Posted: March 21st, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Word of Mouth | Tags: Doug Hall, word of mouth | No Comments »
Doug Hall is a Professional Inventor, ‘Corporate Rebel’ and Small Business Advocate. A former Master Marketing Inventor at Proctor & Gamble, he is the founder and CEO of the Eureka!Ranch in Cincinnati an international invention and research think tank with clients such as American Express, Ford, Nike, and Walt Disney. He’s also the author of Jump Start Your Marketing Brain: Scientific Advice and Practical Ideas
and is also well-known as the ‘Truth Teller Judge’ on ABC TV first series of American Inventor, co-produced by Simon Cowell.
I met Doug recently at an event where he did a fascinating and inspiring presentation covering innovation, right/left brain thinking, effective marketing, dealing with fear and much more. Before I left I took my own fear in hand and he generously accepted my request for an interview.
Can you say a bit about the areas of marketing where word of mouth can be effective?
Yeah, there’s two elements, people need to know about us, they need to generate awareness. You can do it through marketing spend: classical advertising and you can do it through word of mouth. The right solution is a combination of the two. The challenge with it is, in order to get word of mouth its not enough to just show some clever ad, you actually have to communicate something that is meaningfully unique, in other words, something that’s interesting enough for people to actually want to tell somebody else about.
So therein lies our challenge because we tend to create adverts that are very clever and cute but they don’t say anything and its just one gigantic waste of money when we do this and so we need to do something, but it’s not enough to just deal with advertising.
If you just deal with advertising its just plain and simple too expensive in today’s world, none of us have the right amount of money, but for the bulk of your awareness you will use your advertising to spark word of mouth (as opposed to a replacement for word of mouth) by communicating a meaningful message. The problem is the community of people that do advertising don’t do advertising in this fashion. Their goal is to see how they can win awards for their great mini movies that they make! And what we need to do is we need to tell the story.
So it all starts with being meaningfully unique and if you’re in the arts this gets even more difficult because the minute we start to define ‘it’ there are many in the arts who say you’ve now lost the value of what ‘it’ was and so they have two choices: they can either get over this and start to work at helping people or they can stop whining about the fact that nobody’ll give them any money! So that’s their two options and I don’t really care which one they do! Like, don’t be whining and the doctor’s giving you a prescription of what to do and you don’t wanna do it!
Your company EurekaRanch! are really good at measuring things – some people say its hard to measure the impact of word of mouth – do you agree?
Not that I know of. Its pretty straightforward to measure. You can measure it and monitor it. We have ways of doing it, its called ‘vast diffusion modelling’, it’s a known entity to go do but you need to be able to understand how to do statistics and variable logic, that’s what it amounts to and obviously for most people they don’t know how to do any of that, but then again if I ask them, ‘How does that plane fly in the air?’ they don’t know how to do that either! It doesn’t make it less real than it is.
You are also very skilled in finding solutions to problems [Doug began inventing things from the age of 12]. Is word of mouth marketing a solution to a problem?
It is not a solution by itself, but it is part of a solution to help people get awareness in a cluttered media world. The problem we have is that when we make something, people need to find out what it is that we’ve done and we need to get that message to them and so our challenge that we face is how we can carry that message and bring it to people. So this is quite a significant challenge that exists for us to figure out how to go do that.
Which companies or people do you think are great at word of mouth and why?
Oh I don’t know that anybody’s great at it right now. Frankly we need to bring science to the field. I think there’s people that get lucky but you know in the United States its 300 million people so there’s a one in a million chance, 300 times a day that 300 people get lucky. It doesn’t mean it’s a reproducable process. I think that there’s some people who have gotten lucky, but to reproducably be able to do it, this is a very new science to go do it. It tends to be after the affect that somebody gets it rather than its something that is actually happening.
Its very new and there’s a lot of research going on. I was in a meeting all morning talking about more research in this area and more ways to go do it and there is a lot to be done. What our data shows for the first time is we’ve now figured out what kind of message is more likely to get you word of mouth. I can take two marketing messages and I can test them and I can tell you which one will be more likely to get word of mouth and by what percentage more, I know how to do that and that’s new that we can do that.
You have tons of business and innovation experience. Do you have a message for arts providers and marketers?
They’re gonna have to become whole-brain. People that are visionary in the right brain, its wonderful and its important, but at the same time, if you’re going to make it, you’re going to have to deal with the business side and I understand that growing up you had a perspective that it would be like selling out if you dealt with that stuff, well you’re gonna have to deal with it! Think of it as I want you to become a ‘Renaissance Person’. In the Renaissance, people were equal parts science as well as the arts and you need to become a Renaissance Person.
You offer a lot of great resources on your site, many of them free. Are there any links you’d like to draw our attention to?
There are audio books up at Eureka!Ranch.com and Brain Brew Radio [Wit and Wisdom on Innovation] is my radio show that spins up there 24 hours a day. Go to BrainBrewRadio.com it takes you to the radio show. It runs 24 hours a day and it’s a collection of hundreds of hours of radio show. You’ll hear all kinds of people.”
Doug thank you so much for your time.
Well you’re very welcome, I’m glad that I can help.
