Word of Mouth Marketing ? Why Millenialls and Marketeers get it wrong.

word of mouth word of mouth marketing influencer marketing

People in marketing use the following words interchangeably with bad results – Advocates, Champions, Fans, Influencers buzzers – they aren’t the same and it’s not semantics, getting it wrong we’ve seen countless times and it costs companies money.

A couple of examples will help.

We were engaged by a family business, it was 50 years old and had a proud history of making giant hammers that went onto the back of tractors, the machine effectively wacked wooden posts into the ground for wire fences. The company manufactured  in New Zealand, it had won the right to be “By Appointment” to the Queen of England, exported to USA (Texas) and Australia.

A raft of factors had left the company in a rapidly declining sales spin, personal factors for the Founder but also fundamental misperceptions about what the market wanted.

The same was true for a French multi-national operating in Australasia, their orange juice category was in decline or faltering. Since the category had been the foundation for this drinks company, it was not only financially challenging but it went to the cultural heart of the organisation, “we’ve got to fix what we were great at…” the soul of the company was being ripped out of itself.

Two companies worlds apart, one selling an agricultural product for around 10,000 US dollars (starting price) another juice for 3 dollars.

What did we do? We went on a safari to find the true Advocates of the organisation(s), in the case of the farming CEO, we took him pig hunting in the New Zealand wilderness where he met his hard core Advocates who he’d lost connection with. These are rugged guys who get up at 4.30am run 20km/h, then go and fence rough mountainous country for 10 hours and run at the end of the day, they used social media a lot for researching things but weren’t interested in Facebook or SM channels.

A far cry, you’d think, from the affluent Mums who bought orange juice for their kids…Or so the company thought.

In fact the true Advocates of the agricultural company were nothing like the owner thought, even thought he’d been close to his market and the Advocates of the juice category were nothing like they’d thought either.

The mental images of the so-called “Orange juice Advocate” being healthy, wealthy and young were nothing like the reality, the reality was juice was a treat for people on lower incomes, there were more of these kinds of Advocate than the ‘stereotypical’ ones. The same was true with the agricultural company, in fact, as we travelled across the nation, the mental image of the lone contractor putting fence posts in was nothing like the emerging Advocate who was a well to do farmer.

What I can tell you is this, people driving your Word of Mouth probably aren’t who you think they are – oh yes you’ll have data on who buys the most but you’re looking at the wrong thing.

In 20 years of consulting in this area we can tell you the people who talk about you the most, often they don’t buy much of your brand, product or service and you can’t pick it up from Google Analytics, you’ve got to learn how to map Word of Mouth streams to find who will truly change things.

We turned around the fortunes of both companies. Despite the companies insisting that they “knew their customer”, “knew their target” and producing data to support it, this is what we find.

The target market who buy a lot aren’t the same as your Brand Advocates and social media metrics can be misleading – a short-cut to stereotypes that are plain wrong. Why? Chatter on-line is only 20% of the conversation about a brand, product or service, yet marketeers treat it like it’s gospel. That 20% is often biassed to Millenialls so the result is that you get double bias 

1. Bias towards digital which does not reflect the 80%

2. Bias towards the 20% heavy mobile users who tend to be more biassed towards under 30.

That’s bad maths – extrapolating from a minority and it's the reason why so much social media and digital marketing is becoming less effective. People feel stalked on-line and the targetting is often way off~!!  If you want to learn how to get it right e-mail caseyalan@me.com code word, WOMBLE.



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About the author

Jake Pearce

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"Different to get better results". Jake is obsessed with marketing ROI. He helps companies amplify word of mouth to get business more easily. He uses Meanomathics to boost Comms cut through 10-30%. He uses co-creation to future proof innovation - he turned around a drinks category providing 15% growth using professional co-creation. And he helps top CEO and celebrities with their personal branding and brand purpose, which links back to Word of Mouth marketing. 

Worked with Vodafone,Kellogg'sMcDonalds,ANZ,McDonalds,Suntory,Danone,HSBC,Barclays,BAT,Meat Brands,Saatchi&Saatchi,Draft FCB,Fairbrother Industries, Les Mills, Holmes Place, Grey and a host of digital start-ups.

Jake Pearce is a specialist in brand planning, development & innovation. Jake is currently working on a Word of Mouth Marketing start-up, a personal branding start-up and new delivery systems for wellness products. 

www.jakepearce.com - for brand development and innovation

www.womtwo.com - for word of mouth marketing expertise


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