I attended a very interesting Advertising Age seminar last week. Steve Knox, CEO of P&Gs Tremor, talked with us about “Why Consumers Talk” and the art of consumer advocacy. In the context of this presentation, consumer advocacy was about word-of-mouth recommendations, whether online or offline.
Two “mental models of how the world works” were described: interrupting schemas and conceptual schemas.
Interrupting: Something that makes you take notice because of how different it is from the norm. For example, the plane (crash) landing on the Hudson was discussed for months; with a “regular” plane crash, we pay attention, but maybe for only a day or two. The greater the disruption, the more impact on us.
Conceptual: When two familiar products or services are put together to form something new, the disruption of this new idea captures our attention. For instance, when the cell phone was put together with a PDA, we noticed.
Disruption causes us to talk – to share.
Steve said that research has shown that word-of-mouth advocacy can take place at any stage of product adoption due to “connectors” (those people who have wide and deep social connections and who spread trends more than they set them). He showed a very interesting quad-graph that highlighted where one wants to be in “guiding” a word-of-mouth effort: you want your connectors to strongly advocate your product/service and you want the word to spread quickly. Intuitively, this makes complete sense.
Being a P&G company, they’ve created an online community of “connectors” (there’s a screening survey to identify those that meet the profile), called Vocalpoint. They’re using this panel to help identify which communication strategies, created in the context of the different disruption schemas, will be most effective in generating consumer advocacy.
A couple of examples:
Secret Clinical Strength – “The more you move, the better you smell” captures attention because it’s the opposite of what we’re used to believing.
Venus Razors – The new campaign got women talking about the main product feature – that they didn’t need lotion after they shaved.
Most companies don’t have the resources of P&G and other CPG companies. But we can learn from these models when developing communication strategies – or even new products – for brands.