Topic: word of mouth

Twilight – Stephanie Meyers

NEW YORK - AUGUST 01:  Stephenie Meyer poses o...

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This is not a book review of Twilight by Stephanie Meyers.

Instead, it is a look at how a product can be so exceptional that the product takes on a life of its own.

I have not read Twilight.  I have read some of the things about Twilight on Stephanie Meyer’s Website.  But while I was in Denver to speak at a convention I happened to have CNN on and they showed the book, and all the raving fans of the book, and an interview with Stephanie Meyers.  The Twilight movie is coming soon.

I’d seen the books on display in the book store before, but never thought that vampire books would be appropriate for my 11 year old.

So long story short, after seeing the interview with the vampire book writer, I decided to get it from the library and see if my wife and daughter wanted to give it a try.

Stay with me here, there is a very strong marketing message coming

Now they both really liked Harry Potter and have read them multiple times. So since the interview mentioned a comparison I had high hopes I’d found another winner that they would really enjoy.  Oddly enough, with 1,000’s of books published every day, there are few that really stand out beyond decent entertainment.  One of my missions in life is to find them good books regularly, which is no easy task.

So I got the book from the library.   Within a day or two my wife picked it up and started browsing it, not sure if she wanted to read it.

She did not sleep that night and finished the Twilight in one sitting.  Within 3-4 days she’d finished all four books in the series.  Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.  One night she read because she was so upset with the book because of the decisions the one character, Bella, was making.

While my daughter did not read it in one sitting, she did finish it within 2 days.  And when I asked them if they were better than Harry Potter, they both agreed that yes, they were better.

This was nuts, I was thinking.

They read twilight and breaking dawn (their two favorites) over and over until the two weeks was up and we had to return them to the library.  Then, for one day they took a break and then on the second day my wife asked me to go to Walmart and buy them for her.

They’d already read them multiple times!

So I bought twilight and breaking dawn, and I am sure we will get the middle two at some point as well.

The marketing Message

I promised a marketing message and here it is.  I frequently say there is no trick, no secret formula, you just have to have a clear marketing strategy and keep doing it long enough and making adjustments.  Well I lied.  The secret formula is to make a product that is so exceptional and creates a strong emotional connection so that it generates the kind of raving fan base that these books are creating.

I hope Stephanie Meyers is very rich.  We paid much less for her books than we would to see a movie or go to an amusement part, and my wife and daughter have gotten an amazing number of hours of enjoyment reading, and rereading the books.  They will be in line on the first day to see the twilight movie coming out next month.

At some point I am going to read these books, not for the pure pleasure, but to study how it is written and understand how she used words to create such a compelling connection with the reader.  Twilight has the secret formula and it may be required reading for any marketer.

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Events and Word of Mouth

Last week I spent the entire week at a music festival.  I will leave it unnamed because overall I did like the event and intend to go next year again.

However, it was run by a bunch of music people, and it really needed a professional event coordinator to help with the big picture.  Here is the mistakes they made that you should not make if you are doing an event.

  1. Big Breaks – They scheduled big breaks in time, which were fine for the people staying in the hotel, but a nightmare for our family because we were an hour’s drive away, so it was better just to sit around and kill 3 or 4 hours.
  2. Too Much Information– I really needed one schedule that was specific to my needs.  Instead, there was too much information that left me confused.  I signed up for things I should not have, and missed other things because they were buried in blocks of text.
  3. Expensive Add-ons – It was not a cheap event, and to take a family of four to all the extras would have doubled the price.  I felt like I missed half the festival by not being willing to pay for all the extra stuff.
  4. Treat first time people differently – Clearly, the people that had done it before knew what was going on, knew each other and had a better time.  I talked to a lot of first-time people that were frustrated and not planning on coming back.  You really need to make sure your new people are taken care of so they will return.
  5. Website – Similar to#1, the combination of too much information on the website and too much information in various emails only made it confusing.  One new person said he combined three different emails into one spreadsheet for himself, only to arrive and find everything had been changed.
  6. The whole thing is a performance – There was a lot of complaining in the halls and general frustration on the part of some of the staff (all great people.)  You have to let the staff and volunteers know that from the first person arriving to the last person leaving, it is a performance.  Think Disney without the mouse.
  7. Lack of community – People complained that they were having trouble making connections and having their kids meet other kids.  One person said that he attended another festival that was magical. The other one had ice cream socials and a better commons area where people really got to know each other.

