30 October 2009

Can Boomers Lead an Elder Revolution?

In response to a New York Times piece in September, I tossed up a post with (much too) long excerpts from my book (first published in 2005):

Late Bloomer Boomers
advbbcover The Late Bloomer Boomer Movement is going full blast, and there’s no stopping it. The magic equation: Thirty-odd years of experience plus not feeling old and being relatively healthy plus knowing you have another quarter-century of productivity in you equals . . .

Well, we’ll see. Some pundits are predicting that Late Bloomer Boomers may leave a bigger imprint on society than the “early bloomer” Boomers who were at the top of their games twenty-five to thirty-five years ago.

Now Philip Moeller of U.S. News & World Report is contemplating some of these same issues:

Can Boomers Lead an Elder Revolution?
image … But what if, instead, an aging world turned out to be a good thing? Is this even possible? Well, nearly 80 million baby boomers are here to say that they've had a great run so far and they expect, no, they demand, that it will continue.

image … Roszak, a college teacher and author of 15 books who is now in his late 70s, has issued another rallying cry to this generation with The Making of an Elder Culture, published earlier this year. In it, he argues that the baby boomers are hardly finished making their mark on the world. "Boomers, who will usher us into senior dominance, are the best educated, most socially conscientious, most politically savvy older generation the world has ever seen," he says. "I believe that generation will want to do good things with the power that history has unexpectedly thrust upon it in its senior years. What boomers left undone in their youth, they will return to take up in their maturity."

Requisite cliché:

Okay! Sounds like a plan.

Bookmark and Share

29 October 2009

The Joy of Book and Author Promotion Circa 2009

image From: Brent Green
To: Chuck Nyren
Subject: The funny part is it's eerily accurate...

The joy of book and author promotion circa 2009:

Subject: Our Marketing Plan
by Ellis Weiner
image Let me introduce myself. My name is Gineen Klein, and I’ve been brought on as an intern to replace the promotion department here at Propensity Books … I’ve attached a list of celebrities we think would be great to blurb your book, so find out their numbers and call them up … We’d like to see you on morning talk shows like the “Today” show and “The View,” so please get yourself booked on them and keep us “in the loop.”

From: Chuck Nyren
To: Brent Green
Subject: RE: The funny part is it's eerily accurate...

That’s great. I’m spray-feeding it on Hoster Broaster.


Bookmark and Share

28 October 2009

Their personalities are far from grave.



NostraChuckus nails it again.


From my book (© 2005):


A piece from The Boston Globe:

Their personalities are far from grave
Funeral directors humor themselves at convention
By David Filipov
… He has been getting requests for personalized funerals all the time, as baby boomers “come of age,’’ as he puts it. Boomers were raised to have it their way. It is an attitude they take with them to the grave. And it has required funeral directors to evolve.

And a post from last year:

Funerals Are For The Dead
image As the old saying goes, “Funerals are for the living.” Not anymore. Now there’s a place where you can theme, decorate, and DJ from the grave (or wherever you happen to end up) – thanks to two Baby Boomers: Nancy Bush and Sue Kruskopf.

… Of course, when I die I want a funeral procession with an old rickety horse-drawn carriage, open coffin, priests with long beards in long robes waving incense, and hundreds of women dressed in black and wailing.

But that’s just me. My personal statement.

Bookmark and Share

27 October 2009

AARP Targets Media Planners

I was going to pass on blogging this – since Dick Stroud already did the honors:

AARP Video – Boomer + Interrogation 
image The video was created as a way to overcome the objections that AARP heard at the forum. It is sad to say but these objections to the older market have been around since I began writing my book and are identical to the ones I encountered in the UK. 

It is astonishing that people are still coming out with these lame excuses.

image But a gentleman from AARP Media emailed me and wanted my take on it.

So, here’s the video and the take:

I told him it would be difficult for me to gage the impact on media planners, but was happy to note that the video didn’t do anything stupid – like denigrate the target market they’re promoting. 