Posted: June 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Orchestras | Tags: community ambassador, community marketing, london symphony orchestra, new audiences, orchestra ambassador, word of mouth | No Comments »
Abreen and Elizabeth (LSO Arts Ambassador) at the EC1 Festival, Islington
Ambreen Ahmad, Community Marketing Co-ordinator at London Symphony Orchestra tells us about the ambassador programme she has been running at London Symphony Orchestra for three years: Please tell us a bit about your ambassador programme: The LSO’s Community Ambassador Scheme is made up of 8 volunteers who all live or work in the the local ‘ECI’ postcode area. This is the local area around the LSO’s home in the Barbican Centre and LSO St Luke’s – the LSO’s community education and music centre. The scheme has been running for three and a half years I have been running it for three of these. The ambassadors’ main role is to help us to promote the LSO, its concerts and activities to local audiences. Many new audiences may not have tried a classical music concert before and actually have a negative perception about it being ‘elitist’ and ‘not for them’. So our ambassadors certainly have their work cut out changing these incorrect perceptions! What’s is the most important thing your ambassadors provide or add to LSO? They provide a bridge between the LSO and our local target audience – or in other words between the organisation and actual people. The ambassadors live in the local area and know and interact with people on a regular basis. They tell people about the LSO in their day to day lives -it might be whilst picking up their child a primary school, having a drink in the pub, going to the supermarket, or community centre. These are places where our local audiences live and areas they frequent. The LSO ambassadors have access to people and places in a way that we just don’t have otherwise, they are known and have networks in the area. This work is extrememly valuable to the LSO in achieving our mission of ‘bringing the best music to the greatest number of people’. Do you think of your ambassador programme as part of marketing for LSO? Yes absolutely, I manage the scheme as part of the marketing department, I definitely think of the Community Ambassadors as an important part of our Marketing work. But it is also very much part of the Discovery (education) department too. Many of the events targeted to the local community are LSO Discovery events and projects – e.g community choir, Family Concerts, Concerts for Under 5’s etc. Although this has expanded more and more the ambassadors are also promoting our main classiocal concerts at the Barbican. It’s a mixture of marking and audience development. What do they get out of being ambassadors? We offer incentives such as complementary concert tickets, merchandise and have social get togethers. Small things like saying thank you and printing their names in concert programmes at the end of season also goes a long way. In terms of why they do what they do – one thing they all have in commom is enthusiasm to share their love of music. This is what I think makes them so effective and a great addition to our marketing team. Many don’t even take the free concert tickets unless pushed! Do they get results you can measure? It is very difficult to measure how many people have come to a concert because of a community ambassador telling them about it. When we run a special offer with discounted tickets, I can set up a code with the box office and measure tickets bought using the code. But the profile the ambassadors achieve can not be measured in the short term, it is a long term commitment, much in the same way as brand profiling. Although not directly measureable – successes include: Many of our community LSO Discovery events selling out and being over subscribed, I’m sure the ambassadoes work plays a part. We have information stalls at local festivals – when meeting people at these events it’s interesting to see how reactions to the LSO have changed over the last three years. People are asking less ‘what is the LSO?’ and more and more are wanting to know when the next event they are interested in takes place – this kind of feedback is lovely. If there money in the budget I would definitely recommend working with research professionals to try and put measurement systems in place at the beginning of ambassador projects. How much time do you spend managing them? I’m in touch with different ambassadors on a daily/weekly basis, it really depends on which project we are working on. Initially I set up group meetings every 4 weeks to keep the momentum going, but we no longer need to meet so often as many of the team have been with us for a long time now – over 3 years, so are very motivated and know what they are doing. Also, I really enjoy speaking to the ambassadors, they are a mix of really interesting individuals, they feel more like friends, so regular e-mails, phonecalls, coffees etc counts as communication but is just good fun. Is it expensive to run an ambassador programme? Not at all, it depends on the objectives. You can start small and expand, there is no reason set up costs should be expensive. The LSO’s ambassadors spend a lot of time spreading word of mouth amongst their networks, this doesn’t cost anything. We began by simply profile raising and event promotion which is relatively cheap. We now run a beginners concert club with interval receptions, the chance to meet musicians and learn about the music. We also arrange a programme of annual outdoor concert events which eats into the budget quite a lot, but is a really important audience development initiative. In an ideal world the budgets would grow with the ambitions! It also depends if you want to pay the volunteers. I think for long term ambassadors they don’t do what the do for monetary reward, its about the love of music, of enjoying meeting people, and something different outside of there usual work and life. Of course you could offer expenses and perks like free concert tickets. For short term temporary projects monetary reward may be a stronger incentive, but for the LSO scheme I think it works well as it is. Have you ever had to deal with an ambassador that is not effective in some way? Yes, but its important to remember that they are volunteers and even though you expect them to be reliable al the time it can not be enforced in the same way as for an employee. Volunteers will come and go, they have lives outside the ambassador scheme, I always value and respect this. A couple of volunteers left for almost a year and then re-joined when their circumstances changed. Others start and realise it’s not for them, but this is quite rare as I’m not afraid of telling people if ours isn’t the scheme that suits what they want at the initial interview. What tips would you give to someone who is just starting to put an ambassador programme together? • Read this website! I really wish I had had such a resource 3 years ago when I started out, it would have saved me a lot trial and error! • Be clear about your objectives – what is it you want to achieve though the scheme? • Get in touch with people in similar organisations and see if they also run an ambassador scheme. Other peoples experiences are really useful and a network of people managing similar schemes really helps with getting advise and support as you go along. Your local audience development agency can probably help put you in touch with people working in the same field. • Speak to each volunteer and understand their personal motivations for being an ambassador, if they are getting what they want out of it then you are more likely to achieve your objectives too, and are likely to retain your volunteers for longer. • Make sure they meet other people in the organization. I invite different LSO staff to meetings from time to time. Not only do the ambassadors feel more part of the organization, it means other staff also understand and value the ambassadors work- after all if you weren’t valued in your job would you do it? Its no different for volunteers. • Oh and have fun! You are likely to meet some truly dedicated and enthusiastic individuals.