share PR

Next time you need to communicate with a dispersed audience, don't forget the humble telephone.

A tele-conference call is a great way to pass highly relevant information to an individual or very specific group of people at the same time.

This past week, as part of a national PR campaign, we hosted PR teleconferences for not for profit groups around the country. We dealt with around 20 community groups around Australia that had recently received a Commonwealth Government grant for grass roots community relations programs.

The tele-workshops were set up to share thoughts on how these organisations could raise community awareness about the important work they plan to do.

The workshops covered media relations, social media and word of mouth marketing and explored how local not for profits could use these three strategies. People representing six to eight organisations took part in each 60 minute call. Keeping the numbers small made for an intimate atmosphere where people could raise issues and offer their thoughts on what works for volunteers and what doesn't.

To provide a focus for discussion we circulated a slide package highlighting key PR and marketing points before each tele-conference. People on the call either printed it off or followed it through their computer.

We conducted six sessions and received very positive feedback. We also found that after some minor technical problems (which Optus promptly fixed) the tele-conferences were easy to set up and manage.

In tight times when funds are limited, the telephone and speaker remain handy and cheap tools that people in different parts of the country can use to share thoughts on PR and marketing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Recession Proof Your Marketing and PR

We are living through a perilous economic period with lots of talk about budget cuts and job losses. It is a troubling time for communicators facing cuts in their PR budgets and job losses. If you are a corporate, government or not for profit communicator invariably your marketing and PR efforts are under sustained and serious challenge.

It would be nice to able to apply a marketing template and come up with an answer for the future. But we are in unprecedented times. We can only determine the way forward by reviewing the lessons of the past, understanding the changing environment we find ourselves in and applying all our skills, experience and intuition to the current situation. And of course we will all need a little luck.

Let me share some personal thoughts as you set out on the road ahead.

Firstly strip away all the high blown definitions of marketing and PR. Marketing and PR is about talking to your customers, clients or community and helping them meet their needs. Whether you are in a down time or a boom time you can only achieve real results through having a continuing conversation with these people.

Cease the conversation and you cease the relationship

So rule #1 in difficult circumstances is keep the conversation going. US studies dating back to the 1970s show companies that continue to market during tough periods increase their sales not only during the downturn but for up to two years afterwards.

When people slash marketing budgets they are effectively abandoning the conversation with the people that matter most. They leave behind a vacuum which organisations with more active communications often step in and fill.

Marketing in tough times is akin to the effort required by cyclists in the
annual Tour de France road race. At the start every competitor is fresh and ready to win. But as the race enters its mountainous stretches, the individual who puts in the greatest and most sustained uphill effort often sets himself up to win the race.

But while you should continue to communicate it can never be a blind effort. Now more than ever is the time to be strategic and to move forward with serious and sustained intent. This means:
  • Marketing to a simple, well thought plan and not acting on impulse or being paralyzed by fear.
  • Keeping whatever marketing and PR efforts you can in-house. Only bring in outside expertise for absolutely essential tasks you cannot do yourself. Now is the time to skill up your team in those PR and marketing jobs which in better times you may have outsourced.
  • Replacing high cost marketing activities with more accountable options such as structured word of mouth marketing, referral and alliance marketing, direct mail and communicating through digital media. These may be less glamorous than glitzy events, glossy publications and the glories of TV advertising but in the end they are likely to prove more sustainable and will certainly be less expensive.
  • Measuring all your outreach efforts so you can accurately calculate the return on investment (ROI) for each marketing tool you use. Starting now you need hard data to make conscious, well thought out decisions about where your effort and money (now both in short supply) should go.
And above all recognise that consumers, citizens and communities are in the process of redefining their concepts of value. Smaller wallets and lighter purses may mean they hold off longer on new purchases and they are more prone to negotiate. But when they do decide to act, they will be looking for a balance of price, reliability, performance and a sense of safety and confidence in the goods and services they purchase.

So if your marketing has gone missing in action during the recession, there's little hope of convincing them you are the one to meet these fundamental needs.

Without doubt organisations will need guts and persistence to hold their marketing nerve and continue to communicate. But the quality and level of your marketing now could well determine if your organisation makes it to the other side of this recession.

Monday, December 22, 2008

PR Tips For Not For Profits in Tough Times #2

Thanks to all of you who contributed ideas to our call for low budget PR ideas for not for profits facing tough times. We got a great response through Facebook, email, in conversations over coffee and of course through this blog.

We have put together a 19 page PDF report which brings together all these great suggestions.

I'll be sending it out to those contributors for whom I have contact details.

Email if you would like a copy and put the word Report in the subject line of your email.

Again thanks for your thoughts and good luck to the marketing efforts of all community groups in the coming year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Psst...What Do People Say About You?

