At a conference like WOMMA you get a lot out of those hallway and meal conversations...
Tonight I sat next to Gary Stein, previously of Jupiter, now VP at Buzz Metrics. We discussed my previous post, that word of mouth is an outcome of the products and experience. In fact, his session he (and moreover) John Moore of Brand Autoposy highlighted this idea.
While a lot of advertising thinkers are still thinking advertising, and unlikely to shift their budget upstream to improve products (and ultimately culture), Gary shared a good story from the last WOMMA event about Electronics Arts. Apparently they had changed the game control for a football game. Customers hated it. Then the new control configuration was repositioned as 'freestyling' control. That word had a viral effect...somehow what was once a 'change' in what people were use to was now 'freestyling'. Then their sales took off. I guess that's branding at is finest.
Gary's great quote of the night..."word of mouth is wind, but you can put up a windmill". Stay tuned for learning more about Bazaarvoice's huge windmill!
Today I also talked to John Moore in the hallway to commend him on his comments about creating great products. His contention is that all great companies that have benefited from word of mouth (Starbucks, Whole Foods, etc.) were started by someone who wanted to change the world. In a word, passion. Many companies have lost that along the way. We didn't have time to come up with a company that has reinvented their passion and turned mediocre the great. What do you think?...add a comment.
p.s. It was great to see the CMOs/VPs of the three WOM analysis competitors (BuzzMetrics, Cymfony, Intelliseek) seem to be best friends! Pete Blackshaw has a picture of Gary Stein, Jim Nail and him at dinner tonight. We couldn't find Max of Buzzmetrics, but I think he would make the fourth word of mouth musketeer.