Word of Mouth and the Web

If she hadn’t been my sister, I would have wanted to kill her. 

"It was just so amazing" she continued "Here we are in the Time Warner building with 4 stories of glass looking out over the lights of New York city – that’s the back drop.  There are just a select few cocktail tables in semi-circle.  We’re being served everything from lobster spring rolls to mini cheeseburgers, sipping on a Cosmo. And out she walks – it’s just me, a select group of people and Sarah McLachlan, barefoot, with a grand piano." 

Yup – it was a private performance by Sarah McLachlan.  A select number of "press" people were invited to the event.  It was the kick off of the CitiR/AAdvatageR cardmembers Private Pass concert series promotion.   My sister, who works for several NY publications, was invited as a guest. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled for her because she’s an even bigger Sarah M. fan than I am.   I was considering letting her live, then she dropped the kicker.

"Oh – and the goodie bags?  you open them up and guess what’s inside"   At this point she gleefully produces said goodie bag and pulls out a brand spanking new….Nano.

That hurt. 

But while my face was greener than the witch in Wicked,  I had to give credit to Citigroup.   Their Private Pass cardmember concert program is nothing short of brilliant – private concerts with everyone from Mary J. Blige (not Mary K. Blige as my sister put it.  I patiently explained Mary K. is a cosmetics company, Mary J. is an R&B singer) Dave Matthews, Tony Bennett and Aerosmith.   

Only cardmembers can attend these concerts.  This is a brilliant example of word of mouth advertising.   Create something that is worthy of being talked about – tie it in with the brand (exclusivity, VIP status, hip musical acts)  and provide a trigger for that word of mouth (private concert for Press people and online PR campaign).

Well, it worked.   I heard about the event, I want to go see these private performances – but I have to get the credit card first.  As luck would have it, I am not happy with my current credit card provider and am a prime candidate for the picking.

In the press releases online (Search engines love online press releases – you are using PRweb aren’t you?)  they have a url you can click to to learn more about the concert series –here it is

Here’s where the brilliant strategy breaks down….

When you go to this private pass website – you can see the concerts and buy tickets.  But you can ONLY buy them with your Citi/AAdvantage credit card.   

Gotcha – I’m there – I want to learn more about the card and I want to sign up so I can buy these concert tickets.   There’s just one problem – nowhere – that I could see (and I looked REALLY hard) on the site, is there a direct link that takes you to either specific information on the card or a way to sign up.  (there are some legalese links at the bottom of the page but they are tiny and virtually invisible and surrounded by negative verbiage)

They got part of it right – for current members, the action they want them to take is to buy concert tickets – great job.   Slap on the back.  Well done.

But the whole point of the Sarah M. concert was to generate buzz, to spread word of mouth – it is this website that they are sending everyone to.   So – what’s the main point of the campaign?  Yes, part if it is to keep current members happy and loyal – and this is a website for them.  But my guess is the main reason for the campaign and the hoopla is to GET MORE PEOPLE TO SIGN UP FOR THE CARD.

If you’re driving all this traffic to this website, why not have a big fat link that says…."not currently a card holder?  click here to sign up and you, too can attend these fabulous concerts."    

This could take them to a landing page that reiterates the fabulous concerts and also lists out the other benefits of this credit card with a form right there where they can sign up.

When putting together a word of mouth campaign – you must ask and answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this word of mouth campaign?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Are you providing a trigger that is worthy of being talked about?
  • Does the event tie back in directly with your brand?
  • What vehicle can people use to spread the word?
  • What is the ultimate action you want people to take?
  • Have you planned a scenario or scenarios that include both online and offline efforts?  Do you plan persuasive pathways from word of mouth trigger to conversion point?  Is it clear and easy for people to take the action you want them to take?

Ok – off to sulk and play Adia and pretend I was there.


This entry was posted in How women use the web, Marketing strategy, Word of Mouth Advertising and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Word of Mouth and the Web

  1. Michele says:

    Fantastic post!! And you DO know where this has to go, don’t you? In the word-of-mouth section to YOU KNOW WHAT!
    (Finally I get to tell YOU about writing something!) LOL

  2. Lisa R says:

    LOL, I find that banter between you two hilarious now that I have context for it;)

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  5. I’m fond of sharing comments and reactions to my friends about a specific product, and I didn’t know before that there’s already a term for it – word-of-mouth advertising. It’s really going on these days! But now I know that it’s not just about personal talks, it’s also about online conversations. I’ve been seeing it over the social networks, and I’ve been doing it also without noticing! It’s the virtual reality now, and I think that I need to cope with it.

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