Blogs deliver ‘word of mouth’
Tuesday, June 17th, 2003
Joe Senft, a marketing executive in Europe, sent comments about my Vienna paper on hubness and passion.
1. I know that some clients, particularly those in high-involvement
(consumer electronics, financial services, automotive) or restricted categories
(alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pharmaceuticals) would ache to talk with you
afterwards, to understand better this spiffy “hubness” factor.
2. Personally, I like to find and use new terms as they appear in the industry,
particularly those which add incremental value such as “passion”
However, because the world of web marketing continues, frustratingly, to be
misunderstood and just plain-old ignored by major marketers, I wonder if it
would help your cause to describe passion and hubness using terms usually
applied to mainstream media. For example: “affinity”, “index”, and “loyalty”.
These big-media terms may not be sufficiently precise to describe what happens
on blogs. However, using them would help clients, marketers, and media
planners to be more receptive to your message.
Go ahead and use the terms “passion” and “hubness”, but make these subordinate
to vocabulary used by major advertisers and major media.
3. While we’re on the subject of media vocabulary, there’s one particular term
which is very often used to sell advertising campaigns in mainstream media…
but which is actually very seldom delivered! Word-of-mouth. Of course, I
don’t have to remind you that this is precisely what blogs do best.
Whilst showing belonging by referring to blogs using standard media terms,
reveal the distinction of blogs — not in terminology — but in results
delivered. Right now, I guarantee you, somebody in New York is selling a :30
spot or a billboard campaign by saying that “its unique creative execution will
generate word-of-mouth”. It certainly can. Just look at the Super Bowl spots
you referenced. But only a truely naive person would believe that a memorable
TV spot, alone, creates as indellible an impression as 100,000 people
discussing that TV spot on 100 web sites, on line.
I would move word-of-mouth — the Achille’s heel of big media — to the fore of
your argument and justify this with affinity, loyalty, passion, and hubness.
After a right-good bashing, I would then return to show that blogs extend the
value of mainstream media — both paid and unpaid (public relations).
4. I liked the way your speech takes a swipe at mainstream media when it says, “So
what if you can reach 80%… for free if every competitor” can too? This line
sounds great and I bet many heads nodded with empathy when you said it.
But the solution to clutter and fragmentation is not necessarily blogs; indeed,
special interest magazines and web sites are already referred to by some media
departments as “hubs” because they enjoy extremely high affinities, if not
large audiences (skate shop owners or expatriates or people who are especially
fond of cats).
What’s more, in many categories, particularly in retail, in FMCG and in
automotive, share of voice in mainstream media continues to be a key
determinant of sales volume and marketshare.
I wondered if some borish big-media type might not pick a fight with you over
this “So what?” statement. Why not pull the carpet out from under him by
refocusing the argument on the word-of-mouth that blogs deliver best?