Diaper stories: A tale about word of mouth marketing adoption

By Ted Wright September 2, 2019

word of mouth marketing adoption

By Ted Wright

I was just in the San Francisco airport lounge for Delta. In the men’s room this Dad is changing the diapers for his two year old son. The kid is just screaming up a storm.

Now his diaper needs to be changed. It’s nasty. On some level, even the two year old knows this must be done. But he is hollering … no, no, NO! Dad was a cool customer. He said, “I will take that under advisement son. You let me know how I can do better the next time.”

Once the change is done, the kid got quiet. He’s hanging out with his dad and everything is cool again.

This scene reminded me of a word of mouth marketing conundrum facing Fizz as well as you when you implement WOMM in your own organization.

Why so much resistance?

When I started Fizz, we nailed our first client right out of the box. I had a theory about how this WOMM world works and how stories are transmitted between two people. We applied it to Pabst Blue Ribbon and BOOM!, a marketing case study for the ages. Then we all applied our WOMM process to Rainer beer, also owned by the Pabst Brewing Company, and another success was created.

It works. Companies need ideas that work. So why not a faster and more immediate adoption to scale?

Answer: Because change is so hard. The traditional marketers out there scream “no no NO!” just like that two year old I heard screaming on the SFO changing table. They know the diaper needs to be changed (so to speak) but they want anything but that change.

What you can do about it

Be brave. Do your research, create your program, show how to measure it, find a small project to try it on, execute, execute, execute.

Share glory. Brian Kovulchuck was the CEO of the Pabst Brewing Company when I pitched them to do WOMM for PBR. At the end of our 10 minute sit down he said that he didn’t know if I was an idiot or a genius but that he’d give me a chance. Neal Stewart was the brand new ABM in charge of PBR and he jumped in with both feet. Every time I tell the PBR story I always mention both of them because a) it’s true and b) you go fast by yourself but your go far with a team and without the three of us (and others) on that team we’d have never gone as far as we did.

Know this matrix. Below you will find a reprint of this genius work from Knoster, Villa and Thousand. Know it, love it, use it to help you navigate and manage the change process.  Just like the two year old discussed above, everyone is happy once the process is done.

word of mouth marketing adoption

Don’t take shit from nobody. Once you are done, things are moving along well and success is happening, others will come and congratulate themselves for your awesome idea and work.  Of course, share the glory (see above), but also make sure to stand your ground. Be able to demonstrate that the success comes from your WOMM planning and execution not some other random variable like “Well, it didn’t rain in the Midwest last summer as much as last summer” or “Well, Ashton Kutcher and the whole trucker hat thing happened so you just caught the wave”.

The momentum

Don’t get me wrong. Word of mouth is moving forward. In the early days, our agency might get one inbound call a year. We get at least one a day today. So that’s good.

Before I started Fizz I had already started and sold three different companies so I know what success looks like. We’re a success but the rate of corporate adoption in this space is glacial. I suppose it’s that way for most things that are new.

Our time will come. Or more accurately, your time will come.

In the meantime, we’ll keep the lights on. Come for a visit when you’re ready, won’t you?

Ted Wright

Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth.

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