Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CMNU914: Special Topics in Organizational Communication Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication

Welcome to the class blog for CMNU914: Special Topics in Organizational Communication Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication!

In this class, students will learn about the word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing industry through readings of popular press books and academic journal articles, guest lectures from leading industry figures, analysis of existing word-of-mouth, buzz and viral marketing campaigns, analysis of key companies operating in the word-of-mouth space, and learning industry best practices in designing, executing, and measuring organizationally-facilitated attempts to manage word-of-mouth and consumer generated media.

Please feel free to look through some of the prior posts from the last time this course was offered (Summer I, 2006). Also, be sure to check this blog in the future for updates about the class.

If you are a Northeastern student who would like to register for this class, please use the following course registration information:

CMNU914: Special Topics in Organizational Communication, Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication

Spring 2007
Key Number 000656
Sequence D (TF 9:50 - 11:30am)


Friday, July 07, 2006

CMNU914: We Made It!

We made it!

We survived what may have been the first academic class specifically devoted to Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication (and the brutally intensive, 7-week, 4-days-a-week, 100-minutes-per-session term).

I want to thank all of the students who made this class very special. I know there was a lot of work involved but I've heard from many of you that you found it very rewarding.

I'd also like to thank the companies and amazing individuals who contributed case studies for us to evaluate and their time to talk with each of the student groups:

- Brains on Fire -- Geno Church and Spike Jones
- BzzAgent -- Matt McGlinn
- Church of the Customer -- Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell
- Matchstick -- Matthew Stradiotto
- M80 -- Joe Muran and Dave Neupert

I'd also like to thank our incredible guest speakers, who not only were insightful, but saved the students from just having me in the classroom every day. They are:

- Steve Curran from Pod Design
- Brad Fay from The Keller Fay Group
- Brian Kenny, Alyssa Meritt, and Ann Comer from Northeastern University's Office of Marketing and Communications
- Jim Nail from Cymfony
- Dave Balter from BzzAgent

I would also like to thank the folks from Northeastern University's Office of Marketing and Communications for participating as clients: Brian Kenny, Ann Comer, Alyssa Meritt, and Bianca Whitworth (from NU Athletics).

Finally I'd like to thank my research assistant, Jenn Oles, for her wonderful assistance with the class.

And here are some things I'm taking away from this class and will consider as I teach in again in January 2007 ("Spring" 2007):

- Keep the main projects. Students loved analyzing an actual WOM marketing program and then designing their own. Many commented how they felt empowered that the clients took what they had to say so seriously. Students definitely rose to the occasion!

- Students really enjoyed the guest speakers and the practical experience they had in the industry. It also gave them a good sense of the different career options available to them. They found some speakers and topics more dynamic than others, but always learned something, even if it was what they didn't want to do.

- Students liked the flow and the sequencing of topics. The only exception was that they wondered whether we needed a special class on WOM ethics since we discussed ethical issues all the way throughout the term in the context of different kinds of WOM programs. Their point wasn't that ethics wasn't important, but just that by the time we got to the "ethics" class it was repetitive with material we had already discussed.

- Tone down the readings. There wasn't enough time to get to them all and some of them were repetitive (in an unproductive way). I was able to learn specifically which readings were the most helpful and which were less so, so I'll be able to adjust accordingly the next time around.

- Keep the class blog and continue to require students to post, but don't require so many comments. Also, build in check points for when students should have the blog entries completed by.

- Although we didn't get a lot of outside people commenting on the content of the class blog I did learn that people are reading it. When I go to presentations I'm pleasantly surpirsed when I hear that people are indeed reading it and that they enjoy what the students are thinking about and what we are discussing in class.

- Do more with the Word-of-Mouth Episode and reflection essay (where students reflected on their own word-of-mouth episodes throughout the term). Discuss this earlier in the class and make it more of a diary where students can look back over all of their WOM episodes as they look for patterns (this time around I had students enter them into an online survey but they didn't have access to what they recorded once they submitted the survey).

- They loved the room environment, so be sure to schedule the class in Behrakis again!

- I learned how to incorporate student suggestions from my teaching into my research and thinking about the industry.

- I learned more about Johnny Cupcakes than I care to admit!

- But the most important thing I'm taking away is that students felt they were a part of a new and emerging industry and that they could make valuable contributions to it. I think they sensed my energy, excitement, and passion, as well as those from our guest speakers, and they fed off of it and made it their own.

Thanks again to everyone for an amazing class. I can't wait to teach it again next Spring and make it better than ever!


Monday, June 26, 2006

Looking Back

So, the semester is now over. With the exception of writing final papers, exams, blog posts, etc., of course. I figured I would take this time to reflect on the experience I have had in this class over the last seven weeks, which by the way, has gone by exceptionally quickly.

This class was certainly among the most unique I took in my time here at Northeastern, being the only 'Special Topic' Class I ever took in our department. The unique and ground-breaking nature of the topic combined with Dr. Carl's enthusiasm for the subject matter definitely made it a very valuable learning experience. Among the most valuable highlights to my learning experience in this class were:
  • The Evaluating Organized WOM Marketing Campaign Assignment: This assignment, which was essentially a very interactive case study, gave our class the opportunity to not only closely study a real-life firm and campaign, but also interact with the professionals in the field who actually designed and implemented the program. For example, in our group's case, M80's Joe Muran was very accessible, helpful, and excited about helping us with our project.
  • The Developing Organized WOM Marketing Campaign Assignment: This task provided our class with the opportunity to develop a real program for a real client. As far as I'm concerned this is an incredibly valuable learning experience that is so often unique to Northeastern. Combining this type of real-world learning experience with a room full of co-op veterans creates a great opportunity for us to all really put our heads together and develop the best possible product for the client.
Wrapping up, these were just two of the bigger examples of why I found this to be an extremely valuable class. Combining that with some of the suggestions that were generated in class today will make this class (and others like it) some of the best learning experiences for NU students into the future.



--> So what does one do in the face of a deadline? Well, in my case, I've decided to reflect on the experiences we have shared as members of this class. Hopefully this post will be valueable despite the stink of procrastination. Here we go...

I'd like to begin by saying that I have truly enjoyed our lectures, readings, and projects. Despite the large workload and truncated semester, I think this has been an incredibly valueable experience. Here is a taste of what I liked best:

-Lectures: Always well-organized, well thought-out, and accesible. Very well done to Dr. Carl and Jen.

-Readings: A lot of them were lengthy, but the content was almost always useful for my own understanding of class topics.

-Projects: The most useful aspect of the course by far. I haven't had more beneficial and applicable work in any of my classes so far.

-Discsussions: The in-class perspectives offered were almost always insightful, with Dr. Carl directing our comments in a way that always led us back to the major topic at hand.

And now for the negative:

-Semester length: We've all said it--this class needs to be offered during a full semester so students can get everything we need to out of materials. Despite this, I think we all managed to come away with new information we can use during our careers.

-There should be more discussion of (and research regarding) the potential WOM has to foster change outside of the consumer products sphere.

