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« Packaging for retail | Main | Great post on the wienie »

Why word of mouth doesn't happen

Sometimes, what you do is done as well as it can be done. It's a service that people truly love, or a product they can't live without. You're doing everything right, but it's not remarkable, at least not in the sense of "worth making a remark about."

What's up with that?

Here's a smörgåsbord of reasons:

  1. It's embarrassing to talk about. That's why VD screening, no matter how well done, rarely turns into a viral [ahem] success.
  2. There's no easy way to bring it up. This is similar to number 1, but involves opportunity. It's easy to bring up, "hey, where'd you get that ring tone?" because the ring tone just interrupted everyone. It's a lot harder to bring up the fact that you just got a massage.
  3. It might not feel cutting edge enough for your crowd. So, it's not the thing that's embarrassing, it's the fact they you just found out about it. Don't bring up your brand new Tivo with your friends from MIT. They'll sneer at you.
  4. On a related front, it might feel too popular to profitably sneeze about. Sometimes bloggers hesitate to post on a popular source or topic because they worry they'll seem lazy.
  5. You might like the exclusivity. If you have no trouble getting into a great restaurant or a wonderful club, perhaps you won't tell the masses because you're selfish...
  6. You might want to keep worlds from colliding. Some kids, for example, like the idea of being the only kid from their school at the summer camp they go to. They get to have two personalities, be two people, keep things separate.
  7. You might feel manipulated. Plenty of hip kids were happy to talk about Converse, but once big, bad Nike got involved, it felt different. Almost like they were being used.
  8. You might worry about your taste. Recommending a wine really strongly takes guts, because maybe, just maybe, your friends will hate the wine and think you tasteless.
  9. There are probably ten other big reasons, but they all lead to the same conclusions:

First, understand that people talk about you (or not talk about you) because of how it makes them feel, not how it makes you feel.

Second, if you're going to build a business around word of mouth, better not have these things working against you.

Third, if you do, it may be a smart strategy to work directly to overcome them. That probably means changing the fundamental DNA of your experience and the story you tell to your users. "If you like us, tell your friends," might feel like a fine start, but it's certainly not going to get you there.

What will change the game is actually changing the game. Changing the experience of talking about you so fundamentally that people will choose to do it.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Why word of mouth doesn't happen:

» Not getting any . . . from The Mission Paradox Blog
Word of Mouth advertising? Seth Godin helps to explain why [Read More]

» Talking about mortgages: too boring? too personal? from Quicken Loans Blog - THE DIFF
Christy Brewer broaches the subject of why mortgages can be difficult to talk about. Or boring. It takes a ton of details to share your great mortgage experience, and that can expose too much about yourself, or bore others to death. [Read More]

» Why word of mouth doesn't happen from bizdig.com
Sometimes, what you do is done as well as it can be done. It's a service that people truly love, or a product they can't live without. You're doing everything right, but it's not remarkable, at least not in the sense of "worth making a remark about." [Read More]

» Feel the Client's Pain from bizsolutionsplus Featuring Solutions to Grow Your Business
Author's Note: This post ran last week at the Daily Fix, but for my readers who did not see it there, I thought it worth re-posting and sharing. We've all been there. In fact, I just visited this place of client frustration and fear a few days ago. It ... [Read More]

» Word of Mouth from Intersection Small Business Marketing Blog
By Mark SmiciklasWord of mouth (WOM) is an elusive form of marketing that has the ability to either build or erode your small business brand. What are some of the characteristics of WOM as a communication medium that make it... [Read More]

» Seth Explains Why, When, Word of Mouth Won't Happen from Zane Safrit
As usual, Seth Godin has a great post: Why Word of Mouth Doesn't Happen. He lists 9 reasons. The first is fairly descriptive. And at the end he adds this: First, understand that people talk about you (or not talk [Read More]

« Packaging for retail | Main | Great post on the wienie »