Way back in 2004-5, AARP was doing just that in a B2B campaign.  I wrote a chapter about it in my book, and referenced it in a post few years later:

AARP's Chicken Coop Coup?
image … The advertising campaign has one ad with ashen-faced Baby Boomers in body bags ("These days, doctors don't pronounce you dead. Marketers do."). Another shows Baby Boomers acting like testosteroned teenagers ("Outta the way, punks: older racers are the hot-rod kings!").Yet another has one of a middle-aged lady dead in a powder room (probably from overdoing it on the dance floor) with police chalk outlining her body. I don't know what the copy is because I haven't seen it. It's probably something like, "Give me wrinkle cream, or give me death!"

I just couldn’t figure out how trashing your ‘product’ was going to sell any.  And even if it did … 

More from the chapter:

advbbcover The problem is that the advertising agency, like most agencies, is very much caught up in the trendy concept of Branding (one of those buzzwords overused in the last few years, and often misunderstood), and consciously or subconsciously did a bit of branding with their client’s product.

They’ve done this by introducing and presenting the product as immature, daft, and half-dead. Quite  the  product  I’d  want  to  buy (meaning: quite the demographic I’d get all hot and bothered about advertising to).

Even if this campaign convinces advertisers and media planners to consider targeting Baby Boomers, these silly stereotypes have been reinforced and will be carried over into consumer campaigns.

The AARP Media Sales Interrogation video stays on message – so other than being a bit long, it’s fine with me.  I hope it works.

Bookmark and Share

25 October 2009

The News of IMMN

image There’s a new news web page – for the public and IMMN members.

I had my greasy fingers in a few of these stories.  But some are new to me. The profile of Stephen Reily of Vibrant Nation is fascinating (and a bit intimidating):

image Stephen graduated from Yale College, summa cum laude, and from Stanford Law School, after which he clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court.

More intimidation:

image Richard (Adler) holds a BA from Harvard, an MA from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MBA from the McLaren School of Business at the University of San Francisco.

Not profiled in the newsletter, but just as intimidating:

image Dr. Harry "Rick" Moody, Director of Academic Affairs for AARP in Washington, DC, received the 2007 Outstanding Scholar award from the Creative Longevity and Wisdom program at Fielding Graduate University. Since 2005, an outstanding scholar has been chosen for this prestigious award given in recognition for the recipient's work with the aging population.

Okay … it’s not the intimidation.  It’s the quality and expertise of so many IMMN members that makes it all worth checking out.

22 October 2009

Me vs. We Redux Redux

I guess you should peek at the original Me vs. We:

image Last week I read a piece of marketing advice: "Baby boomers have always been considered the 'me-generation,' and that doesn't change with age."

It's this type of reckless gibberish that is useless to marketers, and ultimately harmful to their clients.

And Me vs. We Redux:

A colleague sent this email:
Good story today - This Boomer Isn't Going to Apologize

I did read something about a bunch of pundits apologizing for the recession/depression or whatever we’re going through. Apparently, they think it’s all their fault because they’re Baby Boomers. (Did any generation apologize for The Great Depression? I’ll have to check the history books.  If not, it should.  Some of those evil bastards must still be alive.  Anybody over ninety-eight had better atone.)

Now there’s more:

Me Generation Baby Boomers Find Fulfillment Through Volunteerism, Family Ties
imageBaby boomers may be popularly portrayed as whiners, complainers and narcissists, but a new study by University of Massachusetts Amherst psychology Professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne says the 50-somethings are getting a bad rap.

“It’s wrong to say baby boomers are selfish and only care about staying young,” said Whitbourne. “They have a feeling of connection to younger generations and a social conscience.”

Sounds familiar. From my book:

Today, Baby Boomers are two or three times removed from being a “me” generation. What constitutes self-actualization when you are twenty-five is different than when you are fifty-five. In your twenties a person thinks they are the picture. As you get older, you see yourself more and more as a picture that is part of a bigger picture.

Talk to some folks in their twenties, thirties. They are now in that ‘me’ stage. It’s healthy, smart for them to be so. I was just like them thirty years ago, get a big bang out of them, admire their boundless creativity, energy – and self-obsession. These ‘me generation’ twentysomethings today will become a ‘we generation’ in thirty years.

