Word Of Mouth Marketing Isn't Effective If Your Product Sucks

from the just-saying... dept

Way too many people seem to think that "word of mouth marketing" is about getting others to spread your marketing message. That is, they think it's about putting words into the mouths of others. But that's not true at all. Real word of mouth marketing is about building a great product, and then letting your customers pass on the news however they see fit. If there's anything to do on the "marketing" side, it's merely to enable the tools for your biggest fans to spread the word, and then get the hell out of the way. However, it appears many marketers still don't understand this concept.

Reader Aaron deOliveira writes in to point out a story about Hollywood studios apparently giving up on word of mouth marketing campaigns targeted at "faith-based" audiences promoting certain messages that the studios hoped would resonate with folks who are religious. In the article, they toss up all sorts of reasons why such campaigns haven't done all that well, but deOliveira points to a blog post by Ben McConnell where he makes a different assertion: perhaps all those word of mouth campaigns failed because the movies just weren't that good. It's just that the studios are so sure of their product that they never even noticed it. So, once again, it goes back to this: word of mouth marketing is never going to make a lick of difference if your product sucks. Rather than focusing on such things, concentrate on making a good product first -- and then worry about the marketing campaign. And if the campaign fails -- recognize that maybe it's got something to do with the product.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John Thomas, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:25am

    CUstomers

    The article is exactly right. If I find a product I like, I let others know about it. If I get stuck with junk though, why would I send others to it? That is silly.

    JT
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:36am

    I recently came across a great example of this.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=x9HSaVGnCzM

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:37am

    anecdote

    I was going to put this little anecdote in the advertisement article recently posted but it seems to fit better here.

    The only reason I own "I am Legend" on HD-DVD (yes I know) is because of proper word of mouth. I saw the trailer for it and I thought it was just another serious movie, like "The Pursuit of Happyness". I never would have seen it if it wasn't for my manager telling me what the real story line was.

    The exact opposite could be said. In the past I have passed on quite a few movies whose trailers looked good but people I knew said it sucked.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    www.custompcmax.com, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:39am

    You can create some buzz about anything, with enough effort. But, if your product sucks, the buzz will go away and you will be forgotten.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Tom The Toe, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:55am

    Word Of Mouth Works Both Ways

    If you run across a great product or service you will most likely tell 10-20 people how wonderful it is. If you run across a crappy product or service you will probably tell 80-100 people to make sure they don't believe the hype.

     

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  6.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:57am

    word of mouth works in all cases

    it just may not work the way you want it to.

    if your product or service is great, it works to your advantage as people spread the word that it's great.

    if your product sucks, it works to your disadvantage as people spread the word that your product is junk or that you company is a bunch of thieves.

    in either case, it worked, and people got the message.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Matt, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 8:28am

    its not just word of mouth, it's all marketing

    You're dead on, but this is representative of all marketing

    This is why MS lobbies so hard and pushes so much marketing, why open source barely has to advertise at all, etc.

    The better you are, the more quality and long-term you seek to improve a company, the less word of mouth is actually necessary....people can continually find referrals to increase business and only minimally have to put in effort to continually increase a customer base if a product/offering is good, in any business.

    AKA the reputation precedes itself.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Case in point. The "documentary" (with severely distorted "facts") pushed as entertainment... "Expelled".

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Kilgore Trout, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Re:

    Or "An Inconvient Truth"

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    a $10 ticket?, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 9:55am

    Would you

    Basically all those Hollywood uber players don't understand the concept of trust. If I recommend a bad movie to a friend I'm telling him to throw away $10. He's not going to trust me much after that. Trust resonates with audiences, not catch phrases.

     

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  11.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 10:05am

    Ferengi Rule of Acquisition

    Ferengi Rule of Acquisition
    #44 Never confuse wisdom with luck.
    #57 Good customers are as rare as latinum; Treasure them.
    #69 Ferengi are not responsible for the stupidity of other races.
    #82 The flimsier the product, the higher the price.

    All are applicable in this instance.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Pro, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Re: its not just word of mouth, it's all marketing

    Except that MS actually DOES create top notch products - This is what people tend to misundersand... I've been in software for 20 years now and can tell you that everyone else's products pretty much suck. The idea that MS sucks, is actually word of badmouth marketing, by everyone else who isn't smart enough to compete.

     

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  13.  
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    asdf, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 11:08am

    How is this tech dirt? :P

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 11:17am

    It's funny and sad...

    That this has to be explained in the first place. What next? A post about how playing with fire burns???

     

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  15.  
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    Valkor49, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    Re: It's funny and sad...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypodermic_needle_model

    Marketers almost have no choice but to believe in the Hypodermic Model of communication. Their paychecks depend on telling their employers "I said good things about your product; people went out and bought your product." They are locked into one directional communication.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Nasch, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    Re: anecdote

    I saw the trailer for it and I thought it was just another serious movie, like "The Pursuit of Happyness". I never would have seen it if it wasn't for my manager telling me what the real story line was.

