Tag: WOM

Can Cupcake WOM Last?

Can Cupcake WOM Last?

While prowling my new Georgetown neighborhood for fashion finds this past weekend, I stumbled across a darling awning in the distance proclaiming “Georgetown Cupcake“. The cupcake phenomenon that has kept lines formed at Sprinkles in LA and Magnolia in NYC (immortalized in SNL’s Lazy Sunday) has officially reached my new corner of the world.

Georgetown Cupcake

I was technically out searching for a duvet cover, but thought a cupcake break might hit the spot so I crossed the street and noticed a sign on the door:

SOLD OUT – will reopen at 5

Hmm. They must be good if they’re sold out, right? I was so wiped from shopping that I sent my dear husband back at 5 to pick up a few. He found a line so long that he announced the only way he would have waited in it would have been if a private concert with U2 was on the other end. Foiled again.

Sunday, I returned with Blackberry in hand figuring I could read some email while waiting for a cupcake. About 20 minutes in, someone was deciding whether or not to wait and asked “Has anyone actually tasted these cupcakes?“. Only 1 line-waiter had and she assured us they were good, but she was going to try a different flavor this time. A few minutes later, a woman walked by, remarked on the line and said, “Oh! I think the founder was on Martha Stewart this week!” Martha knows cupcakes, right? This will totally be worth it. After waiting for FORTY MINUTES, the proprietors walked out to announce they were sold out again. WHAT?? ARE THE CUPCAKES MADE WITH JOHNNY DEPP’S TEARS OR SOMETHING?

During the week, while the touristas and 8 to 6ers like your humble blogette were safely out of cupcake distance, my husband snuck back to Georgetown Cupcake and procured these as a surprise:


They’re cute. They’re small. They’re cupcakes. Really, thought, the taste and form factor are not remarkable. What’s remarkable is THE LINE. I’d like to tell you that this type of WOM will fade once everyone tries them and realizes that they’re just OK cupcakes, but I can cite at least a dozen food based businesses all over the country as known for their lines than their food (ever visited Pepe’s or Sally’s in New Haven?).

I discussed this with Malcolm @ BzzAgent over lunch on Monday and he noted that we, as a culture, rarely have to wait in line these days. We can handle shopping, ticket purchases (source of my favorite line stories), post office and even many DMV duties virtually these days, so are we just a bunch of lost sheep searching for a line to stand in?

Now that I have had a Georgetown Cupcake, I will not be waiting in any 40 minute lines again. If anything, I am having dreams about turning my house into a cupcake bakery making over-sized cupcakes with unusual fillings in awesome gift boxes that I sell for $8 a pop. Given the nothing more than adequacy of their product, it will be interesting to see if the lines at Georgetown Cupcakes last…And if the Dean & Deluca across the street starts selling killer cupcakes to capitalize on the folks who wont wait in line.

Video Alone is NOT WOMM

Video Alone is NOT WOMM

Video alone is not Word of Mouth Marketing any more than the video of your kid’s first birthday is “viral”. Word of Mouth Marketing is a set of activities within a marketing objective that do the following:

  1. Provide a remarkable experience (in it’s literal “worthy of remark” sense)
  2. Facilitate sharing this experience – between customers, between the brand and customers, between communities, etc.

Video and video sites make video chunks of information very easy to share. The rub – and what determines whether or not a video becomes “viral” – is whether or not the video is remarkable enough to inspire sharing.

How do you become remarkable? You have to know your customers – listen to what they find remarkable now and note what topics make their radar. Then, examine your product/service/culture/offering etc and what potential sources of conversational capital you can own. After that, it’s all about making a great video, check out these guys or the Viral Video Artiste below.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/aXJVxmWTmkg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

If you do not start the world’s next viral sensation/Word of Mouth Marketing case study, what you have is not bad. Having rich, varied, positive multimedia content on your site and tagged on video sites is indeed a critical thing in our search-driven world. If you want to develop multimedia content in the hopes of generating conversations, make the first move not by talking, but listening. If you know what your customers are talking about, you will have a much better sense of how to create relevant videos, regardless of whether or not they show up on the Today Show.

Nau: Why They’re Fans

Nau: Why They’re Fans

While I am a fan of what Nau stands for, I thought it would be better to turn over Nau’s “Why I’m A Fan” post to the folks who wear the clothes and truly get it.

catch up ladyCatchUp Lady, whose post was my first exposure to Nau.

“I would definitely spend a weekend with the Nau brand. With so many companies “green washing” and merely paying lip service to corporate social responsibility it’s nice to see a company that actually IS doing no evil. I think a company like Nau that walks the walk really resonates with my generation – and I’ll bet we see more companies following their lead in the future. Plus, my cousin works for Nau (disclaimer!) and if I took a weekend out there I’d actually get to both experience a great brand AND spend time with family!”

Chris WojdaChris Wojda of the Incite Kitchen

In his nomination of Nau as a Brand Worthy of a Weeekend: Think Patagonia with a little more Patagonia sprinkled on top. Then add a strong twist of Calvin Klein and Armani design aesthetic… and there you have it. Masters at building a sense of community rather than a marketing campaign.

