The method to our madness.

If you’re unfamiliar with word of mouth marketing, you might wonder how we do what we do. Besides sheer brilliance and mad skills, we do have a process that has been meticulously crafted over the years.

Our process boils down to four distinct stages: Focus, Design, Delivery and Report. If you’ve already completed any of these steps, we can jump in and do only what’s needed without charging you for work you’ve already accomplished. We’re nice like that.

Stage 1: Focus

First we review all available strategic, marketing and product information. We supplement all that with our own market and ethnographic research. In other words, we do our homework.

Brand story line. All research gets synthesized into potential brand story lines. Each potential story line is passed through our Interesting/Relevant/Authentic (I/R/A) filters developed specifically for the target audience. Is the story interesting to Advocates—the 10% of the North American population who influence the other 90%? Is it relevant to the Advocate’s audience? And is it authentic to how the Advocate understands the brand?

We don’t stop there. From the perspective of our target audience we ask: “Who Gives a Flip”? (WGAF) We tackle all of these questions with complete honesty and some gnashing of teeth. If the answer is “no” to any one of them, the story line is dropped. It’s all necessary and worth the effort because in the end we wind up with a compelling story people want to share within their circles of influence.

At this point we might have two to five story lines. We take them into the field for ethnographic testing to find out how each story resonates with our target audience. The winning story line is then refined with relevant input from all client sources.

Leadership groups. These are the pools of people we draw our Advocates from. In the case of our Chocolate Milk program, our leadership group was high school coaches. For every program, leadership groups are determined by the brand story and by the intersection of three strategic criteria:

  • Brand advocates
  • Product usage
  • How and when your product is distributed

The leadership group comprises people who fit into all three criteria. This group is the most effective when it comes to identifying our Advocates.

With our story line and leadership group in place, let’s move on to the next stage.

Stage 2: Design

Now that the story has been defined, our strategic and creative teams collaborate to design a comprehensive activation plan that puts us in the places where we can start conversations.

The Activation Plan. It’s the blueprint for everything we do to seed the story, and we think it through thoroughly. We look for appropriate situations for having face-to-face conversations without interrupting or intercepting people (which is rude and doesn’t work anyway). We also search for the most effective online conversations to join or for opportunities to start our own.

Activation is about seeding the story in places where our potential Advocates naturally are, making sure each tactic stays true to the I/R/A and WGAF filters. Taking into consideration scope, budget and timeframe, we design the most compelling activation plan that exposes the product to the largest number of potential Advocates. We rank each tactic based on anticipated effectiveness and cost. Those with a low index drop off the list. Our goal is to get the highest number of quality conversations possible with the lowest cost per conversation.

Identifying, Recruiting and Engaging Advocates. An Advocate isn’t one person who’s influential on every topic within their social circle. (Who wants to hang out with that person?) Advocates are all sorts of different people, but they do share at least three characteristics:

  • They love to share stories with friends and acquaintances
  • They are intrinsically motivated to share what they know
  • They enjoy learning new things

People become influential when they’re really interested, even passionate, about certain things. In fact, Advocates self-select according to:

  • Their interests
  • The interests of the people in their social circle
  • Their experience in the subjects they’re interested in

Just because someone is recognized as a “go-to” person by their friends for information on cosmetics or beer, they might not be thought of for the latest on hair products or wine. It depends on what they get excited talking about. Our job is to seed our story among people who have a high index for influence in your specific product area. Once we start telling our story in interesting, relevant situations, our Advocates will be drawn to us naturally. They’ll want to know more, to try something new, to have inside information to share with others. They will take our story and make it their own.

Once Advocates internalize the story, they start sharing it. Word spreads like wild fire.

We stay in touch with our first group of Advocates, so we can share more information and keep them engaged in your brand story line. Of course we’re always looking for new Advocates in other pockets within our geographies so we can move to new areas.

Stage 3: Delivery

The delivery stage is where the rubber meets the road. In fact, Fizz has more people involved in delivery than any other function in the office.

Building the movement. With the program design now activated, tactical elements are put into play to recruit Influencers and to build the story. We pay attention to the number of face-to-face conversations happening within our target audience and, if applicable, within any related groups.

The Fizz team manages all aspects of the activation plan from setting up the activation events to training and managing our conversationalists.

We curate your street persona by:

  • Finding the right people to tell the story
  • Managing those people and the way the story spreads
  • Implementing talkable events
  • Developing partnerships that extend brand talkability
  • Getting the right people to try the product in the right environment

And we can manage it online by:

  • Acting as the online voice
  • Managing the online brand community
  • Finding and vetting the perfect bloggers for the brand then becoming their best friend
  • Helping bloggers with compelling content points and writing prompts

Stage 4: Report

Every program Fizz designs has built-in mechanisms and touch points that allow us to measure movement. So even the report stage is a living, breathing part of our process.

Conversation begins and builds over the first seven to nine months. During this time we see sales spikes, which begin to even out and build significantly in the later part of implementation. At some point we will see an ignition point in the program, when sales will significantly increase and continue to do so exponentially.

Here are some highlights within the report stage:

Feedback and Measurement. One of the things that sets Fizz apart from other word of mouth agencies is the daily face-to-face conversations we have in the field. Our Market Managers are out every day sharing stories about the brands we work with. Our reporting is designed to be a continuous feedback loop. Each “report” (instance of activity reported by a Fizz Market Manager) is reviewed independently and assessed for effectiveness of the activity, potential influence, credibility, number of interactions and quality of the target. Extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses are included.

Client Access. Our clients have anytime access to our online Conversation Tracking System that shows every event, both executed and planned. It tracks the number of attendees at an event, the number of conversations and the number of converted Advocates. We also store all photographs and videos from our activation activities on the system, so the team can have a visual sense of the program. Not only that, but we hold weekly or bi-monthly status meetings with the client team and provide written status updates.

As you can see, word of mouth marketing is akin to rocket science. Okay, maybe not. But there’s definitely more to the discipline than meets the eye. If you have any questions about how we do what we do, feel free to contact us. We love talking about this stuff.