What do people say about you?

When your name comes up in conversation do people talk with respect or do they trash your brand?

We all want positive word of mouth about our products, services, issues or causes. Yet the irony is few Australian organizations use word of mouth marketing as part of their marketing mix?

That’s why you should read Andy Sernovitz’s new book Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking.

Word of mouth marketing has been around forever, beginning when people first saw the value in sharing information and warning others about risky situations.

Word of mouth is about genuine conversations where people exchange ideas, criticisms and endorsements. And it is becoming increasingly important given the tsunami of invasive advertising hitting us each day. Sernovitz argues ‘traditional marketing is no longer the safe way to go. It may make you comfortable but it is becoming gradually less and less effective for more and more companies.'

Organic word of mouth is the range of genuine conversations people have among themselves each day. They share information on what to buy, what to wear, where to work and countless other topics with friends, family, classmates, workmates and team mates. Organisations can encourage organic word of mouth by providing quality services, listening to people and responding to their issues and continually freshening conversations by bringing in new programs, products, faster turn around times, etc.

Organisations use amplified word of mouth when they deliberately set out to create positive talk about their products or services. This often involves seeking out people with influence with the specific intent of inviting them to start conversations within their networks. And organizations can accelerate this type of word of mouth by moving it online where, through a keyboard or mobile device they can engage either individuals or specific groups.

Amplified word of mouth marketing can also be encouraged by creating online communities where people swap ideas and experiences, encouraging others to promote what you do and using advertising or media coverage to strategically prime the pump and start conversations.

Andy Sernovitz’s book details the topics, talkers, tools and tracking needed to make word of mouth succeed. It is a must read for those of us on limited budgets looking to communicate with impact.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Word of Mouth Marketing Part 2: Message Multipliers

In an information-overloaded world many of us increasingly turn to people we respect for information, advice and to help us make sense of the world.

We seek out these key influencers because they have particular skills, knowledge, experience or just wise way of looking at things. They often are at the centre of community, business, or social networks so if they support what you do, they can help you connect with people you might otherwise struggle to reach.

These ‘message multipliers’ are important whether you are in business, work in government or belong to a community group. Their value to you lies in the fact they can:
  • Give their personal credibility to your information within their networks.
  • Pass along your information in language their people understand.
  • Help you frame your issue so it makes more sense for people they know.
  • Allow you to include your information in their events, newsletters, websites etc.
You can identify key influencers among or through:
  • Your best customers.
  • Key professions associated with your cause.
  • Business and community organisations.
  • Local governments.
  • Local media.
  • Leaders of local school and parish committees, service clubs and sporting clubs.
  • Teachers and academics associated with your issue.
Even in this digital age personal contact remains the best way to approach key influencers. Invariably they are busy people and time poor but will appreciate meeting face to face.

At your initial meeting (unless they are already committed customers) your only job is to show how what you do will benefit the people they know. After all their credibility depends on the value of information they pass along to others.

Convince key influencers to support your issue and you pass a critical milestone in generating successful word of mouth marketing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Word of Mouth Marketing Part 1: The Zen of Word of Mouth

"The idea of word of mouth is very Zen. You put the idea out there, let it go and if people like and trust you they will spread the word." Variety Magazine 21 July 2005.

This is the first in a series of posts on word of mouth marketing (WOM) following interest generated at Canberra's first word of mouth marketing workshop.

Today WOM is more important than ever because we are increasingly weary with advertising and cynical about how the media report events. Word of mouth stands out because it is about genuine conversations between real people. That makes it the cheapest and most effective promotion an organisation can have.

The span of word of mouth is spreading. Traditionally it involved face to face encounters. You talking to me. Now new digital technologies have put WOM on steroids making our on-line conversations just as important as our off-line efforts.

Whatever the arena effective word of mouth marketing needs six key elements to work:
  • Make sure your organisation and its issue, cause, product or service have integrity and offer value. People will only spread positive word of mouth when they believe in something. So provide something worthwhile to talk about and remember word of mouth will always punish poor performance and those who lack integrity.
  • Be clear about who you want reach because WOM is all about people and their networks. Know who and where they are.
  • Identify, recruit and maintain relationships with people who can help you connect with your audiences. Often called 'key influencers', these individuals lend you their language, contacts and credibility when they carry your information into their networks.
  • Provide key influencers with simple messages, stories and pass-on tools so it is easy for them to spread the word about you. Constantly refresh your conversation with these people.
  • Use as many channels as possible to keep the conversation going. Create continual 'buzz' through face to face meetings, speaking to groups, inviting people to events and going on-line to either create your conversations or join in with others. Perhaps it is better to start with a few communications channels you are confident will work and then expand your repertoire as you see results.
  • Track the results of your conversations by encouraging feedback and using on-line and other tracking tools.
At the end of the day marketing is about doing the right thing by your customers, clients or fellow citizens and encouraging them to talk about you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Canberra's First Word of Mouth Marketing Workshop

On 30 August we're running Canberra's first word of mouth marketing workshop for not for profits.