In response to the question “Why are you a fan?”: I’m a fan of Nau because the brand has a clear purpose beyond making money. In my opinion, every great brand has a double or triple bottom line philosophy. They don’t rely on positioning and image, they rely on having a shared purpose with a core group of consumers to sell who they are to the rest of the world…All that said, their style is great. They not only make clothes that will perform while outdoors (freedom of movement, wick away sweat, keep you dry, breathable), their clothes are also made to perform indoors or in an urban environment (designed so that you don’t always look like you just got back from summiting Mt. Hood).

What would you expect from a weekend with Nau? I would expect a time where work and play were one in the same. As with most passionate people, the group at Nau seems to be the type that doesn’t separate work and pleasure because the two totally bleed into each other for them. They would be completely sold out to their brand and cause and very talkative about it. I’d expect a lot of Stumptown coffee (that’s another brand you should explore), a lot of people riding their bikes to and from the office, and a lot of conversation about affairs that on the surface have not a thing to do with selling apparel. They get their inspiration from a lot of places and clearly don’t chase cool. I’d expect a lot of collaboration in their office which would have few walls, few conference rooms, but a lot of sketches, articles, photos, ads, and other shit scattered through-out as inspiration. I wouldn’t expect them to be very secretive as they are more interested in collaboration than competition.

Nau: Sustainable Business Grows Sustainable WOM

Nau: Sustainable Business Grows Sustainable WOM

2 months ago, I was unaware that Nau existed. This is not terribly surprising as I am not the target audience for “technical outdoor items”. What I am in the market for is examples of companies that are creating fans from the inside out and Nau was sent to me as a recommendation just as I was learning about it in other venues. Nau doesn’t just fit the bill of a Brand Worthy of a Weekend, they change the game. Worthiness didn’t just happen here – it is the basis of the company’s founding.

Nau.comNau – a Polynesian word of welcome and inclusion – was formed in 2004 by former executives from high end outdoor & lifestyle brands (Nike, Patagonia, Adidas to name a few). They came together to build a company that found “a better way” for every product and business process. Here are just some of the core elements:

Product: Nau sells technical outdoor items and casual sportswear that express their design philosophy of beauty, performance and sustainability. Nau has engineered 24 of the 32 fabrics used in their clothing to ensure that they are paying off on all elements of the philosophy. Nau uses recycled materials in fabrics as well as biopolymers (polyester-like materials made from agricultural sources) in order to grow the demand for such developments. One the most interesting is PLA (polylactic acid) is a synthetic made from corn instead of petroleum. But before you worry that these are the next gen of hemp clothes – take a look. These new fabrics have the same feel and look of virgin fabrics and don’t require sacrifices on design or style. Like the company, their clothes are also built to last – engineered for multiple uses, easy care, and subtle color choices to stay in style.

Participation: Instead of just giving a percentage of sales to charity (as Target and others do), Nau gives a whopping 5% of sales to a handpicked group of organziations fighting for environmental and social change (vs. just dealing with the consequences of programs). At the time of purchase either online or in one of Nau’s webfronts, customers can select which of the organizations will directly benefit from their purchase. It may seem like a small gesture, but by soliciting participation in this way, Nau is truly benefitting their “Partners for Change” with awareness and co-ownership of the customers who chose to support them.

Sustainability: There is a lot of talk about sustainability these days, but Nau lives it. From a remarkable headquarters that uses passive ventilation, recycled wood, and natural light and heat control to hiring external auditors to ensure the practices of their manufacturing, sustainability is baked into everything Nau does. Nau distributes their own products and, in addition to online sales, has 4 “webfront” stores to offer a place for customers to experience the brand and be able to try on clothes. Like all of Nau’s practices, they are designed for maximum efficiency and minimum impact. At a mere 2,200 sq feet on average, they carry very little stock (reduced shipping impact) and require little to heat and cool. They company buys wind and solar credits to offset the impact from the stores and headquarters operation. When you purchase an item at the webfront, you are offered a 10% discount if you do not take the item with you and have one like it shipped to you in recognition of the savings to the store for not having to carry lots of inventory.

Influencers: Nau recognizes the importance of influencers to the growth of their business and even boasts a “VP of Influencers” who hails from Nike. Influencers are seen as the face of Nau in the field and the representation of the company spirit. They identify 3 major communities that map to the elements of Nau’s brand identity: athletes (technical outdoor performance), artists (beauty of design), and activists (environmental and social change). Influencers have the ability to purchase Nau at a substantial discount, offer feedback on improving product performance, and participate in shaping the brand by blogging on the Nau site.

How does all this drive WOM? There is so much conversational capital here that it’s hard to know where to start, but when I asked folks in marketing at Nau how new customers find out about them, here is how they responded:

“The goal of most of our marketing & PR efforts (and, in part, our work with out Partners for Change) is to facilitate conversations around our products, our company, and our environmental and social mission. One small example: We don’t put logos on our clothing. If someone likes your coat and wants to know what you’re wearing, they have to ask. Our hope is that we have designed our product and our company to be interesting enough to spark discussion without us having to be too heavy-handed about it.”

As I mentioned at the top of this post, Nau raises the bar. Giving your customers something to talk about is difficult anough in this cluttered world, but doing it while being as subtle as the colors of Nau’s clothing line takes far more finesse.

Check back tomorrow where I’ll be sharing the words of some of Nau’s biggest fans and why they’d spend a weekend with these folks….