I don't really have much more to say about improvements. For a new course about an emerging topic, I think it was very well put together and I know that I gained some very valuable experience. I personally plan on looking into WOM as school ends and the career world approaches.

Thanks again to Dr. Carl and Jen for a great experience. I hope that everyone in class got as much out of our time together as I did, and I hope that other in the field take note of the fact that this topic is one that should be taught in any marketing or communications-focused curriculum. I'm just glad that we got to do it first.

Geico In The Know

After reading Bek's post on Geico car insurance I took a look at the various commericial links and I have to say that I don't agree with Bek's analysis of the Geico commercials. Furthermore, to answer Bek's final questions on whether Geico doesn't understand WOM or if they simply choose not to use it I would have to say neither. I believe that they fully understand WOM concepts and use them in a way that is both creative and innovative.

The first commercial Bek discusses where the Gecko explains that people trust advertising icons but wouldn't trust "some bloke" telling them to check out Geico does seem to go against WOM practices that we have discussed in class. However, after watching the commercial a few times I realized that he wasn't talking about some person on the street talking about Geico, it is talking about how people don't trust traditional TV advertisment personalities but do "trust" or at least pay attention to major icons which would be buzz marketing. Geico differentiates themselves by useing a gecko instead. Geico is not claiming that people don't trust their fellow consumers they are clearly and correctly identifying that people are loosing faith in mainstream advertising and Geico's solution to this is to address it and use viral marketing (the gecko and humerous ads) to combat this problem.

The second commercial Bek talks about for example with the Gecko and the Lizzard. I can understand how this commercial could be viewed as stealth marketing as the Gecko is telling the lizzard what to say when telling people about word of mouth. However, the lizzard is not a hired individual who is physically going out into the world and telling people these great points about Geico insurance. In my opinion this is an ingenious use of WOM. Geico makes use of both Viral Marketing and Grassroot Marketing. The commercial itself is Viral markeing because of its creative nature it gets people talking about it. Furthermore, instead of being stealth marketing the information the Gecko is telling the Lizzard could be used by customer evagelists to spread the word about Geico's insurance.
The third commercial Bek refers to talks about exclusivity. Bek states that by allowing anyone to go to Geico and get a free quote is not exclusivity as the gecko suggests. However, although anyone can go to Geico to get a free quote the exclusivity the Gecko is refering to is that once you go to get a free quote you become part of an exclusive club to save money on your car insurance. Although Geico does not make access to its quotes exclusive, they claim that being part of the Geico group gives you access to exclusive low rates. In my opinion Geico is making great use of the exclusivity principle in that they are not limiting access but they are limiting their low rates to their members only.

Another way Geico uses WOM is through product seeding. I recently registered a new car and not a week later I received in the mail a mock Geico insurance card with my name and the number to call for a free quote. By mailing out info to new car owners they are reaching the individuals with the highest propensity to purchase or at least look into their product.

Bek made some great observations and Geico is a prime example of a company that makes use of WOMM. In my opinion they fully understand WOMM principles and leverage them in a way that is both entertaining and creative.

Last Class : (

Our very last class has now concluded, and I thought it an apt (and necessary, ha, oops) time to reflect in total on what the class has done for me specifically. We talked today about what went well, what didn't, what we learned, and what we found most interesting. I obviously learned a ton about everything word-of-mouth: terminology, metrics, ethics, influentials (or the lack there of), social networks, WOM firms, case studies, blogging, program types, benefits, costs, etc, etc, the list goes on and on.

But I think one of the most interesting things that I took out of the class, was my new found respect and interest in pursuing a career (or at least an internship) in the field of consulting. I had always had a negative view of the profession as I had heard from past and present consultants that it can be rather soul-selling. I understand this a bit more now, but not in a negative light. I understand now how much work goes into consultation projects, how many of your own ideas, your own thoughts, and your own passion. But this does not intimidate me so much. I really like the idea of being able to put so much of yourself and your creativity into your work.

I suppose I'm being a bit sentimental right now, the stress of this class being over and all, and I imagine those in the class that were also taking consultation skills at the same time this semester might have a few things to say to this. But I'm open to it, interested in fact. This class was so interesting to me outright, perhaps that is why I enjoyed the DWOM project as much as I did.

Regardless, if my hypothetical illustrious career in consulting doesn't pan out, I still found this class to be a gem in Northeasterns Communications Department.


Taking it to the Next Level

One of the major principles of WOM is the freedom. In the first class consumers’ need for greater contro was identified as one of the reasons WOM is so hot right now. And it is with this in mind that I write my last blog for the term.
Dr. Carl said that he would post the top three responses to our WOM episode surveys(pdf). Well, in the spirit of this freedom, I am going to post my blog post about the WOM episodes here. Yes, it is not as official as if Dr. Carl had posted it with his approval, but that is a key part of WOM: even people who are not in control of the traditional establishment get a voice. Other people’s responses may have been more thought provoking, but that is another aspect of WOM: idiots get the same right to speak as the informed. So without further ado, here is my blog on my word of mouth episodes:

Throughout the semester, we were tasked with documenting three WOM episodes that we experienced. We would fill out a short survey (with both quantitative and qualitative components) about the episodes. At the end, we are to write a summary of our findings. These were our only real parameters.
The first thing I noticed was the diversity of the conditions surrounding the episodes. One episode was with my best friend at a restaurant, but another was with the man working the register at IHOP. It would be difficult to get a wider emotional difference between two people. I had an episode happen in the afternoon, one at dinner, and one at 3 am, so clearly there is also diversity in the times where these episodes take place. I guess the key take away point from all of this is that WOM episodes can happen anywhere, with anyone, at anytime.
There was one common tie between the three episodes: all three did occur in places of business, so maybe I am more likely to discuss products and services in such a setting.
Another finding was that my episodes were very short. When talking to strangers or acquaintances, the episode only lasted for a minute or two. When talking to my best friend, the episode was longer, about five minutes. However, when you take into account that the entire conversation I had with him was about an hour, the 5 minutes we spent talking about Al Gore’s new movie is really a small period time. So the second take-away point is that WOM episodes seem to be short.
My third observation was a bit more meta. While trying to make observations about my three documented episodes, I had trouble. I realized that it is difficult to generalize one’s WOM behavior by three specific episodes. I estimated that I have 25 WOM episodes a day, so analyzing only three over seven weeks is a very small sample. Dr. Carl explained to me that we were only to use these as a starting point, but I still see a problem with this. It is likely that we focus on WOM episodes that make us seem cool and knowledgeable, and ignore those when someone else made us feel unhip or uninformed. This is a major problem with the self-report approach. I think it is dangerous to summarize one’s WOM interactions based on just three episodes.