If you cannot do it, hire an event planner. 

While a meeting planner may have added $1,000’s to the cost, it would have made it more likely that they would have more repeat business the next year.  Plus, if people are impressed and buzzing, they are more likely to tell their friends.  If an event plannercan make those happen, it is going to really impact your long term success.

Mabel’s Labels Word of Mouth

I like what they are doing over there at Buzz Canuck.  A good example is the interview with Mabel’s Labels.  Tricia details the strange chain of events that lead to big sales and great word of mouth.

Are you creating LinkedIn LOVE?

Years ago, I worked at a university where we created an online community (before it was super easy) and used it to help students get to know each other before arriving at the school.  It was a big success but with some unexpected usages.  Students were using the site to plan parties and other kinds of activities.  The developers later started referring to it as the orgy board.

LinkedIn was developed to organize your network.  People you really know.  But by nature, some people like to connect with lots of people far and wide.  I see value in either option – having a strong network or having a broad network both have some great positives.

The trick to creating a broad network in LinkedIn is to have your email in your title and LION (Linked In Open Networker) also in your top portion.  These two things are an invitation to connect to strangers.  – See my profile

LinkedIn  could put a stop to this.  It is certainly not their intention, but why fight nature?  Wouldn’t people just find another way to hook up eventually?

Now, if you want people to pay attention to your invitations, write one that shows you took a real look at them.  Today I got this:


I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. I work in a buzz marketing agency in Italy, and I think that Buzzoodle is the bible of word of mouth :)


How could I not connect to Dario!?!?  That is how you spend 10 extra seconds and get a much bigger bang for your buck.

Are you setting achievable Buzz Marketing Goals?

I have worked with a lot of people that come to us and say, “I want buzz!”

Some succeed, and some fail.  Buzz itself is not an acceptable goal.  If you just know you want buzz, you are dooming your effort.  The success factor has little to do with buzz, and everything to do with understanding what a reasonable goal is in the first place.

So what are some examples of good buzz goals I have seen?

Goal:  Increase search engine saturation for our brand.

Goal:  Increase local word of mouth to pass a levy that is too close to call.

Goal: Increase website traffic by creating links and referrals.

Goal:  Establish our expertise over the next 24 months in the ______ industry.

Goal:  Generate 10% more referrals by facilitating word of mouth on the web.

Goal: Build an audience that wants to hear from us – add a minimum of 500 names per month.

Goal: CEO to be interviewed by 4 bloggers per month.

Now some examples of bad goals:

Bad Goal:  I want to create buzz to blow the sales off the roof.

Bad Goal:  I want to be #1 in Google for a general term.

Bad Goal:  I want to have a blog/myspace page/facebook profile because I read about it and I have to.

Bad Goal:  I want people to go into Walmart and demand that they carry my product.

The list goes on.

Here is the simple key:  It is great to have long term goals that are big, but your short term buzz efforts must be achievable steps to realizing those dreams, not the dream itself.  Focus on things that will interest your target audience and be valuable (and/or) easy to pass on.

Word of Mouth Blogs

I am sad I did not make this list, but here is a very good list of other Word of Mouth marketing Blogs.  All the obvious ones are there – and some I am rediscovering.

Thanks Buzz Canuck

Email Word of Mouth

Have you ever had someone recommend something to you via email?  Sometimes it is interesting, but not something you need right that minute.

 With all the good news about the power of Word of Mouth, one thing that I think has not previously gotten attention is the ability to archive Word of Mouth for future use.  I do this all the time.  I often remember who sent me an email that I knew would be useful one day, and I simply go back and search for it.

But there are many ways to store Word of Mouth referrals for future use.  Here are the ones I can unintentionally use.

  • Email Archives
  • Bookmarks
  • Blog Posts – If I think I want to share it.
  • iGoogle Link
  • Tumblr
  • To Do list in Microsoft Outlook
  • Forward email to my wife and expect her to remember for me.
  • Future to do item in my Treo
  • White Board behind my desk
  • Slips of paper I scatter about and review when I clean
  • Pass on the word of mouth and then later go back and ask that person if they remember what I told them.

