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Archive for January, 2010

So often I talk with bank marketing and credit union marketing folks who tell me, only somewhat convincingly, that they have great word of mouth. “We survey our new customers/members and 73% of them say they heard about us from a friend or family member.”

And I believe that—but what they’re talking about is “reactive word of mouth.” Or, in plain english, “I was bitching about my bank to a friend, and he said I should look into your bank/credit union instead.”

Don’t get me wrong—that’s a good situation to be in, and a good referral to have. But it’s not enough.

What you also need is PROACTIVE word of mouth. The kind of WOM that people spread without being prompted to do so. The kind that causes people to interrupt the priest at Sunday church to say, “OMG, did you hear about ________?!?!” THAT is the kind of word of mouth you should be focused on creating…and when you do, the reactive word of mouth comes along with it.

The bottom line: you can have much, much more word of mouth than you have now, but to get it you must put together a comprehensive, strategic word of mouth plan (see our white paper, Bottling the Buzz, for more on this). It doesn’t just happen automatically by providing “good service” to your customers/members.

/Jeff

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While I don’t really like their clothes, Diesel has a history of great branding and marketing, (more here). Today I discovered their newest campaign, Be Stupid, which includes print, outdoor and online components. The microsite is a simple, bold design that communicates in a daring, irreverent and in-your-face tone. Through Be Stupid, Diesel is actually promoting the “relentless pursuit of a regret free life.” Their definition of “stupid” is acts that are spontaneous, adventurous and reckless. The campaign glorifies people who take the road less walked and don’t play it safe. This is well aligned with the Diesel brand identity, which has always positioned itself as high-end casual wear for cool, creative, sexy and rash young adults.

Print ads depict models doing idiotic, daring activities with “Be Stupid” printed at the bottom of each ad. The interactive element comes in with the microsite, which asks “Are you doing something particularly stupid right now… like starting a band, building a tree house or creating an art installation?” This is in fact a call for entries for Diesel’s new music video, which will feature 100 creative individuals from all over the world doing “stupid” things. It’s great self-promotion for those who are selected – in addition to promoting their new collection, Diesel will direct viewers to the winners’ personal websites and social networks.

With all the artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc. out there, it’s hard to get one’s creative work showcased. I have a feeling this is going to get a lot of entries, some of which will be so ridiculous that they go viral in their own right. Hopefully winners are selected based on the “stupidity” and creativity of their entries, and not just on the way they look. (Though knowing Diesel, that’s probably a long shot – they want creatives who “look” like their brand.) I look forward to seeing all the stupid fun featured in their music video!

/Maija

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Allowing and responding to negative comments and criticism are an essential component of word of mouth marketing. But all too often, we hear stories of banks and credit unions restricting freedom of speech out of fear. This comes in many forms: not allowing comments on their Facebook pages, deleting negative messages on forums, threatening critics with legal action, etc. The result is that very real issues don’t get addressed, and sometimes the company never becomes aware that certain problems even exist. We’ve profiled a few banks and credit unions that foster open, two-way dialogue online and discussed why it is both positive and necessary. I recently found another example that everyone can learn from.

Last fall, gaspedal’s Word of Mouth Marketing Blog reported on Standard Bank’s response to a disgruntled customer. The customer had set up an unofficial anti-Standard Bank Twitter account, called @standard_bank, (the South African bank has their own official Twitter account, @StandardBankGrp). Standard responded with an entire blog post on the subject, discussing their side of the story and addressing why they had to resolve the disgruntled customer’s problems in private:

“Recently, a disgruntled customer has created an anti-Standard Bank twitter account (@standard_blank). In some cases, as in this instance, criticism stemmed from dissatisfaction with the way in which we handled an account. We take this seriously and have been in touch with this customer behind the scenes to try and resolve the issues raised. By trying to engage behind the scenes, we have come under fire for being ‘too quiet’, which is understandable, but we have no choice but to abide by our legal obligation to protect our customers’ confidentiality, which prevents us from having these types of conversation in the public domain.”

The Bank also stated their support for people expressing their criticisms online:

“As for the anti-Standard Bank activity, we believe that everyone has the right to share and express their views in any medium they choose and we will follow with interest.”

I think it’s important that Standard Bank said they would follow people’s opinions online. Many consumers who vent on forums and social media feel like their concerns aren’t being heard. Companies should pay attention to what’s being said about them and respond so people know their opinions are being considered.

/Maija

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You may have seen these viral videos going around that show cell phones causing popcorn kernels to pop. The videos show a few groups of people in different parts of the world all making popcorn pop by surrounding a couple kernels with their cell phones and all calling them at the same time.

This caused quite a stir since so many people use cellphones. The question started popping up – if the radiation from phones is so strong that it can make kernels pop, can it cause issues for us? The video was forwarded all over the place, causing people started trying it themselves and posting their attempts on YouTube. Of course, it never worked for anyone outside of the original video. Why is that you ask?

Well, CNN reported on it and let us all know who was behind the popcorn video:

It was a viral marketing campaign meant to push this company’s blue tooth hand free device. The idea was to be funny and show that a cellphone shouldn’t be close to your head – it can pop popcorn for goodness sakes! Essentially, they dropped popcorn in the shoot and digitally edited out the kernels before posting online. Very tricky! It would appear from the way people spread the video that it was successful, however it remains to be seen if it actually sold any of the product.

