Posts Tagged ‘Word of Mouth’

“In a world where all products are increasingly the same, marketers have to appeal not to consumers rational decision making processes, but to their emotional ones. No stronger emotion exists than the need to belong” Douglas Atkin The Culting of Brands

In late 2010 I ranked the UK’s leading brands by how effective they were at marshalling a brand movement. I did this by measuring how active their advocates were – how often their  advocates recommended them to others. We then studied the top performing brands and  found that they displayed four key characteristics that we concluded are necessary to create a vibrant brand movement.

1. A Cause.

At the heart of any brand movement is a cause. This is the belief system that an audience buy into and champion. These belief systems tend not to appeal to everyone, but for some they create an intense sense of belonging.

Lifebouy soap is a great example of a brand cause. How do you create a great sense of belonging, amongst mums, around a bar of soap? Unilever’s solution, noting that hygiene standards in the third world was the primary cause of child deaths, was to develop the cause of helping to halve these deaths in the world. What mum wouldn’t want to support a cause like this.

2. Communities

Around the cause, successful brand movements foster, build and support vibrant communities. On and offline they encourage regular contact between members, develop shared experiences, co-create agendas, build their own symbols and most importantly actively encourage peer to peer recruitment. Kelloggs do this well with Special K

There are four different community segments that influence brand movements – Personal (friends,family, work colleagues), Expert (doctors etc.), Social (Mumsnet, Woman Institute), Media (newspapers, magazines etc.). These can be easily measured for impact and influence to identify those who will deliver the greatest return.

3. Contagious Stories

Research has shown that stories stick better than facts and figures. If you were raising money for children in Africa, a real boys story would raise twice as much as the cold facts and figures behind any plight. Leaders of brand movements need to become expert storytellers, sugar coating their messages with stories that will get retold. Great stories have a structure and many blue chip organisations use this as a framework for their external communications.

4. Campaigning

Movements die if they are not constantly fuelled by new thinking and disruptive content. Our 24/7 world has increased the ‘wear out’ of brand ideas ten fold since the dawn of the internet. A great multi million pound advert today, can be viewed a million times on Youtube tomorrow and then forgotten by next week. Unless it starts a conversation,that is further fuelled and re-energised, the movement will wither and die. Brands today need to campaign for their Cause, taking the threads of conversations that appear  each day in Newspapers, on Facebook or around the Coffee machine and inject their point of view. As Seth Godin says, if you stand still you become invisible. It’s why many brands today are setting up campaign teams, editorial teams and newsrooms.

Movements are the future of brands. Bain & Associates have proven this conclusively with their Net promoter Score measure. The challenge for marketing and communication managers today is to mastermind the creation and maintenance of these movements. The 4C’s provides a framework to support this.

4C’s Copyright Richard Moss 2012


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Who cares if your customers say they will recommend your brand… if they never get round to doing so. Realising the potential of advocacy requires active advocates, but can you influence this? This was the question we set out to answer in our research project ‘Leading by recommendation’. We studied 120 brands in the UK and 4000 customers. We found significant differences in activation levels between brands in the same sectors. We also found striking similarities in the way these brands approached their marketing. We distilled these findings into a model, the 4C’s of advocacy activation. A model which can be applied to build advocacy, build activation and build the momentum of brands.
View more presentations from Wordofmoss

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An interesting question is raised by the Times this morning in an article about the Richard and Judy Book club. The club was started as part of their C4 TV show, but now apparently is being relaunched in a solo deal with the book sellers W H Smiths.

The article claims that to get recommended by the club, authors need to pay W H Smiths up to £25k. In return it seems they get not only a recommendation, but a best seller (the first book they recommended by a debut author, went straight into the best sellers list).

The above may clearly show the effectiveness of advocacy but is it really ethical?

I have a simple belief here….as long as Richard/Judy have total editorial control i.e. they make the recommendations, it’s fine. The fact that W H Smiths then go to the authors and request monies to get this recommendation promoted and sold, is simply commercial sense.

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We had a family outing to the Cinema yesterday to see Avatar, the first film Directed by James Cameron since Titanic and on track to gross more than £1 billion in box office receipts (one of only five films ever).

“It’s an amazing film. If you see one film this holiday go and see this one”. “It’s brilliant, I’m honestly going to find time to see it again” Not my words, but the words of my brother-in-law and then my sister.

I must admit, I hadn’t heard of the film until this point (I know, I must have been on planet Mars). His enthusiasm did make me think I should. When my sister then spontaneously spoke about it on New Years Day, I knew I just had to book tickets there and then. We saw the film the following day.

It’s and interesting example of the additive effect of word of mouth advocacy. Clearly in the case of films it takes two positive endorsements to get me into a Cinema seat. But, how many does it take to get someone to change a mobile phone brand, change their choice of beer or open up a new bank account? Even more interesting … how do you stimulate this effect when you don’t have James Cameron directing your output?

More on all of this in 2010, the year of Brand Advocacy…and clearly of Avatar too!

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Watched Haye slay Valuev (dubbed David versus Goliath) last night on Sky+HD to take the world heavyweight boxing title. What a fantastic example of speed and agility winning over brute power. Throughly enjoyable.

As I sat there I must admit I wished I’d invited a few friends over to watch the fight with me. Sky are offering an incentive for people to do this at the moment and in turn help promote their HD services. Choose a complimentary movie, invite friends over and they will give you a £10 M&S voucher.

It’s a fantastic example of a brand mobilising its advocates. Existing customers and the HD experience itself have got to be the most effective way for Sky to promote its services – much more effective than relying on the traditional Goliath of  TV Advertising.

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Global trust in advertising has increased according to a new report into trust and engagement launched by Nielsen Research this month. Unfortunately not as much as the trust we have in each other to provide us with unbiased product reviews!

The research indicated that globally 90% of repondents said they trust people somewhat/completely up from 78% in 2007. This compared to 61% for TV advertising (up from 56%) over the same time period.

Views about whether you should trust advertising seem split. In Europe, only 49% said they trust advertising somewhat/completely with 51% saying they don’t trust it much at all. Further evidence if needed that every brand should have an advocacy strategy in place today.

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I loved this case study in Emanuel Rosens new book, Anatomy of Buzz Revisited.
He writes about a case in Canada where they attempted to reduce the level of unnecessary Cesarean sections taking place. Guidelines were issued and most physicians said they would change their practices, but figures showed they didn’t. Researchers then identified key individuals (network hubs) and invited them to a workshop to discuss the issue. Following this they asked the attendees to do a little bit of marketing on the issue to their colleagues.
The vaginal birthrate in cases handled by physicians who were educated by the opinion leaders was 85 percent higher than elsewhere. Fantastic.

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