WOMM: Ethics and Normative Potential

--> As our class moves towards its close, I find myself reflecting on one of the most recent topics we've discussed. Specifically, I'm talking about the ethical concerns voiced by critics like Kate Kay in her piece "Sales Pitch Society II" and others regarding what the corporate world's move towards WOMM means for all of us. The commodification of everyday interactions is an interesting topic of discussion, and it's certainly useful for authors like Kay to play the devil's advocate with any new type of consumer-oriented media. We've also learned about the importance of transparency in maintaining ethically-sound campaigns. I don't think that one could argue against the idea of corporate colonization into everyday life, but it seems clear that WOM (if conduted in an ethical manner) actually has strong potential to undermine the daunting influence of corporations. Furthermore, WOM could be the beginning of the end of an era in which companies spouted marketing messages and products from on-high to be gobbled up by we lowly consumers (think about the difference between a product-seeding campaign and those rediculous and kitchy ads sponsors used to run during programs in the 50s).

There can be no doubt that certain unscrupulous individuals in the business and marketing world will use WOMM in ways that the community at large finds unethical. The beautiful thing about WOM, however, is that it can account for just such a problem--these very companies who practice WOMM in a less-than-ideal way can expect to be held accountable by a public that has obviously grown weary of advertising ploys. What's more, however, is that unlike traditional advertising, WOM has so much potential to fulfill the normative possibilites inherent in peer-to-peer interaction, and (I would argue), of a democratic society as a whole.

Let's look at the basics: the very idea behind WOM is that consumers send messages to one another with little or (hopefully) no direct influence from the company in question. This takes out the source of useless ad-related information that is so pervasive today (namely the company or their ad agency). Moving on, it follows then that the product/service itself is what merits organic word of mouth and the much sought-after high Net Promotor Score. If we, as consumers, take steps to eliminate those companies who engage in unethical WOMM, all we'll be left with is essentially products to judge for ourselves. Those who produce good products at reasonable prices will succeed, and those that don't will fail. The question is begged: As WOM becomes more pervasive, will the general public get just as sick of it as they are of tradtional advertising methods? I would argue that this scenario will not play out like some critics have suggested. Of course, it's up to the industry to ensure that unethical practices don't allow this to happen, but the fact that consumers can theoretically determine (for themselves) what constitues a good product should keep WOMM from suffering this unceremonious fate.

I'd like to take the discussion one step further. What is the potential of WOM in fostering real normative change beyond the world of consumer goods? Will we ever be able to infiltrate the political world with messages about progressive social change? How can we identify "influencers" in the area of (for instance) socio-economic development? I beleive that word-of-mouth's empowering nature lends itself to applications for the greater good of society. We all know that we need, lets say, an alternative fuel source. One day, the oil reserves of the world will run dry and the atmosphere will be even thicker with greenhouse gases. The principles of word-of-mouth should be leveraged to increase awareness and activism around issues like this. I'd love to see a WOMM campaign spurring youth activism, or concern for the environment, or more public attention to the problems of the developing world. The list goes on.

If we can find a way to make WOM work towards remedying some legitimate societal ills, I'm willing to bet that some of the ethical concerns voiced by critics will be put to rest. Here's hoping.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


TrueMajority was founded by Ben Cohen, Co-founder, Ben and Jerry's. It is a grassroots education and advocacy project of Priorities, Inc., a non-profit, non-partisan, tax-deductible, 501(c)(3) corporation.

One of the few organizations I really admire, TrueMajority has my basic human interest at heart. I can’t help but spread the word for this truly amazing grassroots movment

Their 10 Principles
1. Attack poverty and world hunger as if our life depends on it. It does.
2. Champion the rights of every child, woman & man.
3. End our obstructionism to the world's treaties.
4. Reduce our dependence on oil and lead the world to an age of renewable energy.
5. Close the book on the Cold War and ease the nuclear nightmare.
6. Renounce Star Wars and the militarization of space.
7. Make globalization work for, not against, working people.
8. Ensure equal treatment under law for all.
9. Get money out of politics.
10. Close the gap between rich and poor kids at home.

They also have some great viral flash videos that really demonstrate, in an easy to understand format, the problems facing our country. If you trust in these principals and “oreos” then join and take action


Wikimedia Foundation Inc.

As many of you know Wikipedia is an amazing place to spend hours clicking through windows learning about topics ranging from Internet protocols to where Metroid Prime comes from. Then the question hit me… What is a Wiki?

Where did I go to find the answer? Wikipedia of course and they define a Wiki as:

A wiki (IPA: [ˈwiː.kiː] or [ˈwɪ.kiː] [1]) is a type of website that allows users to add, remove, or otherwise edit and change all content very quickly and easily, sometimes without the need for registration.

This is just another way the web is truly becoming a two-way medium allowing people from all walks of life share their expertise. Wikimedia is a non-profit corporation founded in 2003 their goals are “to maintain and develop free-content, wiki-based projects and to provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge”


He May Be Able To Talk, But He Doesn't Get Everything..

My last post talked about comapnies that at least somewhat understand the benefits and power or WOM practices, but I became inspired shortly thereafter to blog about the comapnies that unbelievably just don't get it at all.

I was watching television recently and a Geico commercial came on. I was happy about this as their television ads are quite funny and have become a pop-culture success for the company between their Australian talking gecko and their never-went-extinct angry cavemen. This was a talking gecko ad wherein he was being asked why Geico needed him. He responded that it was because the public trusted "advertising icons." He proceeded to say that if a "some bloke" were to tell a person that they could save money by using Geico insurance, why would anyone believe him? They would believe, however, the trusted gecko. At this point, my ears perked up and stopped what I was doing, incredulous at what I was hearing! Isn't this the entire reason we are taking this class? Because people have a mistrust of organizations and an increasing trust in their peers? Because word of mouth has always been around? Because it is increasingly more effective than traditional advertising as the later becomes more pervasive? I think so! And yet the all wise and trustworthy gecko doesn't.

I'm surprised by this yet at the same time not so much: Geico's advertisers must be pretty savvy as they've managed to launch themselves smack into the middle of popular culture. Thus, I was surprised that they would have had the gecko saying something to discredit the power of word of mouth. But at the same time, I am not taken back by this at all because as we've studied, it seems hard for companies who've relyed so heavily on traditional tv and print advertising to throw it all to the wind and trust Joe Schmo on the street to spread the word.

I went to the Geico website to see if i could find the specific tv ad to link to in this blog and found some interesting things. On their site, Geico's tv commercials are displayed for viewing. I was poking around and found another ad that would have made me scoff with disbelief. This commercial featured the gecko talking to a lizard about how exactly he wanted him to talk to people when telling them about Geico (aka scripting!). This hits right at the heart of a WOM ethical issue surrounding stealth marketing. What I thought of first was BzzAgent and their philosphy of making transparency key, keeping buzz as natural as possible, and never telling agents what to say or even how to say it; a sound ethical stance to me. The Geico commercial was more evidence to me that the company has missed the boat on WOM marketing. (There are also other commercials you can check out on that page that make you wonder about Geico's knowledge of WOM principles.)

And then I watched one of the commercials that talked about exclusivity, a very powerful WOM principle. This commercial talks about making people feel special, as if they're "better than everyone else" for using the Geico website; the advertisers obviously see the value in leveraging this principle. On the other hand, however, neither is the practice of using exclusivity to sell your product. So does Geico understand WOM and choose not to use it? Or do they really just not get it?


