Tag: word of mouth marketing

The WOM It Is

The WOM It Is

bruceonpiano3I like to think of myself as Bruce Hornsby Superfan #1, but I know it to not be true (that would be Si Twining of Bruuuce.com).  That being said, you can comfortably place me in the next tier of fandom down the line.  Through the years I have seen Bruce in many different type of configurations – solo, with an orchestra, with the Range, etc, but there is no party like seeing him with the Noisemakers.  This is why I happily schlepped to Red Bank, New Jersey to see the full band at the Count Basie Theater (site of my first live Steve Winwood at the tender age of 20) last week.  What struck me about the show was not just how musically remarkable it was, but how many best practices of word of mouth marketing the Noisemakers experience exemplifies.  Its part of the magic that makes folks like me come back show after show, year after year.  Here they are:

Co-Creation – 5 minutes after the theater doors opened, the stage was covered with cards, letters and notes with heartfelt requests of favorites, standards and covers for Bruce & the band.  He read some of the notes on stage and, while he jokingly responded to someone yelling an arcane request “we’ll play what we like”, he definitely made a point of letting the audience shape the show.  The fact that every show is different drives nerds like me to research setlists and hit multiple tourstops.

Transparency – There is no rockstar or even jazz virtuoso posturing.  Bruce chose to play the highly-requested Harbor Lights solo and explained that it was because the band hadn’t played it fully orchestrated in so long that they would be rusty.  He also apologized in advance for 1 tune that wasn’t good in sound check, but they needed to get used to playing it live (still sounded great).  And for the first time I’ve ever heard, he ended the show saying “I know times are tight and I really appreciate you all coming out”.

Surprises, Mashups, Inside Jokes – Bruce performed a live debut, played the dulcimer (which I had never seen him do), and pulled off a couple of song mashups that were headscratchers even for me.  The encore was technically 1 song – Mandolin Rain – but jammed through pieces of the lesser known Shadow Hand, Halcyon Days and the Dead song Black Muddy River for those hardcore fans hanging on every note.  Another little fun shoutout was a Sopranos nod with “Got Yourself a Gun” during an earlier tune.  Newcomers may not even notice, but there is an element of discovery makes repeat customers feel lke insiders.

Remember Your Roots – 10 – 15 years ago, Bruce regularly also had a live feature where he invited women on stage to dance to Rainbow’s Cadillac.  I even found a video of this happening at his show on millenium eve – memorable because the weight of the women broke the revolving stage (and yes, I was there).  Listen for the chorus of “Women are Smarter” in the song.   I hadn’t seen him do it in a while, and as the picture at the head of this post shows, he brought it back because “they finally got the stank back on it”.  That’s Bruce on top of the piano playing the accordian.   Another example of honoring roots is Bruce always playing The Way It Is, End of The Innocence, and Mandolin Rain.  This is that moment of recall for those who may be less familiar with his work and a chance for him to really push the envelope on how he twists and turns 20+ year old tunes.

Give it Away Now – If you love something set it free.  Bruce’s new record company has just put up a complete livestream of his new album – 5 weeks before release.  Will it stop me from buying the real thing?  Far from it.  It gets me excited now and has me making more concert plans.

All of the above principles give me a real, multidimensional story to tell about Bruce.  Are you feeding your customers’ hunger for conversational capital?

WOMM Lessons from Adam Corolla?

WOMM Lessons from Adam Corolla?

I’m hesitant to admit that I have learned anything from Adam “the Aceman” Corolla of Man Show, Loveline, and radio infamy.  However, stats don’t lie.  2 weeks after kicking off his podcast, Corolla has broken the 1M download barrier, quickly smoking download rates of his peers – like my hero Bill “the Sports Guy” Simmons. (Click here for specific podcast lessons from Ryan Spoon).

How did he do it?  Awesome website?  Nope – looks like an intern programmed it in 1999.  Advertising and promotion?  None.  Here’s what he’s done:

1) Ask people to spread the word. At the beginning and end of every one of the free podcasts, Adam mentions that he is doing this “gratis” and all he asks is for you the fan to spread it around.  This may sound simple, but many people are afraid to ask for help and this is a compelling reason to get over it and just ask.

