Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Don't be a Stumbling Block!

Long time ago I received a forwarding email regarding a study that was done on WOM. The study showed that irritated costumers are five times more likely to spread the word to their friends than a store representative and would most likely tell four friends on average. It reflected a typical human nature - human beings are more likely to spread the negative experience than positive’s; and this is also what we have talked about in the beginning of the class that people need to vent and would like to warn others (which most likely people do that out of vengeance…) voluntarily based on negative experience.

Speaking of negative experience of WOM, this reminded me a terrible experience that I had almost four months ago. To keep the story in a nutshell: I was literally dragged to a presentation by a so-called “friend” (he didn’t tell me that he was bringing me to a presentation; he only said it would be a surprise…and it happened around my birthday so I thought he would probably bring me to somewhere good....). I was asked to join a company which sells phone plan service and to pay USD$390 in order to become a "certified consultant" which helps to spread the word out. What I could gain from the company is, if there is a deal done then I would earn commission from the deal. To keep it short, I later on did spread the word out. But rather than helping to sell the phone plan, I was actually venting this horrible experience to my friends about how the company actually deceived people to join by asking its “employees” to keep the representation mysterious until their friends are actually there. The phone plan service per se is not a bad product; however, the techniques that the company employs to spread the WOM have some serious problems. From my point of view, the company is in fact taking advantage of the relationships between friends and made people (like me) feel violated by that. It has not only ruined a friendship but also held me back from engaging any other "authentic" marketing events because of this uncomfortable experience.


The WOM marketing this company engages is no different from stealth marketing. I couldn’t say that this company is doomed to be an unsuccessful one, but I strongly believe its unethical WOM tactic would, to some extents, prevent its growth to its highest potential. Companies should not forget that the growths of their businesses are determined by what their customers say about them. Being honest always wins customers because customers are delighted when the company/ service/ product is true to itself. If companies employ unethical practices, they are not only putting their own businesses into jeopardy but also are putting stumbling blocks in front of others who are true to their customers.


The study mentioned above is conducted by the Verde Group from Canada.

P.S I hold myself from not putting the name of that company up here so bad =[ Ask me in person if you want to know more detail about it! =)



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3 comments:

Sambernard said...

good one, keep up the god work sir.

Anne said...

Pik's description of the stealth marketing approach used by this company makes me very suspicious that other companies are using the same techniques. From working on the BzzAgent case, I've become inclined to believe that any kind of word of mouth marketing campaign should enforce transparency. Once discovered to be a hoax, these "undercover" techniques receive a backlash from consumers who generate negative word-of-mouth about the tactics used. Some would argue that creating negative word-of-mouth is still creating word-of-mouth (the idea that even bad press is good press), but I tend to believe that this kind of strategy will affect companies negative in the long-term. I have absolutely no research or support to back that statement up, but it's my opinion. It may spark "firecrackers" who jump on the band wagon and criticize the company by creating a funny viral video, but that video will not remain popular as the issue dies out.

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