The Biggest WOM Event Ever

We have all become very familiar with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) over the duration of our course. Recently they held the biggest WOM event ever in the history of mankind over in San Francisco. I thought it would a great post to just overview some of the great happenings in WOM marketing that occurred at this conference. The conference was held last week from June 20th-21st, and it featured presentations from leading WOM moguls in the field such as Robert Scobel and Shel Israel (authors of Naked Conversations), Jackie Huba (Creating Customer Evangelists), Ed Keller (The Influentials), and Emmanuel Rosen (Connected Marketing). Also, the event had tons of how - to workshops on building WOM programs along with the many other parts of WOM marketing that we have covered in class. Furthermore, 16 case studies from top companies were presented to illustrate the effectiveness WOM has had in the past year. In addition I thought it was interesting to see that some of the sponsors included, Brains on Fire and Cymphony.

Robert Scobel and Shel Israel lead the much anticipated keynote address, and as you can imagine, they included their two cents about WOM and in particular, blogging. They concluded their presentation by saying, the "dawn of blogging was fostered by the building of the social network and build tools, the Enron backlash, and a dissatisfaction with what they called committee based marketing" (WOMBAT Blog). From reading the WOMBAT, it seems like "The Biggest WOM Event Ever" went pretty well, and it has received a lot of positive feedback. I think WOMMA has served a great purpose to unite professionals using WOM marketing, and help the field to reach higher levels. Also, our own Dr. Carl has certainly had a terrific impact on WOM by teaching this insightful class (among his countless other works). I wish we could have taken the field trip to city by the bay, but regardless we have had some great experiences with the superb speakers that have visited our class and the projects we have completed. Congratulations to all of us!! WAHOOOOOO! Have a great summer everyone!


Crabby Old Lady Speaks the Truth

Originally, I learned about blogs that were used to merely record thoughts, like a diary. Then I learned about corporate blogs. Through our class discussions and blog postings, I have learned about blogs being used to spread buzz among consumers. We have studied the roles of influencers and social networks as well as buzz marketing companies who use online elements such as blogs to launch campaigns. After considering what a blog could do for the buzz of a product, I decided to search and see what's out there. I thought I would find blogs about mostly controversial issues, and I did. However, blogs seem to be flooding over into the product marketing forum. As I searched the blogosphere I stumbled across a blog called "Business Blog Consulting. This blog speaks specifically to how businesses can use blogs to communicate with consumers and market products.

On the blog there is a post called "Beauty Market Blogging" which speaks about how Revlon has made its way onto the blogosphere. A blogger named "Crabby Old Lady" has been described as expressing the the lack of quality cosmetics for older women on a blog called "Time Goes By: What It's Really Like To Get Older." The blog goes on to explain how older women wish to minimize yet products these days are made to enhance. On another post on the "Time Goes By" blog, Crabby Old Lady praises Revlon's Vital Radiance line for providing older women with the type of cosmetics they need. The author of the blog explains that this is very out of character for Crabby Old Lady who seems to do nothing more than criticize and bash products on the blog.

It seems to me as though Crabby Old Lady is a powerful influencer on this "Time Goes By" blog. After learning about buzz and word-of-mouth it would be in companies' best interests to seek out vocal evangelists like Crabby Old Lady and product seed products that are actually good. Once Crabby Old Lady got her hands on the Vital Radiance cosmetic line, she went right to the blog to express herself. The whole idea that she normally criticizes products on the blog made it that much more impressionable that she was saying something good about Revlon. As discussed on the Business Blog Consulting blog, Revlon did the right thing by listening to the consumers' wants and needs and reacting to them. I would also add that businesses should start monitoring blogs during market research to see what consumers want. This phenomenon that businesses may actually start caring what consumers want rather than pushing products at them is taking Word-of-mouth marketing by storm.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Ethics of Social Networks

As I was surfing the net tonight, I found myself on Yahoo's website. I usually go on to Yahoo to look around for clues in popular culture and the latest news. Some of the stories and news summaries can put me to sleep, however there was one that I saw that caught my eye and made me realize how much it pertains to class and even to my own life. It was about the webpage MySpace, which I know we're talked to death along with Facebook. But c'mon there is just so much to say about these social networks! I mean, these are very new and modern advances, leaving adults and parents very uncomfortable as we live in such an internet dependent period. They don't quite understand what we do on the internet all day. Even more so they don't understand if these sites are safe. Yet this news piece argues that parents felt the same way when rock music came out. The new and unfamiliar can be scary.

However, this is not what the article is about. It touches upon how advertisers love these new social networks because it gives them another outlet to advertise to the youth. We have talked about advertising enough in class to understand the progression that has taken place within the field towards word of mouth. They cited an example which rang very familiar to me, as it should to all of you. It was about how News Corp owns both MySpace and 20th Century Fox and so therefore they posted a profile about the new X-men 3 movie on MySpace. This is just what M80 did for Stewie for the Family Guy promotion. It makes the users of these social networks feel like they are even more connected to the world as a whole, not just to other college students or people their own age.

These social networks are really just second nature to us now, although I am sure there are people who stay away from it as to not jump on the bandwagon. I will say I was once one of them too. If somehow you are a rookie to Facebook, even Sports Illustrated has written up a small instructional guide on how to cruise the site which only allows college kids. It really is crazy to think of how far these sites have come in terms of popularity. MySpace is now second to Yahoo in web sites that are most frequently viewed!

The article also speaks with Shawn Gold, who is the senior vice president of content and marketing for MySpace, and he says that this is where advertisers go to market and to open up the doors for their product or promotion. Due to the fact that we do allow an awful lot of information to be on our profiles for anyone to see, these companies can tap into these databases to better tailor their product to the appropriate audience! This reminds me a little of the conversation we had in class a while ago about if it was ethical for Northeastern staff to be looking at our blogs and commenting on them etc. As always word of mouth marketing has its ethical debate.

However when it comes to profiles such as MySpace, you really are allowing the world to see you, or who you want people to perceive you as. Therefore, I think it's fair game.


Smirnoff and WOM

I recently came home from giving a rather large, intimidating presentation for a certain communications class that will remain nameless, and decided to crack open a cold grape flavored Smirnoff Twsited V drink that was left over from a Cape Cod weekend. I opened the drink and noticed a number and letter code on the inside of the cap. I looked at the bottle and saw that Smirnoff was doing a sweepstakes type give away promotion that needed me to go to the website, enter my code, and see if i was a winner; after all, there was a winner every 60 seconds! So, in an attempt to be mindless and waste some time, I hopped on site. Naturally I had to register a bunch of information, (it was actually a bit of a lenghty and convoluded process), and even more naturally I was NOT a winner. However, I did not remain so downtrodden for long. I found myself very impressed with what the WOM practices they were employing on their website!

I know in class we have looked at real world examples and applications of WOM, but to find an example on my own, employed no less by a company that I am very loyal to, impressed me. I know that Smirnoff has some clever traditonal television advertisers working for them, but I found it interesting that they were exploring new avenues and arenas of the advertising and marketing worlds. Besides this campaign being a buzz building campaign with the neat animated graphics, website features, and cool give-aways, the first thing that really peaked my interest was their option to send the site to any of your friends so they could try to play the game as well; a classic WOMM practice.