This is a very interesting and unexpected concept – especially for this product. Viral marketing is out there and lots of different companies are trying it to differentiate themselves. Videos and microsites don’t always immediately reveal what the product is – or even that anything is being advertised. I expect we will start seeing more and more of these types of marketing campaigns in the future. I guess you can’t always believe what you see…

/Alicia

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I know I’ve railed on Bank of America in the past, and they have deserved it. But I like their latest use of cause marketing because it supports young, local artists. When BofA took over LaSalle Bank in Chicago, it decided to put the building’s gigantic wall space – seen by about 400,000 people each day – to good use. The bank paired with the nonprofit After School Matters to launch a contest, called “Arts in Chicagoland”, in which area teens competed to have their design recreated on the wallscape. Covering the 8,600 square-feet of surface would be a creative challenge for anyone!

Not only does the contest showcase young artistic talent, it also gives those kids a foot in the door to work in creative fields. The creative director of BofA’s agency (BBDO) gave the students a creative brief to work from, much like they would get in a real job situation. The winner, a 16-year-old from the University of Chicago Lab School, has already been offered the chance to have her work exhibited in a gallery. Pretty impressive stuff for a high school student applying for colleges in the near future!

Regarding the mural, BofA’s VP of enterprise and channel marketing states, “…This is just such a great demonstration of starting with something amazing and creating a program that gives back to the community in an unbelievable way. It really takes our cause marketing activity to another level.” She has a point – if BofA owns the building, they could have painted a massive logo on it, let others advertise on it, or just left it blank. But instead they used it to show the art of a young local student, whose uplifting work will intrigue and inspire passerby each day. I hope they don’t let be a one-off thing. It would be great to see the artwork on the wall rotate every 6 months or so. The community would appreciate it, it would generate buzz about the artists, and positive PR for the bank.

/Maija

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A recent Netbanker article turned me on to Mint’s Twitter aggregation site, Money Tweets. It’s pretty impressive – definitely the best financial industry use of Twitter that I’ve seen. Money Tweets, a page on Mint’s blog, is broken into five different tabs:

1. Topics – Shows tweets from 20+ hand-picked Twitter users on the financial subjects: savings, investing, budgeting, loans, retirement.

2. Tweets about Mint – Tweets from the Twittersphere about mint.com.

3. Tweets from Mint – Mainly Mint just using its Twitter stream to announce new blog posts.

4. Questions – Tweets from followers answering Mint’s “Question of the Day”, posted on the left side of the page.

5. Popular – Organizes Tweets by trending financial topic keywords, including: black friday, budgeting, housing marketing, pay bills, save money, checking fees, stock market, tight budget. A graph shows the popularity of each topic by the hour or week.

Mint clearly understands the importance of integrating social media with the rest of their online presence. They also get the importance of transparency and openly display tweets about mint.com on the page. Netbanker states, “…most (all?) financial institutions will want to steer clear of streaming unmoderated tweets from anyone mentioning your company’s name.” While I agree that some moderation is necessary to keep out inappropriate or spammy content, I think that it should be kept to a minimum. If the page only displays positive tweets about Mint, readers will realize quickly that it’s not an honest representation of what people are saying. Yesterday, I found one or two negatives, so it looks like they are keeping the reigns loose for the time being.

/Maija

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Genworth Financial’s “Ovation” Campaign, which began around Thanksgiving (November is Long Term Care Awareness Month), recognizes and celebrates the 120 million Americans who care for elderly family members each day. This is the first time I have ever seen a marketing campaign specifically targeting current or future caregivers. It’s actually a huge market that I would imagine has unique financial needs.

According to Genworth’s press release, “The campaign… is a fully integrated campaign comprised of both traditional and social media components… To complement the TV and online ads, Genworth has also launched a Facebook Fan Page, which enables people to share stories and offer advice to other caregivers, and features a longer 45-second ad… Caregivers are also invited to log onto http://www.genworth.com/celebrates to share their stories, or those of their friends and families. People are also encouraged to visit Genworth’s “Cost of Care” center, its “Let’s Talk” long-term care website as well as YouTube to learn more about caregiving.”

Nowhere in the press release is any product mentioned. After looking around Genworth’s website, I came to the conclusion that the campaign promotes their long term care insurance (they are, after all, an insurance company). However, it is not mentioned in Genworth’s “Ovation” television ad, on the campaign Facebook page, or on the Let’s Talk section of their website.

Rather, the focus of the campaign seems to be more about providing useful information and encouraging adults to talk with their aging parents about future care options. This is smart – Genworth comes off as more of a resource than a company hawking insurance. Even if some of the audience are not yet caregivers, I bet that Genworth might be one of the first names they think of as a resource when the time comes around. And for those in their audience who are caregivers, it’s probably nice to be applauded for something that is often an emotionally and financially difficult job.

The Wall on the campaign Facebook page encourages people to honor caregivers with a comment. The page is very popular, with over 8,000 fans and numerous comments every day. Clearly, the topic resonates with many. The campaign represents a good integration of traditional advertising and social media. It might spawn some word of mouth too. If I knew someone who was becoming a caregiver, I would probably tell them about Genworth’s site.

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