Word-of-Mouth Without Words: Putting It to Work For Our Agency

How We're Trying to Kindle Interest

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Jennifer Modarelli
Jennifer Modarelli
All of the buzz about buzz marketing these days would have us believe that nothing gets sold anymore without getting tagged, favorited, dugg, blogged and generally shouted from 10,000 consumer rooftops. These tactics are important -- our agency has certainly pounded a stake into that ground -- but I fear we're missing some of the more subtle aspects of social influence in this discussion. Can word-of-mouth be built on observation, when no words are exchanged? I believe it can, and we put it to the test using ourselves.

Those who know me know that I love my Kindle. I was a slow convert, spending over a year in envy of the growing base of fellow travelers reading on their Kindles. Being a frequent flyer, I am respectful of personal boundaries and as such never asked to see it or what they were reading, even though I was, in fact, carefully studying anyone who was reading from one. The ongoing mystery made the Kindle feel like a sacred object and most certainly made it memorable and desirable.

Of course, as a small agency we constantly have to make ourselves memorable and desirable to beat the big boys and we are at a disadvantage with regards to our brand awareness at the C-level. That's where my love for the Kindle fit in.

We figured our top C-level prospects were a lot like me -- digital marketers, frequent fliers, who have probably been directing some gear envy toward Kindle users. So we started using the Kindle as a one-on-one marketing platform sent to these prospects; we load it up with our capabilities, case studies, and the story of what we can do for their company. Our agency also began to syndicate our blog content for the Kindle. (If you're a Kindler, you can get it here.) Our theory was that instead of a relentless string of emails and phone calls, the prospect's first interaction with White Horse would be the Kindle. Not likely to be ignored and the prospect can get to know us while joining the growing ranks of e-book champions. Of course ,we followed up with notes and phone calls; we all know the importance of multi-channel approach.

We saw the Kindle as part of the broader shift toward a more intimate level of one-to-one marketing for our agency. Our prospect gets to experience the Kindle and learn about White Horse. It's a word-of-mouth strategy without the words or the mouth.

You're probably wondering if this has worked. And the answer is a resounding yes. I've had a chance to get to know a good percentage of the individuals we sent the Kindle too, and they have gotten to know White Horse. And for those who are wondering have we made money on this? The answer is "Not yet."

But that seems just about right by our planning. The Kindle didn't instantly take the world by storm -- even with Oprah's endorsement and Amazon's constantly recommending it. Like choosing an agency, it's a special kind of purchase. The Kindle is a slow-burn buy. You watch people reading it from afar, you think about whether or not you want to give up holding a book in your hands and you eventually decide it is time to try a change.

That's what we were after, introducing ourselves to the right audience in a memorable and innovative way. Keeping them thinking about us and we're fairly sure when the inevitable time comes for agency change, we'll be there.

Happy reading.

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