They leveraged the principles of exclusivity by a socially conscious and clever (but easily navigated around) feature that does not allow you to enter the site unless you are the legal drinking age of 21 as Smirnoff likes to promote "responsible drinking." You are required to put your birth date in, however you can pick a year that makes you 21 (even if you are not) and enter the site. A noble quest there, but not exactly effective I have a feeling. They use exclusivity again as well as an altruistic effect with a link they have on the same website that says "theres something cool under wraps... be the first to find out!" Once clicking the link, the two aforementioned principles show themselves vibrantly; the site says "We’ve got something super cool in store for you, but for now, it’s gotta be under wraps. But we’re almost ready to let you in on it. Sign up now, and you’ll be the first to know what’s up" and then there is a survey asking your experience with and propensity of drinking Smirnoff Ice.

As I said, I was pleased with all these things. But I think the Smirnoff Ice website is a very good example of companies unwillingness to fully accept and implement WOM principles and practices. While there were some WOM principles, there were not many and Smirnoff obviously still holds their traditional advertising in high esteem as they have a section of their website devoted to their television ads. There were no voting features or surveys pertaining to customer satisfaction, no consumer generated features, no blogs, etc, etc.

At least some companies get WOM partially, however. Kudos Smirnoff. It got me clicking around on your website!


The Dark Side

We have talked about stealth marketing in class from time to time, and it has always been something that has caught my interest. I'm not saying that I plan on switching to the dark side of the force, or following in Darth Vadar's footsteps, but stealth campaigns are just very interesting to me, and I wanted to read some more on the topic. So, I took a look at Andrew and Jack Kaikati's article, Stealth Marketing: How to Reach Consumers. One quote quickly caught my attention; "Stealth marketing attempts to catch people at their most vulnerable by identifying the weak spot in their defensive shields." I thought this quote was a great way to start my journey of learning the sneaky, tactful, and tasteless ways of stealth marketing. The main idea behind stealth marketing is to get influential people talking about a product or service without it appearing to be company - sponsored.

Now, I understand this first impression of stealth marketing is subject to some criticism, but there are many reasons why marketers are turning to these dark ways. Some factors responsible for the increase in stealth marketing include a growing criticism of the advertising industry, fragmented audiences due to thousands of new channels and stations, and the growth of personal television recorders such as TiVo. Due to these limitations affecting traditional advertising, stealth marketing has evolved in the forms of viral techniques, brand pushers, celebrity stealth, bait and tease marketing, video games, and marketing in pop and rap music. Some familiar examples of stealth campaigns include Dr. Pepper's stealth blogging project, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications camera phone stealth marketing.

Aside from some of these more well known campaigns, many other companies are beginning to integrate more stealth strategies into their marketing mix. Cigarette companies are paying attractive women to hit the bars and try to get other men to have a smoke with them outside so that they can advertise the brand of cigarettes. High profile actors are secretly getting money in their pocket for nonchalantly talking about a brand in public, and even some of today's most prolific music stars are getting paid to shout out brands in their lyrics. In fact, one study from Stealth Marketing: How to Reach Consumers found rap music to overwhelmingly mention Mercedes, Lexus, Gucci, Cadillac, and Burberry in their songs.

However, these strategies aren't always full proof, and they most certainly aren't considered ethically sound. There is possibility for backlash with stealth marketing from consumers who feel cheated, or that their privacy is infringed upon. Other ethical concerns include common trust, invasion of music lover's privacy, video games with excessive violence advertising brands, and the idea of simply messing with people's minds such as using subliminal messages. So my question is, where do you think the line should be drawn for stealth marketing? Is this creative means for marketing all that bad? Yoda, teach me how to live by the force before I hop on the death star.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Golden Horn

So we've all seen the effect of WOM in case studies as well as in this blog (Johnny Cupcakes anyone??) I thought I'd just share a little bit of positive WOM in regards to GoldenHorn Cafe. For those of you who may not be aware, Golden Horn is located right next to Campus Tan on the corner of Mass. Ave and Huntington.

Now, how I became obsessed with Golden Horn is actually through a WOM episode. Kennie mentioned Golden Horn on one of our first days of class and it piqued my interest. I've passed by the place so many times and never even thought to stop (in all honesty, I thought it looked kind of sketchy when I first came to Boston). It wasn't until a few days ago that my group members and I were meeting and we decided to go to Golden Horn before meeting one of our other group members at her apartment. I wasn't all that hungry but I wanted to try it out, so I got a strawberry frozen yogurt. Now, I worked at TCBY back in high school, so I know frozen yogurt, but this strawberry frozen yogurt was amazing! It had actual bits of strawberries in it and it was HUGE!!! For not being all that hungry, I was definately stuffed after this cup of frozen yogurt. I've been back several times and each time I've brought a friend and they too love it. So this is my plug for Golden Horn. It is relatively cheap (you get a lot of food for your money), the menu is quite extensive for a cafe, and the food is really very good. I've also had the grilled Chicken panini (#29, for those of you who are already avid lovers) and the Rosted Vegtable pita roll up (#47). And they deliver! So if you happen to be walking by this summer, check it won't be sorry, I promise! -->

The 4th Level of Bloom's: Analysis/Synthesis

Now don't get too excited over the title to this blog post. I know you are all dying to read what I have to say about the 4th level of Bloom's taxonomy, but I actually want to tie together a little bit about how WOM realtes to the consulting business. On Tuesday, we had a guest speaker come to our Consultation Skills class and talk to us a bit about the consulting business. His name was Dr. Devin Smith, a manager with The Frankel Group, a consulting firm with offices in Cambridge. He touched upon a lot of different subjects; what working as a consultant is like, how time consuming the job can be, what ranks there are in most consulting firms, how much people in the business make. But what really drew my attention was the talk about marketing a consultant firm and its services.

Just like we've learned in our WOM class, word-of mouth was the best way Dr. Smith suggested to market a consulting firm. Someone is often looking for some outside help, brings it up in conversation with a friend, then that person refers you to a firm their company just had success dealing with. The key here is keeping current customers happy. Where have we heard that before? The best thing to do is to stick with the clients who appreciate your services, and continually come back to your company for help. In our consultation class, we've been reading Sue Dewine's, The Consultant's Craft. She too mentions word-of-mouth as being a really effective way for consulting firms to market themselves. She refers to this type of marketing as "indirect marketing". According to Dewine, "the first principle of marketing for consultants is to satisfy current customers." Just like what we've learned in our WOM class, you need to keep current clients happy. Special, VIP treatment can do wonders for an organization. Repeat customers can be social influencers and hopefully consumer loyalits to your company. With a solid group of satisfied customers, positive word-of-mouth will spread quicker than you think.

Now I know it'd be tough to develop a WOM marketing campaign for a consulting firm. I mean think about it, is the consulting business really all that interesting? I guess that depends who you ask, but for most of us probably not. However, this is one of those examples where a company can take advantage of really simple, traditional WOM aspects. There's really no need for product seeding, or an advergame, or a online community with team specialists and viral media players. All a company needs are a few important things: a good product, loyal customers, and people willing to share information about the company with others.