(page 171, Advertising to Baby Boomers)
(c) 2004, 2007 by Paramount Market Publishing

One other pull:

Even more from Richard O. Jones:

The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of the Baby-Boomers
imageThe Baby-Boomer generation had its heyday and now begrudgingly passes the baton to the seemingly irresponsible Hip-hop generation – not that most Baby-Boomers were responsible in their youth because that’s not the case. However, Baby Boomers were the first generation to declare Women’s Liberation and experience the birth control pill. Baby-Boomers were first to experience breast implants, socially acceptable single motherhood, socially acceptable marijuana use, and to invite homosexuals out of the closet.

Bookmark and Share

21 October 2009

Kindle Kewl: Advertising to Baby Boomers

image With no warning from them, my publishers just informed me that they’ve made me very, very, very kewl.  Kindle Kewl:image

Advertising to Baby Boomers (Kindle Edition)
by Chuck Nyren (Author)
Kindle Price: $15.95 & includes wireless delivery via
Amazon Whispernet
Text-to-Speech: Enabled 

I hope my wireless ego will stay in check as it whispers through the ether.

Japan: The World's Most Mature Market

A worthwhile webinar next week:

Japan: The World's Most Mature Market image
Tuesday, October 27 Japan is the most severely affected country by demographic change but also the most advanced in terms of product development and innovation. However, they have only touched the tip of the iceberg of the huge potential of this market.

Join IMMN and Florian Kohlbacher, Ph.D., for a webinar on the challenges and opportunities of the silver market in Japan. Dr. Kohlbacher, who is currently conducting research on the business implications of demographic change, will share case studies of leading edge mature marketing activities.

imageDr. Kohlbacher is a senior research fellow with the German Institute for Japanese Studies, an adjunct research fellow at the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management at the Hamburg University of Technology, a fellow of the World Demographic Association, and an honorary board member of IMMN.

imageI contributed to an international business book co-edited by Dr. Kohlbacher: The Silver Market Phenomenon.

So did Dick Stroud:




A chunk from my chapter

Today’s advertising industry needs a minor revolution. Talented men and women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s must to be brought into the fold if you want to target the Silver Market. This includes copywriters, graphic artists, producers, video directors, and creative directors. If you plan on implementing a marketing strategy that includes Baby Boomers as a primary, secondary, or tertiary market, and you turn it over to only people in their 20s and 30s, you will forfeit the natural sensibilities required to generate vital campaigns.


A free preview (PDF).

Read the Introduction to The Silver Market Phenomenon (PDF).

And don’t miss The Webinar.

18 October 2009

Jumpin’ Jack Flash: The Newsletter

image Boomer Project’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash is a Boomer marketing newsletter.  I’ve been reading it so long that they still send it to an old email address I dumped years ago – so I don’t always see the newest issues.  Through the grapevine I heard that it linked to one of my posts a couple of months ago.

image Matt Thornhill and John Martin are the principals of Boomer Project.  I’ve known Matt for years, and he regularly shows up on my blog.

A few posts ago I said some not-so-wonderful things about a Barron’s cover story.  Mr. Martin was quoted in the article, but I didn’t mention it. 

image Thanks to Dick Stroud, I’ve now read the latest Jumpin’ Jack Flash – and oddly enough, Matt, John (or both) agree with me about the Barron’s piece: not much new there.

They’re more honest than I am.  Whenever I’m quoted in the mainstream media, I make sure to toss up a post stating that whatever it is is one of the greatest articles ever written.

14 October 2009

The Pros and Cons of Windows 7 for … Baby Boomers

I’m not a Microsoft basher.  Every so often I might rip into one of their ill-advised PR ploys or marketing campaigns.  Yes, I’ve seen this and really don’t know what to make of it:

Then there’s this:

'Family Guy' creator and Microsoft team up for Win 7 promotion

Not being a fully-fledged geek (or even a flimsy-fledged one), I have no major complaints with Vista or Office 2007

And PowerPoint 2010 looks like it might be fun.