And there are some that I do not do, but others do.

  • Extreme Note Taking - I want to buy some notebooks and give this a try.  I used to write in journals daily but the computer killed that habit.

It is worth considering these things.  We can measure inbound links, sales, inquiries, etc.  But how many times has your product been archived for future use?

Employee Evangelism – What would you call it?

I have a question for you today. 

I define Employee Evangelism as – creating an organizational culture where people know what is buzz-worthy about the organization and are encouraged to spread the word. 

 This could include Internet or word of mouth – depending on what is right for the organization and comfortable for the team member.

The problem with the words Employee Evangelism are:

  • Sounds too extreme and difficult
  • Has a religious overtone, even though the word Evangelism’s root is based on spreading good news.
  • Using the word employee is very us against them – When it should be about group benefit.

I have played with terms like

  1. Employee Advocates (Sounds too much like a union rep)
  2. Employee Ambassadors – this is used by Kodak to describe their efforts
  3. Team Buzz marketing – sounds cliche

What do you think?  Do you have a good name for this kind of effort?  One that appeals to the employee members and the management team that has to sell the cultural shift in the organization?

Anatomy of your Online Presence – Part 5: The Ear

The Ear:  This is part 5 of a 13 part series on anatomy of your online presence.

Anatomy Internet Marketing EarIt used to be that when you left the room and people started talking about you, you would never find out – unless someone else told you about it. Idle chatter was not documented and archived for your convenient review later on.

That has changed.  People are talking about you, and as you build a more robust online presence, they will talk about you event more.  Your ear is your ability to hear what is being said.

There are two types of communication to pay attention to. 

1) Messages directed at you
2) Messages about you but not intended for you

Direct Messages

Direct messages may seem obvious, but this is a big issue for many people.  Surf around a few blogs and look for basic contact information.  It is sometimes hard to find, and many times non-existent.  You must make it as easy to contact you as possible, and ideally through a variety of means.

Do you have an email clearly listed?  Your full name?  Your phone number?

If you are worried about SPAM, set up a free email account at one of the big search engines.  They do a good job of filtering out SPAM and that way you do not junk up your main email address.  Plus, if you change jobs later, your alternative email goes with you.

Other ways you can let people communicate with you:

  • Skype
  • Comments on your website/blog
  • Forms for specific requests
  • Mailing Address
  • Instant Messaging

I do not use all of these, because they can interrupt your day if you get contacted all the time.  However, if you are using them already, why not publicize the additional ways people can reach you?

Indirect Chatter

Now it is time to open the can of worms.  What are people saying about you, but not to you?

It is an incredibly good thing if there is a lot of positive chatter online about you.  This means you are being noticed and being talked about.  This is one of the ways marketing experts measure word of mouth, which is an important factor in your success.

Here is a list of tools that will help you see what is being said.

Google Alerts – This great tool will email you a list of new things said about you each day.  You can monitor your name, your company name, products and general industry terms you care about.  The more specific and unique your name, the more effective this is at sending you only relevant stuff.

Google Advanced Search – Did you know you can use the advanced search features of Google and see only new pages where your keyword appears?  Click here to see new talk about Buzzoodle in the last week.

To do that, you just go to, choose advanced search and set the date range.

Technorati and Google Blog Search – Both of these sites are excellent for just looking at blogs, which is where you are going to find a lot more idle chatter about you.

Reporting – Another way I frequently find out people have linked to me is keeping an ear on my stats package.  Whatever good traffic tracking you are using will have a referring site report, and if someone links to you, it will show up in your stats the first time someone clicks one of those links.

Keeping your ears open will help you hear what people are saying, where they are saying it and who is saying it.  With this information you can fan the flame of positive discussion, address the issues around negative comments and feel good about the progress your online presences is making.

Read the rest of 13 part series on anatomy of your online presence.

[tags]Buzz Marketing, Internet Marketing, Branding [/tags]

Employee Evangelism – Post by Andy Sernovitz

Andy Sernovitz - The former head of WOMMA and a great advocate for word of mouth, has a post about Employee Evangelism that you will want to check out.  It is a little simple in treating everyone the same – something I used to think as well.  However, it is a good an interesting post.

Instead of treating everyone equally, identify which people are the most enthusiastic – regardless of title – and work to make them super advocates.

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