Pulling together information from both the Consultation Skills and the WOM class is no easy task, but it's interesting to see those few times when the two subjects actually relate and intertwine to one another. Anyway, that's my best shot at the 4th level of Bloom's Taxonomy, I hope Professor Dallimore is proud.

Bribed with Blogging

-->Ok, so after NULAX17 reflected about CGM being a media for WOM marketing much like TV, it got me thinking about this blog. Its clear that WOM is spread through blogs as people voice thier opinions, both praises and criticisms, about anything and everything you can think of. Just look at the power of WOM from the blog about the Kryptonite Lock that is easily hacked with a Bic pen. Blogs are a definite tool to spread WOM just like CGM.

Now here is the delimma, and I pose this for discussion...if WOM is most ethical when not forced upon people (and we've seen countless companies that have failed at WOM campaigns because of these sneaky tactics) then what does it say about blogs where people are forced to contribute? Now I'm not saying that as students in this WOM and Viral Marketing class that we've been told that we will fail the course if we dont participate in blogs, but we are expected to contribute a minimum about of posts and comments. I'm wondering how ethical this was....On one hand it is apart of an academic course and helps us as students to really feel the effects that blogging has, especially when it relates to spreading WOM. It is also a great source for "outsiders" of the class to see what we've been up to all semester. On the other hand, if WOM is not supposed to be forced, does this make it ok. And in a way, the WOM spread through this blog is amplified because we have incentives to participate.

My own personal opinion is that realizing and recognizing that this amplified WOM is taking place given the circumstance in which we are blogging makes it less unethical than if we were to keep secret about how this blog relates to our participation grades. Inherently, by keeping this blog transparent, and the terms in which we blog, we can save ourselves from being persecuted for unethical WOM....

Class 25 Agenda: Interrogating the Ethical and Societal Effects of Peer-to-Peer Influence as a Marketing Strategy

25; The Dark Side of the Force: Why Obi-Wan Never Shilled and Yoda Never Went Stealth Interrogating the Ethical and Societal Effects of Peer-to-Peer Influence as a Marketing Strategy (Wednesday)

Learning Objective(s):
· Distinguish between ethical and unethical WOM practices;

Readings for This Class:
· Sales Pitch Society II. Kate Kaye. 2006. Pages 1-42. (Bb)
· To Tell or Not to Tell? Walter Carl. 2006. Pages 1-24. (Bb)
· Suggested Reading: Live Buzz Marketing. Justin Foxton. 2006. Pages 24-46. (CM)
· Suggested Reading: Stealth Marketing: How To Reach Consumers Surreptitiously. Andrew M. Kaikati and Jack G. Kaikati. 2004. California Management Review, 46(4), pp. 6-22. (Bb)

· Client presentation debrief.
· Societal and ethical implications of WOM marketing and peer-to-peer influence programs

· Debrief the client presentations.
· What worked well?
· What could have been improved upon?
· What did you learn from this experience?
· Discuss the societal and ethical implications of WOM marketing and peer-to-peer influence programs.

To Do (for next class):
· Readings:
· Conclusion: the future of connected marketing. Justin Kirby. 2006. Pages 267-274. (CM)
· Myths and promises of buzz marketing. Stéphane Allard. 2006. Pages 197-207. (CM)
· Complete WOMES #3 entry
· For Thursday, we will take the first 20 minutes to do course evaluations and then the last 80 minutes for our 20 minute meeting with groups to discuss the project. You can leave after I talk with your groups.On Monday, during the final exam time, we will debrief how the class went, talk about the future of WOM marketing, discuss career possibilities, and have a festive celebration.


Integrated Classroom Experience

I'm sure we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that our client presentations are over with. It has definately been an experience to say the least. I just want to take a moment and reflect on what this experience has taught me.

I know for me personally, I have already taken Consultation Skills and have done a similar project. By similar I mean, an outside client came to our class with an issue and we as students were asked to take on the responsibility of proposing a viable solution. So when this project was presented to us, I knew what I was in for. With Consultation skills, our client was the Shattuck Shelter and as much as I complained the entire semester, going through the entire process really taught me a lot. I know there are several of you out there that are taking both Consultation Skills and this class together during the summer, and you each deserve a KUDOS. The Shattuck Shelter service learning project was probably the hardest and most intense project I've ever been given at Northeastern. But it was probably the most worthwhile.

In all honesty, I think these two classes are probably the best classes any of us can take as Communication majors (especially for us who are organizational comm). By integrating what we learn in class into an actual hands on project, at least for me, is the best experience. Northeastern is known for it's co-op program, but I would argue that it's classes like this class and Consultation skills, that also prepare each of us for the "real world." As students who are career conscious (I mean co-op was probably a leading factor in each of us choosing to come to NU), classes like these are instrumental in helping us in the future. I know for me, I went on and on in every co-op interview I had, bragging about the service learning project and I'm sure in the future I will do the same about this WOM proposal as well. I think Northeastern should take advantage of Professors like Dr. Carl and Professor Dallimore, who understand that learning isn't all about knowledge recall but about application and evaluation. Josh, that Bloom's taxonomy is all for you.

I would urge any communications major to take both of these classes. Yes, they require a lot of work and consume rediculous amounts of your social life, but in the end it's worth it. When I have a prominent position in a well known consulting firm, I'll be thanking both Dr. Carl and Professor Dallimore for all their expertise. (How's that last paragraph for positive WOM??)

And on a side note, I just want to congratulate the entire class for a job well done. I really am proud of what we've all accomplished.-->

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Word of Mouth is New Ads Message"

In the June 19th issue of The Financial Times there was a front page article ("Word of Mouth is New Ads Message" by Aline van Duyn)about the growth of word-of-mouth advertising and how important it is becoming in the new technology age. What struck me however is the mention of only one word of mouth marketing company; one that I have never heard of before. They are called Starcom Mediavest and they have been doing work with Procter & Gamble helping them orchestrate WOM campaigns and measure the WOM about their products.

According to the article, Starcom Mediavest is telling their clients to move away from traditional advertising venues because they are becoming less reliable, and instead is pushing clients to make WOM the focus of their campaigns. I found this portion of the article particularly interesting as we have often discussed in class how word-of-mouth can best be used in conjunction with traditional media venues. The article mostly discusses the use of referral programs, and the use of social networks such as MySpace, however they do not touch on any of the other WOM techniques we have learned about in class.

I thought this was an interesting article, firstly because it appeared on the cover of “The Financial Times”, and secondly because of the primitive nature of the article. It really goes to show how new the field of word-of-mouth marketing is, and how cutting edge this class is! Definitely take a look at the article if you get a chance.

Thank you to my Dad for pointing out this article to me.


Marketing Project Reflection

Today our class finished our client presentations for our athletics and alumni wom marketing campaigns. Watching the two alumni groups present today, I realized how much we all learned from this class. If I had been presented with the problems that the athletics department and alumni department came to us with, and was asked to create a solution, I would have taken a completely different approach. Probably something considered more traditional advertising. Or else, I would have been just completely overwhelmed and would have had no idea how to begin. However, with this class almost behind me, I (and my classmates) have such a handle on contemporary marketing (specifically word of mouth).