We have been steadily watching the rise and rise of word of mouth marketing in recent times and we tip it will become even more important in future. The reasons are simple:
  • After 50 plus years of day in day out marketing, people are weary and leery of advertising. For example when was the last time you saw, read or heard an ad that you can recall with any kind of accuracy? And more importantly when was the last time an ad motivated you to go out and buy something?
  • Word of mouth marketing is genuine communications. It is about people sharing information, experiences and feelings. We all have an innate desire to share good news with family, friends and workmates and warn them away from negative issues or bad products. Word of mouth is our information passed within our circle at our pace. And it removes the the middle men from our communications.
  • Digital media has made it possible to carry word of mouth endorsements and opinions to mass audiences and to individuals fast and cheap.
Our workshop is geared for not for profit organisations and it's already over-subscribed with representatives from 10 organisations attending.

It will be a good way to share experiences and explore how community groups can use this increasingly important marketing medium to advance their causes.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Word Of Mouth Marketing: Slow to Catch on in Australia

Everyone wants people talking positively about their product, program, issue or cause.

Yet amazingly few Australian organisations deliberately set out to include word of mouth marketing in their communications mix.

That’s surprising. Because word of mouth – receiving information from a trusted source – is the strongest form of marketing. We are more inclined to listen to family, friends or workmates when they urge us to do something, rather than be influenced by glossy brochures, slick advertising or sophisticated sales techniques.

Given the cynicism surrounding mass media and high powered advertising, there is renewed interest in word of mouth marketing which, let’s face it, has been around since caveman days.

We are now seeing an upsurge of interest in the US with the notable example being the work of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. But there does not seem to be as much buzz on word of mouth in Australia – apart from discussions on social media which too often focus on technology and forget the people using it. A 2005 PRIA article by Jonathan Carson lamented this situation and frankly I don't see much has changed since then.

Which is a shame because the effectiveness of a successful word of mouth marketing program lies in its simplicity. Word of mouth works when there are three fundamental elements present:

  • A good product or service. People will only pass on information about a product or service to others if they have confidence in it. Word of mouth will reward good behaviour with referrals but will always punish poor performance.

  • People who can help spread your word. Sometimes called key influencers, connectors or champions, these are people who will share your information with others in their networks - if they are convinced of the integrity of your offer. Key steps in this type of marketing are identifying these key influencers, getting them on board, giving them pass on tools that make it easy for them to spread your information and then acknowledging their efforts when they help your cause.

  • Simple information. Word of mouth needs simple but memorable stories to succeed in conversation networks. Complex or bureaucratic language may look good on paper but it’s unlikely to work when people are sharing information face to face.

Word of mouth marketing is credible, cheap and fast which makes it an attractive option for big and small organisations. But marketers and others need to plan for it rather than just wishing for it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tupperware goes digital

Remember the Tupperware party? The direct marketing experience that introduced millions of households to the iconic plastic containers used for food storage.

The concept was brilliantly simple. Invite a housewife to host a party for her friends, and at the same time present the latest range of Tupperware products for inspection. Everyone was a winner. The hostess received prizes for her efforts. Friends got the opportunity to see the latest in kitchenware and the company put its products directly in front of customers in a relaxed, social atmosphere.

Now a US company is running a new version of these parties for corporate clients. House Party invites people across the USA to host parties for their families, friends and workmates, at which Ford Motor Company, Hersheys, the History Channel and others put their latest offerings directly to prospective customers.

The company’s Gerber baby food video shows how on-line technology is bringing Tupperware’s proven experiential and word of mouth marketing model into the digital age.

Who do you trust?

When it comes to news who do you trust?

The March 2008 edition of Tactics, the Public Relations Society of America newspaper, reports that research in 2007 by PR agency, Golin Harris, shows word of mouth and personal experience are the most trusted sources of information for many Americans.

And that mainstream media scores “lower in terms of accuracy, truthfulness and honesty than dedicated on-line media channels".

The article suggests this shift in trust from mass media to personal and on-line experiences means communicators should:

  • Look for opportunities to provide direct experiences to audiences.
  • Seek to create memorable moments that cause people to talk.
  • Reach out to engage 'key influencers' - people willing to share information in their social and other networks.
  • Use a variety of communications platforms and experiences rather than just relying on traditional mass media.

Research consistently shows word of mouth is free, credible and fast. That makes it the most powerful marketing channel an organization can use. That's why not for profit groups and others with limited marketing budgets should consider factoring word of mouth into their next marketing or PR plan.