Word of mouth marketing starts with proper listening – Interview with Molly Flatt of 1000 Heads

Punk Love

Today’s interview is with Molly Flatt, Word of Mouth Evangelist for global marketing agency 1000heads, to get some insight into how to get the most out of your word of mouth marketing.

This interview follows on the back of last week’s interview: Blogger outreach and building trust with your customers – Interview with Hugh Anderson and is number fifty-five in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Molly:

  • Word of mouth has suffered from a confusion with the emergence of social media.
  • Social media has been integral to the development of word or mouth marketing as an accelerator as that is where we can see it, monitor it and measure it.
  • But, research shows that 90% of word of mouth still happens offline.
  • Word of mouth is challenging for businesses as it cuts across lots of boundaries that we erect in business. For example, between marketing and the rest of business, online and offline etc etc.
  • Word of mouth is all about what the customer thinks and has a glorious disregard for the business boundaries that exist.
  • Word of mouth isn’t really just about marketing. Everything that a company does powers it’s word of mouth.
  • However, businesses have latched onto things to help them promote or further their word of mouth that they find safe.
  • Word of mouth is other peoples content. Content on a firm’s twitter page is still their content and is still advertising. We, as customers, know this.
  • True word of mouth is not about you talking to or with your customers it’s about your customers talking with each other, independently, about you.
  • That may seem obvious but it can present a very difficult shift, both mentally and logistically, for many businesses as it’s all about giving up control and letting other people take control of your message.
  • Word of mouth has to be tied to business objectives.
  • Word of mouth is just an indicator of how someone feels about you.
  • The question then is how does that feeling turn into more recommendations and more sales.
  • Therefore, word of mouth should be geared towards some sort of behaviour change and build of emotion that drives more and repeated sales.
  • If you are thinking about growing your word of mouth, start with listening.
  • Use tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention to help.
  • Proper listening. Listening like a real human being, not just monitoring.
  • The aim being to get to know what gets your customers talking.
  • Rather than change or join the conversation, do the thing that makes people talk. Do that and your word of mouth will grow.
  • The skills that are involved with good word of mouth are the same as those that are involved with being a pretty awesome person.
  • Brands shouldn’t try and be our friends. They can be friendly but they should focus instead on helping and facilitating us to do the things that we enjoy doing and that we want to talk about.
  • Want to get better at this? Find the people in your business that are inherently social, are your natural advocates and personify your brand. Those are the people you should start with and start something.
  • Try new things and do, do, do. Make mistakes and try again. As Samuel Beckett said “Fail better”.
  • Your internal advocates could be anyone: your CEO, your star customer service agent or a retail store assistant….
  • Molly’s plug: check out a charity that she loves – First Story – which arranges and pays for acclaimed writers to run creative-writing workshops for students in state schools across the country. You can check out their website here and find them on Twitter @FirstStory.

About Molly (adapted (slightly) from the bio on her personal site)

Molly Flatt

Molly is a writer, journalist, editor and Word of Mouth Evangelist for global marketing agency 1000heads. By day, she help brands such as Nokia, Mars and P&G use the latest social tools and psychology to become conversational from the inside-out; by night, she writes about books, technology and culture for the likes of The Guardian, Bookdiva and Delayed Gratification Quarterly, and is Features Editor for PHOENIX, a luxury fashion magazine.

She loves London, forests, unicorns and negronis, and is currently writing her first novel.

If you’d like to talk to her about any of these things, do get in touch via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Or, if you really want to get personal, you can email her at mollyflatt [at] gmail.com. She bites (her words!), but only in the best possible way.

Photo Credit: Jeff Weston via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    Isn’t word of mouth just a channel, a bit like twitter or the TV

    It just happens to be a very important channel, one that people listen to. The MMR / Autism scandal is a case in point.

    So I think the really important question, is what do you put in the front end of the channel, because you will never control it.

    James

    • Hi James,
      I think you are spot on when you say that word of mouth is like a channel. However, it is a channel that we cannot control and that is what many firms are scared of…..the lack of control. That does present an interesting problem….they would like more word of mouth but are unwilling to participate in the kind of activities that could generate word of mouth for them for fear that it may create negative word of mouth.

      But as Oscar Wilde once said: “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

      Adrian

  2. Hello Adrian

    It occurs to me that we are storytelling creatures. And any organisation that is a well know and generates a story will find itself subject to storytelling – online and offline. What makes great storytelling material? Experiences: my experience, your experience, customer experiences, employee experiences….

    As for the recommendations, the following spoke to me:

    - Rather than change or join the conversation, do the thing that makes people talk. Do that and your word of mouth will grow.
    - The skills that are involved with good word of mouth are the same as those that are involved with being a pretty awesome person.
    - Brands shouldn’t try and be our friends. They can be friendly but they should focus instead on helping and facilitating us to do the things that we enjoy doing and that we want to talk about.

    Maz

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