It was so interesting to watch the presentations today. Both groups were presented with the same problem to solve. And the presentations portrayed the learning that took place in the classroom this summer semester. Each group approached the problem from a completely different angle. I knew both projects would be different, but I also expected blatant similarities. But both groups' ideas and presentations were so diverse in their approach. After the first presentation, I thought, "That is a great idea. I'm sure the next group will do something along the same lines." However, the second group came from a totally different angle. Yet both ideas were interesting and impressive.

I think that this shows how much we learned. We learned enough to cover completely different ground with the same problem. The alumni department could hypothetically fuse both ideas and use them both, because they were so different. Both groups leveraged different wom principles. We all learned enough to pick what we think is the most important and most effective.

Further, I think this project showed us all how complex a marketing campaign is. Our group was overwhelmed with research and questions, but we pulled it together and found what we needed to make a successful campaign and presentation. This project (though a burden at times) has proven to be a valuable lesson, as well as a measurement of the amount we learned. I'm glad it is over, not only because my stress can return to normal, but because I finally got to see the finished product from the other groups. Now I can't wait to see what the other athletics group did!

You Tube and the Power of CGM

The power of consumer generated media was widely used and explained in class and, in my opinion, very well oriented into aspects of several of the NU Alumni and NU Athletics projects we wrapped up today. I came across an article today that I felt articulated the power of CGM in creating what I would call "amateur celebrities." My personal definition of this would be along the lines of making the average Joe a celebrity for no distinct reason other than the fact that they created a popular piece of CGM. I wrote my first blog on two guys who are currently becoming increasingly popular due to their self promotion through their websites and blogs. CGM is taking that to the next level. I am beginning to feel like a CGM is worth a thousand blogs - to borrow from an old phrase. You Tube is increasingly becoming a premiere venue for CGM and it is clearly articulated through the Dancing "It Boy" article linked above.

Judson Laipply never expected that his joke of a video would wind up giving him all the popularity that has ensued. As a motivational speaker, he admits that his piece of CGM has given him the chance to make career moves, although he remains skeptical. The point I have grasped from all this, however, is that no matter what happens, people have clung to this little piece of CGM for a reason. It was not thrown at them, it was not pushed in anyones face, but merely sent around the internet and winding up on You Tube because people accepted it. This kind of self-promotion marketing, whether intentionally or unintentional, is something I questioned in that very first blog. I am very pleased to see that while no one commented on the original posting with their ideas (I think we were still getting acquainted to the blogging system) I was able to complete this course and come up with an answer of my own. So I'll finish my last blog post with a simile for everyone - CGM is like TV for WOM.


Class 24 Agenda: WOM Program Presentations to Client – Day 2 (Tuesday)

24; WOM Program Presentations to Client – Day 2 (Tuesday)

Learning Objective(s):
· To display knowledge of how WOMM principles can be leveraged in an organized WOMM program design
· To apply persuasive speaking skills when presenting to a client

· Client Presentations

· Client Presentations (Alumni)
· Alumni Group 1
· Alumni Group 2

To Do (for next class):
· Bring in peer review sheets and hand them in individually.
· We’ll spend the first part of class reflecting on the presentations and then the second part discussing ethics.
· Readings:
· Sales Pitch Society II. Kate Kaye. 2006. Pages 1-42. (Bb)
· To Tell or Not to Tell?. Walter Carl. 2006. Pages 1-24. (Bb)
· Suggested Reading: Live Buzz Marketing. Justin Foxton. 2006. Pages 24-46. (CM)
· Suggested Reading: Stealth Marketing: How To Reach Consumers Surreptitiously. Andrew M. Kaikati and Jack G. Kaikati. 2004. California Management Review, 46(4), pp. 6-22. (Bb)


Monday, June 19, 2006


“Evangelist Marketing,” as defined by WOMMA, involves “Cultivating evangelists, advocates, or volunteers who are encouraged to take a leadership role in actively spreading the word on your behalf.” Many WOM Marketers employ evangelism, notably Ben McConnell and Jackie Hubba of the Church of the Customer.
While these approaches have been effective, they all focus on the consumer. Yes, it is remarkable when someone cares enough about your product or service enough to want to become an evangelist for you, but can’t the people who make the product or service be evangelists? Isn’t someone loving what they do and make and really believing in it just as remarkable?
A few weeks ago I met Tim Fish, creator of the gay romance comic Cavalcade of Boys, at Comicopia, He was there signing some of his work, and even had advanced copies of some stuff. Even though it was torrentially raining outside, there was still a decent turnout, but I still got to talk to Fish for a little bit. I asked him about how he broke into comics, and told me that he had to publish his own stuff, working really hard on both creative and marketing levels, so that he would have to show the big companies like Marvel. He’s been self-publishing for years, not only writing, drawing, and lettering all his comics, but also dealing with distributors. He did all of this while working a day job to support himself. Fish obviously had a great enthusiasm and love for his work and medium, and was willing to sketch in each of the comics from the huge pile I brought. He even did sketches for another guy of characters that he has no affiliation with. Several customers came into the store while I was there, and ended up leaving with copies of Fish’s comics, even though they had never heard of him before.
I think he is a perfect example of Self-Evangelical marketing. He goes to conventions and comic stores and gets his name out there. For years, WOM was the only marketing he had, exposing fans to his product, and they would in turn expose their friends. Since he is so indie, he has credibility that creators linked to the large publishers lack. And just talking to him, it is obvious he loves what he does. Like other customers in the store, if I had gone in not knowing who he was, after talking to him, there is no way I could have walked out of there without buying his work.


Class 23 Agenda: WOM Program Presentations to Client – Day 1 (Monday)

23; WOM Program Presentations to Client – Day 1 (Monday)

Learning Objective(s):
· To display knowledge of how WOMM principles can be leveraged in an organized WOMM program design
· To apply persuasive speaking skills when presenting to a client

Readings for This Class:
· No Reading

· Client Presentations

· Client Presentations (Athletics)
· Athletics Group 1
· Athletics Group 2

To Do (for next class):
· No Reading
· Client presentations for Alumni group


CSN Corporate Blog

So a couple weeks ago after we had the lecture from Jim Nail about how to handle negative WOM on corporate blogging I pitched the idea to my co-op company, CSN Stores, of creating a corporate blog. I put together a lot of information for them about various companies who have employed corporate blogging in the past, as well as a number of guides and suggestions for starting and maintaining corporate blogs. I am proud to say that they were very excited about the idea and they thought it would fit in well with our corporate culture.

