Despite a debilitating bout of man flu, yours truly struggled across London to take part in Maestro Andy Green’s conference on Word of Mouth, billed as “The ultimate conference on winning the battle for word-of-mouth communications”. I was worried that the pints of Lemsip. I had supped would knock me unconscious. It wasn’t the finest delivery, thanks to a flawed presentation mechanic, and fluffing my opening gags. “Proof positive that Word of Mouth doesn’t work. I recognise at least ten people in the audience who have friends who’ve heard me speak before – and they’ve still shown up”. Boom boom Also…”there was incredibly bad Word of Mouth this week for ITV’s ‘Stars in their Eyes’, when it emerged that ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko took Polonium 210 on purpose so he could appear as Gail Porter. ”
Seriously, I really enjoyed engaging with a good audience who picked up on my rap about Transformational Storytelling. This is the Borkowski process that is used to generate word of mouth. Trust me, it really can make a measurable difference.
I passionately believe that the word of mouth debate will continue with some vigour over the coming months. I think that when we all get around to examining how the negative rumour mill is being stimulated, we might consider our roles in generating this bile. I hope that the blog world will be filled with well researched and pragmatic comment, rather than trite cynical put downs that emphasise our insecurities.
At the gig, I posited that word of mouth is nothing new. Let’s face it , down the generations people have rated word of mouth advice above all other forms of communication when deciding what to buy. For decades, companies have experimented with how best to exploit it. Edward Bernays, the father of modern-day PR and spin, acknowledged this back in the 1920s when he launched a covert campaign for Lucky Strike ,enlisting health and fashion experts to write about the benefits of being slim and the dangers of sugar. I suggested that what was needed is a refocusing on the substance behind the word of mouth rather than the word of mouth itself: drilling down to the powerful stories that lie behind the brand.
I left without listening to the other folk. I wish I wasn’t so under the weather as it seemed to have a vibrant energy. One other thought, going home in the cab, something suddenly occurred to me. If Word of Mouth is so powerful, how do you explain the existence of Aberdeen Angus Steak Houses?