Brains on Fire Book Revisited Part 3: First Conversations

via @zixiangchen

via @zixiangchen

In third installment of revisiting the Brains on Fire book three years later (the first two are here and here), we’re taking a look at the “first conversations” when it comes to starting a word of mouth program.

Sadly, not much has changed in the marketing industry in the past three years on this subject. We have seen a huge rise in crowd sourcing, which I guess you could put in this category, but not in the context that the book talks about. Unfortunately, agencies are still addicted to the reveal – not only with consumers, but with their clients as well. They take in the information and determine what they’re solving for, develop the brief, develop concepts and then when it comes to launch time it’s “TA-DA!!!!” We go off in our little corner of the world and work quietly and then when the reveal comes, we expect the world to stop what they’re doing and fall all over themselves in astonishment.

But they don’t.

The beautiful thing about having those first conversations with the customer is now they feel like they’re a part of the process. Like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Like they’re in on the secret. And when you’re the first to have a piece of information, what do you naturally want to do? Tell others. By letting customers know that this WOM program is coming, we are seeding the idea with them and their networks. They are keeping an eye on us in anticipation of the launch, because they know it’s coming. So when it’s launch day and it’s time to open the doors, (virtually or literally), there’s a line waiting to get in, instead of a ghost town.

That part about competing for people’s attention is never going away. And transparently seeding your efforts just gives you a leg up on all the noise out there. What’s happening is you are actually using word of mouth to spread the word about the word of mouth program that’s coming. In other words, eating your own dog food.

It’s simple. It’s effective. And it’s almost always overlooked. So don’t forget to have those important first conversations with the passionate ones and the influentials ones. The success of your hard work depends on it.

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