So yours truly has been sniffing around, researching Windows 7

imageOne redesign pointed out by Michael Gartenberg made my middle-aged eyes shiver:

Opinion: The pros and cons of Windows 7 for business
computerworldoperating Gratuitous UI changes
I love the Win 7 UI, but I have a lot of experience invested in the old Windows ways of doing things, and some of the changes just seem gratuitous and make no sense to me. Also annoying are on-screen UI targets that you have to hit with your cursor but that are so tiny they make you think that Microsoft is hiring a lot of young workers who have great eyesight and/or high-resolution monitors. And using Touch and fingers to navigate is somewhat of an exercise in frustration.

If true, if this UI can’t be fiddled with, I’m not upgrading.

imageWhat if everybody over fifty who walks into a store and plays with the Windows 7 UI finds it ‘an exercise in frustration’?  What if millions and millions of people over fifty purchase the upgrade sight unseen, and can’t quite get a mouse-grip on the ‘tiny’ targets?

Even if you can bump up the graphics/fonts on the interface, why would the ‘default’ setting completely ignore the largest consumer demo for this product?

Time for my ol’ tattered book cover again …

image“It will be the Baby Boomers who will be the first to pick and choose, to ignore or be seduced by leading-edge technology marketing. There’s a simple reason for this. We have the money to buy this stuff. Experts say we’ll continue to have the money for at least the next twenty years. Write us off at your own peril.

Wouldn’t it be nice (and profitable) if software designers  helped alleviate (and not aggravate) a big issue with Baby Boomers

12 October 2009

Marketing to the Undead

More international ether, this time from Canada:
John Farquhar: marketing to the undead
image I thought I'd watch a little television this week and see how marketers see me, someone over 50. Apparently I'm dying, in constant pain, infertile, incontinent, undersexed and over-pollinated.
It’s one of NostraChuckus’ predictions:
Boomer Backlash II
imageIf every time someone over fifty sees a commercial targeting them and it’s always for an age-related product or service, pretty soon their eyes will glaze over, they’ll get itchy and grumpy.
More from Mr. Farquhar:
But of course, as conventional wisdom goes, we're not going to spend it on your product. Boomers have made their choices. We've chosen the brands we'll stick to for life. Everyone knows that. So why spend money getting us to change when we never will?
I guess it’s conventional – although I’ve been pricking holes in the no-change brand balloon since 2003.  A quote from a review of my book (the 2005 edition) by Dr. Joyce M. Wolburg of Marquette University, published in The Journal of Consumer Marketing:
A second favorite excuse of agencies is: "Baby Boomers don't change brands" (p. 52, italics in original). Nyren dismantles this excuse nicely with examples of brand switching, and he further acknowledges that in cases where loyalty to a brand does exist, marketers who do not target Boomers give them no reason to change.
Read the full review. (PDF)
John also talks about cars.  I’ve talked plenty about cars:
Big Business is behind the curve, as usual. But better late than never.
image And I yak on and on about this subject (and feature a news piece from Canada) in a recent online presentation.
One more important piece of info from marketing to the undead:
You've got a target group that's easy to reach: we still watch TV, we still read newspapers, and we listen to conventional radio. We spend a ton of time online and we're easy to find there.
That sounds familiar. A post from 2007:
How Ads Affect Our Memory
I'm often asked about media planning and Baby Boomers. My glib answer: "Who needs media planners? The 50+ Demo is the only one that soaks up all media - TV, Radio, The Web, Magazines, Newspapers, Direct Marketing, etc. Take your pick. You can't miss them."
It’s great that someone’s joining Kit in promoting advertising and marketing to Baby Boomers in Canada.

09 October 2009

Marketing to Baby Boomers Conference: Asia

As I’ve said in a previous post:

50+ marketing is exploding worldwide.
That’s a cliché-ridden statement I’ve been wanting to use for years.  Finally I can. 

imageKim Walker of Silver Group Asia is spearheading a November 2009 conference in Singapore, organized by Pacific Conferences:

Marketing to Baby Boomers Conference
imageThis 2-day conference on “Marketing to Baby Boomers” will equip you with the marketing techniques and strategies to effectively reach out to Baby Boomers today.