2) No sponsors = no censors. Adam was fired from CBS’s Free FM format in late January, but will be paid through the end of the year as long as he doesn’t accept other “jobs”.  Thus he has no sponsors, which means he answers to no one and he can use the language and cover topics that his fans want and expect from him.

3) Ridiculously awesome content.  In his first three weeks he’s had Aisha Tyler, Larry Miller, Bill Simmons, Jimmy Kimmel, David Alan Grier are the list goes on.  These are people willing to stop by Adam’s house to promote a project and be able to be themselves without the concerns I mentioned on #2.

So, can we learn something about WOMM from Adam Corolla?  Hey, if Dr. Drew could live with him for so many years, he must have some redeeming qualities.

Amazon’s Investment in Customer Experience

Amazon’s Investment in Customer Experience

Amazon’s Jeff BezosThere was a great case study shared by Jeffery Eisenberg yesterday in his post “Should You Cancel All Your Advertising?”. In 2003, Jeff Bezos pulled all of Amazon’s advertising and chose to reinvest those dollars in deferring shipping charges for customers. This shows insight into the top potential objection to shopping online and directly combats it – if I can get the same item for less on Amazon AND not pay shipping, the only remaining reason to shop retail would be if I absolutely had to have something today. By giving shipping back to the customer, Amazon used great customer experience to generate great word of mouth. But, this does not come without a pricetag. In a recent presentation from Amazon’s CFO, forgone shipping revenue was estimated at a whopping $600Million for a single year.

To answer the question Eisenberg poses of whether or not other businesses should cancel their advertising to focus on word of mouth marketing alone, there are a few considerations:

1) Current Customer Experience – Why are people opting for your competition (be it another business or another channel) instead of you? Is that something you could correct by reinvesting marketing dollars?

2) Quality of Customer Stories – When folks do select your business, what kind of conversational capital are you providing them? Is it the kind of story they will want to shout from the mountaintop, tell a select few, or never think about mentioning again.

3) Awareness & Urgency – Does anyone know who you are? If the answer is no, it could take a long time to launch your business with absolutely no advertising. You would be relying on your immediate personal and business connections to get the word out.

If you do have a solid customer base who would be willing to tell your story more often if only you provided them with a better one, the reinvestment of marketing dollars into your customer experience might payoff just as much as Amazon’s did.

High End Hotels Reward with Experiences, not Clutter

High End Hotels Reward with Experiences, not Clutter

Travolta StarwoodThe Wall Street Journal recently featured a story about a California couple who traded in a whopping 124,000 Starwood Preferred points for the chance to accompany John Travolta to the premiere of Hairspray in New York. While not exactly my cup of tea, I can only imagine how much these folks are enjoying sharing stories and pictures from this experience (and how thrilled Starwood must be for the WSJ placement). Creating conversational capital for your customers is a high ROI investment.

At the WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas, Marc Priut, in speaking about his personal experiences spending his vacation following the band Sister Hazel, captured this phenomenon as “People don’t really want ‘things’ anymore. They want to ‘do.’ While all hotels provide a bed and shelter, hotels that inspire loyalty are the ones who provide experiences worth retelling. Sending top customers to a movie premiere definitely fits the “do” bill. At the beginning of the year, I wrote about Kimpton Hotels going above and beyond to solicit feedback and then shocking me by actually engaging in the specifics of my feedback. Kimpton never disappoints in providing me with a great experience in the moment and a great story to retell.

As with most business travelers, I don’t want to be rewarded with a t-shirt or other marketing clutter, but if you leave a copy of the New Yorker on the coffee table, remember me by name, or bring a goldfish to my room, I will remember that and tell someone. I have purchased a night at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco in DC as a gift for my father’s birthday on Thursday. It is my hope that while he is extremely hard to buy for in terms of “things”, this might start a tradition of cutting the clutter in my own life and providing family and friends with the gift of remarkable experiences instead.