KTVB Features Justin Foster
December 22, 2010
Above is a clip from my appearance last week on KTVB’s Noon News with Carolyn Holly. My topic was the “Myths of Word-of-Mouth”.
Here are the myths:
1) Myth: Word-of-Mouth is a tactic. A tactic is something you execute or do. Examples in marketing: media buy, creative, web, etc. All things you do. As such, WOM is NOT a tactic. It’s not something you do; it’s something you are. Of course, there are steps and processes to generate WOM, but WOM is not something you can buy.
2) Myth: Word-of-Mouth doesn’t cost money. This may sound like a conflict with #1, so here’s what I mean: It may not cost money to BUY word-of-mouth, but it certainly can cost money to CREATE it. The time, money, and energy that goes in to creating an interesting product or service is all part of the cost of WOM. That said, paying to be interesting can a lot less expense and for more sustainable than paying for attention. A portion of cost can also go towards grassroots marketing, creating sampling, conducting surveys, etc.
3) Myth: Word-of-Mouth means you don’t need to advertise. WOM is often positioned as the opposite of advertising. In reality, they are two separate issues. In many cases, brands need to use advertising to create interest, perception, behavior, etc. Boring brands need to pay more to make this happen. WOM-driven brands can still use advertising - often to further enhance a competitive advantage. These brands use advertising to “fan the flames” of excitement. Think Apple, Southwest, or Harley. They aren’t creating awareness, they are further stirring existing buzz.
I mentioned an ancient and timeless rule in the piece:
Being interesting = creating stories = generating word-of-mouth.
So if you wish you had more WOM and don’t, see the first part of the formula.
If you think you are interesting, but aren’t generating stories then either you are probably not interesting - or you are doing a poor job of capturing and re-telling stories.
If indeed you are interesting, then use your marketing dollars to tell and create stories - and it will create even more WOM!