Pacific Conferences has lined up an impressive array of partners and sponsors:

Download the PDF.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised by all this.  After all, a few years ago I contributed to a book stuffed with huge chunks about the Asian 50+ Market:

image It is with great pleasure to inform you that our book The Silver Market Phenomenon: Business Opportunities in an Era of Demographic Change has finally been published by Springer this week. You will receive your author copy from Springer soon. I am attaching the book flyer (PDF) for your reference. Please feel free to use it to spread the word and promote the book.

image And recently I was approached by a company interested in a day-long presentation and workshop focusing on advertising and marketing to Baby Boomers. I won’t tell you what country it’s in, but what a surprise.

A worldwide phenomenon.  Sometimes I think the U.S. needs to catch up.

08 October 2009

5 Reasons Why 90% Of Social Media Efforts Fail

image I got carried away over the last few days, commenting on a post at LinkedIn.

imageWhat’s below is from a ThoseinMedia discussion thread.  You have to join LinkedIn, join the ‘group’, blah blah blah in order to read it – so I posted it here (without permission). 

ThoseinMedia was conceived by Brent Willen. The initial post in the thread is from Andrew Ballenthin

5 Reasons Why 90% Of Social Media Efforts Fail

I've been researching and writing a book on social media monetization and have seen upwards of 90% of professionals failing to get results from little or significant online efforts. After looking at over 400 professionals / businesses in the social media space and reading hundreds of how-to articles there's huge gaps. Why?

1) Lacking Zing
2) Spread Too Thin
3) Not Contagious
4) Poor Consistency
5) No Plan Stan

Feel free to leave your thoughts on why social media does not work or feel free to disagree or leave your solutions. All discussion is welcome.

Hi Andrew - is the failure rate really that high - 90%?

That's very interesting and suggests to me that social media is a creative marketing environment - some work - some don't.

So, perhaps the trick is to be highly creative AND know when to kill campaigns that aren't working?



From my book:

When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, print ad, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.

As far as all the claptrap about WOMM replacing advertising - people who are hawking that one have a slippery grip on history. Word-of-mouth marketing is nothing new. It's been around for a hundred years, since the beginning of modern advertising, always morphing into various forms. The latest morphs: online social networking and blogs.

There is plenty of marketing and advertising to be done on the Web, and who knows what forms they will take over the next ten years. We'll all be surprised. But word-of-mouth as the primary driving force of marketing? I think not.

Remember this:  Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.

And this video explains it all:



So Chuck your argument is the reason 90% of social media projects fail is because it isn't such a great promotional device after all?

And that we all get carried away with the one that did work (like google) and forget all those that failed (like, err, can't remember all those dot coms any more).

Is that a fair summary?


That's fair. I love the web - but I'm not wild about social media for marketing/advertising.

Keeping an eye on social media is good so you can be on top of it all, good for research, good for some promotion - but it's not going to replace advertising. A great product/service site beats social media. Here's a funny and trenchant post by a friend of mine:


Thanks Chuck - just read your friend's blog - I'm with you both on this.

Another fad I see developing is non html flipping books software - everyone is now trying to shove their magazines into this super cool format - which is really just saying that if they built web pages that offer a forward and back scroll, then that would improve the user experience.

I reckon flipping book software will be dead within 12 months - we'll just get better web browsers and build better websites.

Perhaps the real impact of social media is to improve traditional forms of advertising too?

No kidding about the non-html magazine format. The problem is that mag publishers push the PDF button - which is fine for print (then you send it to the printers) but not necessarily for the web. Here's part of an email I sent to a client last week:

The issue is ease-of-use and readability. I don’t know much about the program you use to render the final (PDF?) layout into an online version. The problem is that it’s hard to read, hard to negotiate. A straight-up PDF is great – but it loses a generation or two with this fancy pseudo-magazine widget. Maybe the technology I’m envisioning doesn’t exist.

A program needs to be invented where it bypasses PDF, you can do a magazine layout and turn it into something that is more like HTML or better, and is specifically for the web so the fonts aren’t small and spongy. PDFs are for printing.

It’s great that ********’s layout is like a magazine, that you can turn pages, that you can hyperlink ads – but it’s so difficult to read. Assume that most people don’t have huge, state-of-the-art monitors. It probably looks great to your designer.

