Opening a word of mouth conversation with kindness

By Ted Wright August 12, 2019


By Scott Jenson

Recently, a word of mouth marketing conversation was saved with a bag of cookies. Today I want to show you how conversations and kindness go together.

I’ve been working on a program to to raise awareness of the high quality made-to-order food at our client’s chain of convenience stores.

Our target audience was businesses that maintain a fleet of trucks – likely customers for our convenience stores.

We had a lot of early success in introducing ourselves and telling the client’s story, but always ran into obstacles when we saw a sign that said “no soliciting.”

I was placing a call to a large lawn care company – their fleet filled the space of two football fields – when I saw the dreaded “no soliciting” sign. I felt a twinge of anxiety about the situation I was entering – it might even be hostile.

Walking into a small foyer ringed with offices, I spoke to the first person who acknowledged my presence, a man in his mid-40s who showed years of hard work in his lined face. He looked me up and down, noticing the logo on my shirt, and promptly asked “what do you want?”

The jig was up! I was there to help them, but I knew I was being viewed as a salesperson.

Show me the cookie kindness

Seeing the look of disdain on the man’s face, I suddenly remembered the fresh-baked cookies I held in my left hand. While you never want to start a brand conversation with a gift (it tends to take the air out of your conversation), in this case it seemed like the only way I was going to be able to connect with this obviously agitated man.

“I brought you cookies!” I blurted out, sticking a fistful of the delicious baked goods in his face.

The man’s face softened. “Well, thank you. Most folks just bring me complaints and bills. What’s the occasion?”

What followed was one of the best and most fruitful conversations of the market blitz we were running, resulting in access to the general manager of the company and some valuable follow-up meetings. The conversations created a solid foundation for spreading word of mouth about our client’s offerings across the city.

Without that little bit of kindness, that little bit of care for the gatekeeper of a much larger organization, we would’ve crossed them off the list and missed an enormous opportunity.

It’s the thought that counts

It doesn’t seem like much — a cookie that retails for less than a dollar — but small kindnesses paid to people that don’t normally get them can go a long way toward making a human connection. In the business of WOMM, what we strive for and all we rely upon are these human connections. These connections are more powerful than a commercial, and it is what will drive consumers to ultimately connect with your brand.

It doesn’t have to be a cookie, or even a gift. The cookie is a proxy for saying “I appreciate your time and attention.”

The key to word of mouth marketing success may depend on an open door that comes from  that extra attention to someone’s needs during a conversation, knowing how to address those needs and wants, and just about showing that your company cares for individuals and people over the bottom line.

So find your cookie, whatever that may be, and share it with people that will appreciate it.

Scott Jenson is a marketing manager for Fizz who has worked with iconic national and global brands including Coca Cola, Adult Swim, Kauai Coffee and Primo Water. A Marine Corps veteran, survivor of the music industry in the mid-2000’s, and former holder of many titles with the words “Brand,” “Strategy,” and “Marketing,” Scott holds an MBA from the University of Tampa as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from a tiny college that nobody has ever heard of.

Illustration courtesy

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