CSN Stores is a sepcialty retailer that focuses on niche markets in order to offer the widest selection and best service. The idea behind their corporate strategy is that by specializing in several markets instead of having a giant superstore they can specialize and carry the largest selection in each market. I've worked with them for about a year now and it is incredible how much and how quickly the company has grown. If you're looking for dorm furniture or any furniture for that matter they have an incredible selection. Also they have a huge Racks and Stands store which has all sorts of cool and convenient ways to store CD's, DVD's, etc. (very useful when you are trying to save space in your apartment). Another really cool thing about the company that most people don't know is that if you call into the customer service line and ask for a discount they will almost always give you one. They also participate in price matching which means that if you find a product on a website you don't trust but it is the cheapest price you've found, you can call into customer service and they will match the price for you.

Just another note concerning the company, I know they are still accepting co-op's for the co-op round starting July 5th (The day after the 4th of July unfortunately). The work can be a little tedious at times (very repetitive depending on the project you are assigned) however everyone is really young and they frequently have free open bars, free lunch, celtics/red sox/bruins tickets throughout the year, and they pay very competitavely especially for a communications co-op. I know a couple people in class are stuck for co-ops for the next round so if anyone would like their contact information let me know and i can get it to you.

Anyway, I am very excited about the prospect of helping CSN design a corporate blog. In case anyone is interested I found some really great resources on corporate blogging on the Cymfony Knowledge Center website if anyone needs any information on blogging or is just interested in learning more; you should definately check it out.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

New Music!

One of the main components of the music industry is word-of-mouth. With this class, I have been able to learn about several different types of WOM, and it is instinctual for me to try to apply these concepts to the music industry.

One particular website that I have found within the last year, Pandora, allows for fans to learn about other artists that are similar to music they already like. This site allows for you to enter in an artist’s name that you like, and then a playlist will be generated by the website. The list begins with a song by the artist you typed in, and then following this song, there are several other artists that are played that have a similar sound to the original one that you are interested in. For example, when I clicked “Create A New Station” and typed in “Zero 7," a song titled, “I Have Seen” from their album “Simple Things” begins to play. Then following this song, is a song entitled “I Am” by “Lina.” When listening to the songs, I had never heard of the band "Lina," and as a result, I am able to listen to the song, rate the song, create a new station with this artist as the focal point, buy the album, and also buy the individual song. In addition, by creating the "Zero 7" station a long time ago, I received an email from Pandora telling me that "Zero 7" had released a new album and that I could go to their website and listen to it.

Not only does the website allow for music fans to become interested in other musicians that they have not heard of, but the way that I personally found out about it was through word of mouth. A friend of mine passed on the website to me, and since, I have passed it on to several other music fans that I know! From a bit of research that I have done, I did not find advertisements for the site, but have found that it has mainly just been passed on from one music fan to the next! I highly recommend this site to you if you like learning about new musicians and a site which can lead you to over 10,000 new albums!


Friday, June 16, 2006

"Dancehall Dormroom"

The title of this blogpost is the same as the title of the interesting article I am about to share with you all from the June 5th publication of the "Metro". I always pick up the Metro on the way to my job everyday as it gives me something to read while I'm riding the T. There are better days than others when it comes to the articles in the Metro. Today was one of them as the front page had a spread of a male MIT student, Zach Anderson, who apparently has secured his freshmen dormroom with such things as motion detectors, surveillance cameras, sirens, and a fingerpoint scanner (for his own identity) in order to deactivate all these devices.

You may be thinking this kid is a little overly protective of his dormroom, however, the twist is that Anderson and his roomate are the ones that installed it all and the first students in MIT history to make an automated dormroom! (Wait did I read that right? Only in MIT's history??? This had been done before??) It shouldn't come as a surprise that this boy is an electrical engineer/computer science major and received a perfect score on his Math SAT's. Here is a look into the brain of a mathematical genius: between the the two boys, they set up a security system, electrical blinds, voice activation, LED screens that flash weather and news, and they can see if someone has broke into the room through a remote access Web cam. Phew! This is some intense stuff, I know I wouldn't want to mess with these kids! Even more impressive it took them the school year and only cost them 300 dollars, as opposed to the thousands it would have if someone else had installed everything. Anderson has also posted his dormroom and a party video on, and since has received 600 hits per minute!

Here is the fun not only is their room protected head to toe, it is also a fun party house! With a hit of a red button, Anderson can have his blinds show funky graphic designs, get his music pumping, black lights going, and even fog machines starting! I bet those MIT freshmen don't have too much of a hard time deciding where they are going to go party in the dorms these days.

We may not know Mr. Anderson but I encourage you to check out his site in the link above as he is one of our peers as a college age student. Look at what we are doing now....and grown ups think all we do is party!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Class 22 Agenda:Workshop WOM Program Presentations, 2

22; Workshop WOM Program Presentations, 2 (Thursday)

Learning Objective(s):
· To fall and make mistakes and learn from them regarding presentations to clients
· To develop conversational, extemporaneous, and passionate speaking skills when talking about the proposal

Readings for This Class:
· No Reading

· Mock Client Presentations

· Mock Client Presentations (students should have printed out blank PDF outline)
· “Competing” group will wait outside.
· Groups will receive 20 minutes to present. 20 minutes of feedback.
· Groups
· Athletics Group 1
· Athletics Group 2

To Do (for next class):
· No Reading
· Client Presentations:
· Athletics Group 1
· Athletics Group 2


Johnny Cupcakes

Although I enthusiastically explained in class on Monday my interaction with Johnny, I also had the burning desire to blog about it. As I mentioned earlier, this past weekend I walked into what I thought was a bakery, to be surprised by tee shirts, sweatshirts and underwear. Ok, so maybe this wasn't at all what I was expecting, but I decided to see what all this "buzz" was about. When I say buzz, I actually mean what I had saw 2 weeks prior as I was passing the brand new store on Newbury. The line was so long outside of Johnny Cupcakes that I became intrigued by what was going on. 2 weeks went by and I finally got up the motivation to see what all this hype was about.

Johnny Cupcakes is in fact a clothing company, with a twist. Rather than displaying his items as a 'normal' store would, he centers his store around one large theme, a bakery. Everything is designed to resemble that of a bakery (his clothes come in bakery boxes, the tee shirts lay in authentic refrigerators etc.) The tee shirts were hardly under priced, ranging from 30$-50$, yet that didn't seem to stop any customers from purchasing a shirt. Johnny said the Japanese people adored his clothing, and that became more apparent to me as we stood there talking. Johnny's openness about his company was admirable. He talked about the location which he was in, how his business began, what's in it for the future, as well as the costs of everything... and I mean everything!!

The truth is, according to Johnny, that his company began when he started selling tees out of the trunk of his car when he used to work for Newbury Comics. He said that no further promotions had been run, yet he had received publicity from movies, VH1, MTV and other major networks/magazines/newspapers. He even brought out a recent newspaper report on his store which had come out about 1 week prior in the Boston Globe. Johnny has also created his own buzz by adding himself to Myspace where he has over 10,000 friends. Along with that, located on his website is a blog.

Seriously, if you are ever meandering down Newbury Street with some extra time on your hands, stroll into Johnny Cupcakes. Strike up a conversation with the 23 himself, and see why goals can actually be attained. His feelings, "if it doesn't work out, I'll at least have a good story to share with my kids one day".

WOM, Buzz, & Viral Marketing Communication