If a print mag puts up a version of their magazine on the web using this software – fine. It’s secondary, for convenience. But if you only have an online magazine, it has to be pristine and the layout has to be specifically for the web.


yep with you now - thanks Chuck - really useful comments

"Contests" of user-generated work are almost ALWAYS disappointing to brands in my opinion. On our team at Behance, we have been discussing this a lot! We are starting to think of the Behance Network (behance.net) as a source for pre-populating a "sponsored gallery" for the purposes of brand engagement (as an alternative to a disappointing spec-like contest). Examples of the concept: typographyserved.com, fashionserved.com

Your 5 points are the reason why "contests" (a common "social media effort") often fail...


Have to disagree with Chuck's comment about people ultimately concluding that more honest/useful info comes from ads. Word of mouth from people you REALLY know and trust always has been and always will be the most effective tool.

That said, while social media has the potential to expand the circle of influencers, most people will still be influenced mainly be the ones they know, not by the fake posters.

For me - I like 'word of mouth' in the form of comparison reviews of a product/service/organization by sites I have grown to trust and value and as a consumer of an incredible amount of trade journals and magazines - I hate the page-flipping formats that have become all the rage. As others have observed - I don't need to spend time working with clumsy navigation formats. And for social media - I think it comes down to an individuals bandwidth. Some social media portals/tools demand too much time to fully engage in and currently the selection is still very broad - too much waffle is usually just too much.

Love this discussion. I’d have to say I’d flip the order of Andrew’s list and place #5 at the top. I think failure often occurs when we become enamored with the tactic and forget the plan. When considering a social media effort as part of a marketing mix I think we need to ask ourselves the following:

1) Are our customers and prospects using social media or are we just putting something out there because we, as marketers, are engaged with it?

2) How does social media fit in context with the overall strategy and to what extent do we think a social effort will help achieve our business goals? Most importantly, how are we going to measure success?

3) Are we willing to commit the resources necessary to do it right?

I think there can be some real value in a social media effort as part of the marketing mix. But for me it still comes down to the basics -- understanding the consumer and how to best engage them in the media they use in order to meet our marketing & business goals. Social media is just another tool in the toolbox and must be strategically integrated into the overall mix in order to be effective.

Excellent points, Lori. Personally, I'd put #2 at the top. But maybe that's just my world!

If 90% failed, does that imply that 10% succeeded? According to what success criteria or objectives? Aren't we really talking about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Where are the concrete numbers? How many $$$ spent on a social media initiative resulted in how many contacts, or sales, or...

How did this compare with other communication programs and what were the tangibles that resulted?

Personally, I'll go with 74 angels.

Sorry I haven't been around, present research and writing on the book has kept me away for a bit. Thanks everyone for sharing such excellent challenges, insights and personal views. This post has generated over 2,000 page views on the blog and some 50+ comments from LinkedIn members since its posting on Monday morning.

If you go to the full blog post there will be over 40 comments which have expanded on this topic as this discussion topic was meant to do http://bit.ly/bnypg . My goal was not to give a definitive or empirical list but to engage your views and to be of any assistance if possible with what I’m discovering during my book research process.

To address the 90% question a few people have asked. What I've seen during my research is that the 90% are putting significant/insignificant time into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks and the medium is consuming time with negligible or no returns for their effort. The 10% that are receiving value are in some way coming close to an ROI that validates the effort invested.

I take a common sense old school approach to success criteria - if you were to invest the same hours and effort into another public relations, sales or advertising channel would the results be acceptable? I'm seeing in most cases the answer is no, the results are not on par with what other in person networking, offline strategic alliances, good old fashion promoting and sales calls achieve for the same hours and effort (social media like offline networking seldom delivers quick wins).

Thanks again for a very lively, challenging and sincere engagement with this discussion. I'm learning lots from everyone. I do strongly believe social media is a valid communication channel, we just have a long ways to go to understand it as well as other communications channels we use in business. Seldom is the pursuit of excellence conquered over night.

"Word of mouth from people you REALLY know and trust always has been and always will be the most effective tool."

I'm a bit confused by this statement. A tool for what? By whom? A tool you use personally as a consumer? A friend buys a product, likes it, and tells you about it. That’s great. But what does that have to do with professional marketing/advertising?