    Because serious movies, you know.... suck.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: its not just word of mouth, it's all marketing

    everyone else's products pretty much suck

    thank you for remaining objective

     

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  18.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Re: It's funny and sad...

    Unfortunately, few people in the industry seem to realise that quality has an effect. It reminds me of the stories late last year about how disappointing DVD sales were for a lot of the big blockbusters - Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, Fantastic Four 2, etc.

    They seemed to blame everything from a shrinking market to piracy but never attached the real reason - all of those movies were terrible, and most people don't buy DVDs of movies they don't like. Notice how mainstream Hollywood's doom and gloom stories are conspicuously absent this year now that good movies are appearing. Spidey 3 - terrible reviews, disappointing box office. Iron Man - glowing reviews, exceeds expectations. It shouldn't be so hard to see the connection.

    This all applies double when your movie is aimed at a close-knit niche audience (as the "faith-based" movies mentioned in the article were. By their nature, "faith-based" will put off a lot of people who aren't part of that faith. If you also insult that audience by making poor product, you won't see profits unless you have a clever marketing campaign. "Word of mouth" ain't clever unless you have a specific hook (e.g. Blair Witch Project, which a lot of people didn't enjoy but still made a lot of money. I did enjoy it, for the record).

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: its not just word of mouth, it's all marketing

    Pro -> Except that MS actually DOES create top notch products

    Heh, that's pretty funny.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Mike Stidham, Jun 3rd, 2008 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Ferengi Rule of Acquisition

    You left out one...

    IIRC, it's #47,

    Faith can move mountains...of inventory.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Mike Freeman, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:15am

    Bad wom spreads the fastest

    I recently posted on this. Yelp can be so hard on businesses because people like to write bad things more than good things.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: its not just word of mouth, it's all marketing

    Oh, you must mean Vista!

    Wait a minute...that's not top notch, it's a mistake. Just wait for Windows 7. Now THAT will be top notch!

    Perhaps you mean Microsoft's newly minted, bought and paid for ISO standard OOXML. Now THAT's top notch!

    So top notch that not even Microsoft can make a real product that supports it. You just can't get any more top notch than that!

    ttfn

    John

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Don Bates, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 9:13am

    Word of Mouth Marketing

    I've been in the public relations world for more than 30 years and if there's one truth I've learned in all that time it's that performance (i.e., good product, good service, good film, good game, etc.) is the touchstone of good public relations and word-of-mouth has always been a part of the mix. Recall the old adage: You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. On the other hand, it's also true that as a result of puff and propaganda you can seduce all kinds of people to do all kinds of things that defy logic and reason. Look at politics. More germane, recall what circus impresario P.T. Barnum (1810 – 1891) said that gave Hollywood its first hint about how to drum up audiences for lackluster flicks: "There's a sucker born every minute." So there are at least two perspectives from which word of mouth marketing can be pursued. Which one does your organization favor? Which one do you?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Lloyd Duggan, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Word of mouth marketing

    People are going to talk whether businesses want them to or not. Word of mouth is a natural process that's been going on forever. There are plenty of people railing about the crappy products and shoddy service that most businesses put out on the market. The key concept of word of mouth marketing is to influence ongoing conversations in a way that will cause people to talk about your product brand or service in a positive way. And the best way to generate positive word among consumers is the old fashioned way..to earn it by providing great products and/or knock your socks off service.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Mister Bates, Jun 7th, 2008 @ 1:34am

    Word of mouth marketing

    This is why there is such an emphasis on first week takings.. How many mug punters have we sucked in, before the real truth about this slip-shod pig=swill gets out?. I am legend was pretty average and good have been x2 as good, possibly x4 if they didn't insist on having a big star and big set pieces. I thought he became leader of the MPAA (Zombies) at the end. Ho-hum .. have to re-make it myself, with the proper storyline.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    jamassedor Morris, Jun 13th, 2010 @ 9:12pm

    thanks
    Those were the days when financial news occupied the gray back pages of newspapers.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    dolon, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:43am

    film

    i like this blog,
    We provide exclusive access to top grade independent film projects and producers.
    just visit- http://www.filmproductioninvestments.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    YouTube MP3 Downloader, Sep 8th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Agree

    I have to agree with your opinion that this type of marketing will help you only if are trying to promote decent products and I think it concerns not only movies but everything else. I like how you put everything into words and explained your thoughts. I must say it's a brilliant article. Thank you very much for sharing it.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    AVI to MP4 Converter, Oct 6th, 2011 @ 6:35am

    Hello!

    I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your blog so much! It is really a good one!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    play mp4, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 2:55am

    Hi!

    This article is so interesting for me to read. I just want to thank the author for sharing it here! Terrific and very useful information!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Vob Player, Oct 21st, 2011 @ 3:16am

    Just stopping by to say the post is really good.
    Thanks so much, there must be much more of such.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    marilynlucas11, Oct 28th, 2011 @ 2:36am

    download mkv player

    Ah, that's an amazing post!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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