A word of mouth marketing success that made me go “WOW!”
By Ted Wright July 8, 2019
By Ted Wright
I’ve been immersed in the world of word of mouth marketing for more than 20 years. I’ve had a hand in many well-known case studies including Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Intel Inside, Fireball and AT&T’s move from 3G to 4G.
But the one that really made me say “wow” was a project we worked on for the airline JetBlue.
A focus on the peanuts
A program that really caught fire focused on what we, in the office, refer to as “peanut parents.” You might know them as “parents of kids who have a serious food allergy”.
JetBlue has been known as a peanut-free airline for a long time. Internally, somebody at the airline had a child that had a peanut allergy and they just made the decision to get rid of them. In fact, they worked on their supply chain to eliminate all peanut-related products. This is good news for a lot of kids with food allergies, but the airline hadn’t really talked about that a lot.
When we were working on the project, we knew this was a special story about the airline. It was interesting, it was authentic, and it was relevant to a huge number of people. There are even national organizations like FARE – Food Allergy Resources & Education – dedicated to spreading the word of food allergies ad their effect.
We helped JetBlue craft this story and then we went anywhere these parents might gather and told the JetBlue story. These parents are super-sensitive to this issue so this story is a big deal to them.
That’s why communicating about food allergies is so important. An airplane is hermetically sealed. So, if you are anywhere near peanuts at 35,000 feet that could be a critical situation. By flying with JetBlue, that is one less thing for a parent to worry about.
We built a trained team to go out and share the Jet Blue story with the “peanut parents.” This was an important message to our target and the parents were very receptive to it.
One key measure that shows our message is working is the number of people who contact our market managers or our Fizz office saying “I saw your presentation. I belong to this group. Could you come present to us too?”
That is the ultimate sign of success. Our message is spreading and it’s so relevant that others want us to spread it some more.
During the JetBlue peanut allergy program, we were getting an average of eight inbound requests per day – something like 280 requests in a month. And they all go like this, “Hey, I heard your person talk about what JetBlue is doing about allergies and allergy-free airline travel. Can you come to our group and share all that information with these other people that I know?”
In the business world, this is basically the holiest of Grails — consumers contacting you and telling you they love your marketing so much they want to tell their friends. They are offering to help spread your story.
Now, in order to have a success like that, your marketing cannot sound like marketing. Your marketing has to be very interesting, has be completely relevant, and 100% authentic. And in this case, we’re telling parents, “We hear you. This is one less thing you have to worry about.”
The response was remarkable. The number of requests we were getting was so great that initially I thought it had to be a mistake. We had to double-check the numbers. When we run a program like this, we would average about 1.5 inquiries a day in the first year and we were getting 8 for JetBlue and that eventually climbed to 9 a day.
That literally means once every work hour, somebody in United States is saying to Fizz, “Hey, can you come share the story of JetBlue with me and all my friends?”
That made me go “wow.”
And it made me proud of our work on many levels. We were helping our customer with a successful marketing effort, but we were also spreading a helpful message and doing it in a way that was embraced by our peanut parents.
There is nothing more fun or interesting to me than finding that relevant path that connects customers and consumers.
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.