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WOM Success: Help Consumers Tell Stories

As the principal consultant of GeoActive Group USA, I have always been an advocate of applying storytelling techniques that help clearly articulate the practical value of my client's product or services. Therefore, the following research results were encouraging. It's no secret that case studies are very effective at communicating value, but there was little hard evidence that these short stories are read and then retold to others.

The Keller Fay Group released a report that challenges several commonly held beliefs regarding word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. Titled "The Steak is the Sizzle", the study finds that products determined by consumers to be 'easy to discuss and recommend' are more likely to achieve WOM success than goods solely perceived to be new and innovative.

Keller Fay completed a comprehensive survey of consumers who had recently participated in WOM marketing programs. CEO Ed Keller believes the resulting report dispels two of the most prevalent myths in the young industry, namely that breakthrough products are discussed at a higher rate than others and high profile marketing stunts are required catalysts for WOM success.

According to Keller, �Marketers have strong beliefs about what drives word-of-mouth success, but until now conventional wisdom has been the dominant source of information. This study challenges much of what we have come to believe about consumers when it comes to their recommending behavior. Word of mouth is not reserved for revolutionary products; rather it can also be harnessed by marketers in many
categories and at various stages of the product lifecycle.�

WOM marketing and media firm BzzAgent provided Keller Fay researchers with access to its community of engaged consumer volunteers. Findings contained in study were derived from online interviews with more than 3,200 BzzAgent community members. Respondents supplied Keller Fay with insights into which types of products were most compelling, how often they discussed the items, why they joined the WOM community, and what motivates their social activities.

The report finds a clear linkage between a product�s ability to solve a consumer�s problem with that individual�s willingness to discuss it. �Surprisingly, effective word of mouth is not all about �the latest and greatest,�� added Keller, �It�s about real products filling real needs.�

Researchers also segmented survey respondents by WOM activity level and compared the values of the two groups. The report states active consumers place a greater emphasis on products they find easy to discuss and recommend. It also determines that engaged WOM volunteers prioritize learning about the latest products and being among the first to discover products when joining campaigns. Regardless of activity level, however, the study concludes that WOM drivers are largely product related.

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