If people don’t like your company, they’re not going to buy from you.
In a new study by my old employer, Weber Shandwick, 69% of participants aid they frequently or regularly discuss how they fell about a product they bought. 70% said they avoid buying a product if they don’t like the company that makes it. And, no surprise, 88% said that word of mouth is still most influences their opinion of a company.
Good brand positioning should be easy to talk about, especially since word of mouth remains the most effective marketing principle.
Many of these brand positionings exist and don’t need to be overly “created” — just ask a couple of straightforward questions and tune into what people knowledgeable about the brand say. Yet many marketers ignore these conversational jewels, instead creating starched, politically correct and bland positioning statements that people rarely use in conversations.
Here are a couple of good examples.
Before a recent talk at Fisher College I asked an instructor two simple questions: “Why do people come here? What’s the appeal?”
He didn’t even have to pause before answering: “It’s like a good community college but the students get much more attention and hand holding here.” How interesting.
I asked similar questions at University of Massachusetts and got great though “off the record” answers that I use in explaining the university when the topic of colleges comes up with friends. (Talk about colleges dominates the conversations of parents of teenagers at social gatherings.)
University of Massachusetts Lowell is like a MIT-light, a great science and technology education with very successful alumni but at a state school’s lower tuition. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is like a small, private New England liberal arts college. Good programs, lovely campus by the sea.
What I especially liked was that the explanations were grounded in meaning making: they explained the brand in context of the category and then said what’s different and relevant. Meaning sticks, where buzz and traditional marketing materials usually do not.
Over at the School of Thought blog Andrea Jarrell explains that the best school marketing publications “intrigue, inform, and entertain.” Amen. And the best positioning statements do the same — and are “talkable.”
The secret to word of mouth marketing is to create products people love to talk about. Here’s an example from Deborah Kracht of Art Head Studio. I’ve bought a bunch of her note cards and magnets for holiday gifts — especially for friends who need a little inspirational push for 2009. Let’s all fly on this rocket next year.
Here are a few of items from my guest blogging duties today over at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association blog.
wowOwow on crisis communications and much more
How to respond when your reputation is under attack? Writing in the fabulous new online community wowOwow, Leslie Stahl offers this advice: “The best way to respond when your reputation has been sullied is to get real LOUD. Go on offense with a noisy, unrelenting, niggling, persistent, bellicose warrior’s attack. If you’re swinging and kicking, that’s what people will see (and the press will cover). And the besmirching of you will fade like an old scar.”
Check out more from wowOwow, now in beta, and featuring conversations among cool women celebrity professionals like Candice Bergen, Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Juliet Buck, Peggy Noon, Joni Evans and Lesley Stahl.
Measuring online community success
Generating word of mouth is the reason many organizations start online communities, but they find much more additional value once the community has been up and running, like lots of new ideas from the community members. That’s an early finding of a new industry study on measuring online community effectiveness. To share your experiences — and get a free copy of the results in April, check out www.communityeffectiveness.com
Rude is rude, enough is enough
Some of the biggest buzz this week was around the audience heckling during Mark Zuckerman’s keynote at SXSW in Austin. A big round of applause to Michael Rudin for his post about the event over at Marketing Profs, “Enough is enough. It’s time that we as a community — especially the A-listers who get quoted everywhere as so-called “experts” — stand up and call it like it actually was: rude and unacceptable.” Go Michael.
PS: Beyond Buzz + Made To Stick honored
One other highlight of the week: Beyond Buzz was selected one of the best business books of 2007 by Library Journal. Beyond Buzz and Made To Stick by Dan and Chip Heath were the editors’ top picks for marketing and branding books. Nothing like a little award news to jump-start the weekend. Enjoy all.