10 Questions to Develop Word of Mouth

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John Moore of Brand Autopsy reports from Word of Mouth Marketing Summit (wish I could’ve gone!) a great summary of questions to ask before any marketing campaign — written by Emanual Rosen, author of Anatomy of Buzz.

See John’s posting of Emanuel’s 10 Questions Marketing Should Ask Before Implementing the Next Campaign. Some suggestions may not be applicable for every company or every situation. Here are my top 3 picks:

1. Does the product lend itself to WOM?
Is the product remarkable?

Great to see this #1. Why are boring-looking sites popular, such as craigslist.org, vrbo.com, and tripadvisor.com? Because they work well — which leads to repeat use and word of mouth (typically the #1 driver of web traffic).

Consider a product P&L (complete lifecycle). A portion of the cost (capitalized) goes into product development. A portion goes to ongoing promotion and support of that product. Perhaps the decision on how much that goes into each of these buckets is made in silos based on previous products or benchmarks. Imagine if a greater amount were spent on product development. A great product requires less demand generation and support costs.

A startup CEO once asked me how he should budget for his product (a web site). I suggested he get to know the customer tasks and personas very well, get a creative product development guy with A+ UI expertise, and build a great IT team who can build a flexible platform for rapid phased development. If that costs more than he planned, take it out of the demand generation budget.

Good reference books for developing a ‘word worthy’ products are Purple Cow by Seth Godin, Rules for Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki and Focus by Al Ries.

2. Are we reinforcing the concept and the message behind the product?
Are we implementing stunts to grab fleeting attention? Or are we implementing meaningful and compelling activities that are captivating?

"Captivating" is a key word here. Books have been and can still be written about what is ‘captivating’. But the words above this — ‘stunts’ and ‘fleeting’ — tell you what is not captivating. The essence marketing should deliver emotion, vulnerability, and truth.

6. Are we making it easy for customers to spread the word?
What simple mechanisms are we giving customers to tell others about the product/service?

Here’s a tip — Just as important if you have word of mouth, find out HOW your customers speak about your product. The words you use on your site, press releases and brochures are probably not the words they use. However, what you say about products (substantiated claims, truth) and how you say them (with authenticity, emotion, entertainment, vulnerability) will help encourage WOM in their own words.

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