My confusion is probably due to confusion defining concepts. Word of mouth is simply consumers talking amongst themselves about products and services. We've all been doing that since the beginning of modern advertising, for over one hundred years. Actually, it's been going on since the creation of civilization and trade - for thousands of years. It's nothing new.

Now there's something called Word of Mouth Marketing where 'citizen marketers' march into the ether and other places and, for baubles and beads and often more, create clumsy illusions that they're giddy over some product or service.

Why any advertiser would want to mess with good ol' honest word-of-mouth is beyond me.

So your product or service is getting some sort of positive response from users/consumers? Maybe a cult is forming. Or something. People are talking.

Take advantage of this. You'd be stupid not to. Bring in the PR professionals, the marketing people. Reference it in advertising campaigns. Support this grass roots excitement.

But trying to create buzz out of nothing? Paying shills to hand out lipstick and gum, paying bloggers for their so-called objective opinions?

I often wonder who's really being taken to the cleaners with Word of Mouth Marketing. Consumers … or advertisers?

But don't believe me. This is just some social media site, and I'm just somebody leaving a comment. Who knows if someone's paying me to trash word-of-mouth marketing ...

One thing's for sure: *You'll* never know.

Hi Chuck,

I'm totally with you about paid, veiled, WOMM. My point was that I suspect that most (many? Don't know if it is most yet) people who are likely to buy things based on web-based recommendations are by now sophisticated enough to know not to trust everything they read online. So the effective WOM (from the viewpoint of building trust and sales) is that which comes to a prospective customer from someone they actually know and have reason to trust.

In terms of bloggers and "review sites" I think that people are unlikely to trust reviews that merely say "Try it; it is great!". They look for reasons to try it. That's why it is so powerful when sites like Amazon have people rate the usefulness of reviews. So if someone is being paid to promote a product, they at least need to be able to come up with reasoned arguments for WHY the product is good. If the product is a piece of garbage, they will have a harder time doing so, and will thus not be very effective.

That said, I've always thought media literacy is a crucial subject that needs to be taught in schools. Now we need to extend that to online media literacy, to ensure that people DO realize that much of what they read online is paid, veiled advertising.

"Word of mouth is simply consumers talking amongst themselves about products and services." Correct. Where social media has impact is merely in that it makes it easier for such talking amongst themselves to be among many more friends than previously. I wouldn't call a friend in another city to tell them how delighted I am with a paritcular product or service, but I may well post my reaction on a social media site, with the result that all my friends hear it instead of just those I see regularly.

Laugh out loud at your comments Chuck...

Andrew, my role life seems to be the summariser - so to summarise you are saying that social media is great for research and forming opinions about ideas and service - but pretty rubbish at everything else?

If so, we are the lucky ones - using linkedin for research and networking - the advertisers and perhaps the social media companies themselves are unlucky and investors should keep their money away from social media...?


90% Failure Rate?

Based on what measurement? Social media is unique to the user. "One size fits all" simply doesn't apply.

It's the first communications tool that:
1. We get to invent as we go along.
2. Is continually evolving, shifting and changing.
3. It's a tool where we can learn more from something that didn't work, than what worked.
4. That said, "What worked" is based on your needs, not the measurement of others.
5. Finally and most important, there are no, repeat NO experts on social media.

I think we're still using analog measurement for a very digital medium.

If you're adding up the score, make sure Google is categorized under traditional advertising/marketing.

Google search is the new Yellow Pages. Paid Google search is like a half-page ad in The Yellow Pages. It has nothing to do with social media. It's the big boys playing with the big boys - good ol' fashioned big business.

And, of course, you would want people to click on an official web site for your product or service. An official web site is traditional media/marketing, not social media/marketing. It's a professionally produced marketing tool. Sure, you can incorporate a bulletin board (archaic for social network site), and that would be social media marketing, maybe even WOMM - but it's of secondary or tertiary or ... fourthindary importance to the site.

Minus Google from the social media results and you have a 99% failure rate.


Posts of mine that have to do with WOMM:

Harris Poll & Advertising & Social Networking

A Smart Approach