Friday, May 19, 2006

Which Came First -- The Chicken or The Egg?

John Moore from Brand Autopsy recently presented his Creationist Word-of-Mouth vs. Evolutionist Word-of-Mouth presentation in Barcelona, Spain at the Second Annual International WOM Conference. I visited his blog "Brand Autopsy" and found that he had uploaded and posted the presentation as a You Tube file. Not only is his blog spreading word-of-mouth but he has also attached a You Tube file which can be shared with others, further spreading his message. I invite you all to watch his presentation.

Moore presents the ideas of Creationism WOM and Evolutionism WOM. He compares the two views with the age old question, which came first-- the chicken or the egg? In WOM terms, which came first-- marketing which generates word-of-mouth or word-of-mouth marketing? This is the debate marketers all over the world are discussing.

He describes Creationism as "artificially ampliphied" marketing. In other words, marketers create word-of-mouth and give it to customers. One example Moore uses is "forehead marketing." One guy agreed to write different company names on his forehead for a hefty price. Talk about generating conversation! Of course, magazines and newspapers grab on to this crazy act and even more publicity is generated.

On the other end of the spectrum is Evolutionism. Moore describes this as organic WOM. Marketers will create a product or experience that attracts consumers who become die-hards or, evangelists. The word-of-mouth that these evangelists spread is naturally occuring, they are not told to spread the word. An example of Evolutionist WOM is TIVO. Owners of TIVO love their product so much that they spread the word through their social networks. An example of an experience that generates WOM for a product is Starbucks. Moore emphasizes that Starbucks actually spends very little on marketing because the experience itself generates conversation among consumers.

Moore ends his presentation asking a question to marketers. Are you living for the dot or the line? The dot is consistent with creationists who believe in short-term WOM to get a message out to the public. The line is consistent with evolutionism which generates organic, long-lasting WOM.

Personally, I think evolutionist WOM is more effective. I mean, I like to believe we are intelligent consumers. If I saw a guy walking around with a company name written on his forehead, the first question I would probably ask is, "how much is he getting paid?" This doesn't neccessarily mean this doesn't generate WOM however, is the WOM about the quality of the product or is it about the stupidity of the act itself? I think a good product will lend itself to organic WOM. Customers who are happy with products want to express their satisfaction. Who are we more likely to trust - someone who is getting paid or our best friend?

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