Chick-fil-A Gets Spicy

I love Chick-fil-A.  In my book, their Chicken Sandwiches are only surpassed by Turkey Sandwiches.  I also love their marketing.  Chick-fil-A has found a great mix of mass media and word-of-mouth.  Their “Eat More Chick’n” billboards have reached and almost iconic status.  Chick-fil-A has also demonstrated that they are one of the top word-of-mouth marketing practitioners as they have launched their new Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

What did they do right?

They built tension and anticipation – Chick-fil-A teased their existing consumer base for weeks by promoting a countdown to the launch of the sandwich on Facebook and on banners as consumers made their order in the drive-thru.  It would have been easy to just launch it and make it available, but instead, they were disciplined and created a simple word-of-mouth opportunity.

Company execs told consumers why they were launching the sandwich – It’s pretty simple, but when consumers know why a brand, product or line extension exists, it allows them to authentically share stories about it.

Discussion was encouraged – It’s not all that risky to launch a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but Chick-fil-A opened up the lines of conversation and as of this post, over 1600 comments were posted on their Facebook page.

Chick-fil-A created scarcity and a VIP event – Perceived scarcity and elevating the attention to loyal/heavy users are two classic word-of-mouth marketing strategies.  Leading up to the event, Chick-fil-A accomplished both in one effort: they gave consumers the opportunity to make an appointment for their Spicy Chicken Sandwich.  It’s common for the Chick-fil-A drive thru to have a long line, but reservations for a fast food restaurant?  That’s unheard of and they did it.  The consumers who participated walked away with a great experience that they will share with others.

Chick-fil-A does a lot of other things right in their marketing.  For more information, check out my collection of articles on Chick-Fil-A marketing.


What is YOUR definition of Social Media?

I had an interesting conversation today.  The question posed to me was, “What is the definition of Social Media?”

Good question.

I probably think of social media in the same way you do.  Something along the lines of “the sharing of real thoughts, ideas and questions questions via online platforms like blogs, Twitter and Facebook.”  The executive that I was talking to considered all word-of-mouth to be part of social media.  Their point was, “consumers are talking, that’s social isn’t it?”

Yup, it sure is.  So IS word-of-mouth social media?  Or is social media word of mouth.

In my opinion, yes and yes.

In this age, for either to be effective they need to work together.  There are so many conversations happening online that if your word-of-mouth isn’t making it’s way into the social media space, it’s probably not working.  And if your online social media initiative isn’t jumping over to the real world, it’s probably not resulting in sales.

WOM/social media, it’s one and the same to me.

And by the way, it’s also a good idea to make sure everyone on your team is aligned to all of the buzz words everyone is throwing around the office.

Consumer Sharing and Participation Higher than Even I Expected

Here’s a good piece from emarketer that reveals some interesting statistics about on how consumers pass along brand information on and offline.

The percentage of people who claim to help a friend make a purchasing decision didn’t surprise me.  In fact, I might have thought it would be higher – and that’s saying something considering how much I believe in the power of word-of-mouth marketing.  But I was really surprised on these stats

  • One out of five people contribute to a forum
  • One out of five people attend offline events with people of a similar interest – Like a Tweetup.
  • 40% of people actively share information they find online

Just more reason to find your influencers, build a relationship with them and empower them to spread the word.

The emarketer piece also has some information on which age demos are more active in sharing information.

Rent or Own?

This one of my favorite comedy bits by comedian, Pat Brice, who unfortunately passed away a couple years ago.  It came to mind today when I was considering the differences between a word-of-mouth and traditional, media driven strategy.

Do you rent or do you own your marketing?

A traditional, media driven strategy is like renting.  Smaller upfront investment and less risky.  If something goes wrong, you call the landlord and they fix it.  But the problem is that you never own it.  You gotta keep paying “rent” (buying media) to stay in the game.

But a word-of-mouth strategy is a lot like buying and owning a home.  It’s bigger upfront investment and if something goes wrong, you own it and have to fix it.  But over time, you build equity in your home and your investment pays off.  Word-of-mouth is very similar.  Over time, the consumers start talking about your brand and you don’t have to keep paying rent to maintain awareness and improve image.

The big question is whether you have the patience for that investment to pay off.

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Brand Autopsy Documents WOMMA’s Talkable Tweets

I was really bummed I couldn’t make it to the WOMMA  (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) Summit that took place a couple weeks ago, but John Moore of Brand Autopsy was nice enough to catalog over 150 “talkable tweets” that attendees posted during the three-day conference.

If you weren’t able attend, take a stroll through this slideshare deck and soak in all of the big thinking that was going on.

A 1000 Little Pictures, A 1000 Little Conversations

Gary Vaynerchuk makes a great point here about the effectiveness of mass marketing vs. conversational marketing.  In this case he argues that telling stories about your brand on a daily basis is more effective than blasting out a generic press release and hoping that it gets covered.

The part I like the most is when he’s talking about “painting a thousand little pictures”.  For me, these little pictures are also conversations.  By interacting with consumers on a daily basis, you’re planting the seeds of PR.  Journalists today don’t need press releases.  They have Google, Twitter, Facebook and REAL people to tell them what the stories are.  They don’t need (or believe) BS press releases that pound their inbox everyday.

Instead of taking the short cut and *hoping* that a journalist will buy what you’re selling on press release, go out make it real and make them *want* to write about your brand.

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Another Point for Authenticity

Today I was reading Peter Bregman’s piece on Harvard Business Publishing called Why Small Businesses With Win in This Economy.

The crux of the article is that people no longer trust big companies. Duh.  But the new insight is that people no longer trust the big companies they work for, which is leading to a trickle-down effect of mistrust and corporate suspicion.

As I read this piece, I realized that the word “small” could be interchanged with “authentic”.  Authentic companies will win in this economy because:

  • People want to have REAL conversations with REAL people.
  • Employees who are authentically excited about their job/employer/company sell their brand or service without even knowing it.
  • An authentic brand creates sustainable word-of-mouth recommendations

Small companies have an advantage in that it’s just easier to be authentic.  But even the biggest of companies can authentic – they just need to think and act small.

Don’t Forget About Offline

All of the internet marketing big shots have been down in Austin for South by Southwest Interactive this week to talk about things like social media,  online communities, blogs, Twitter and Facebook.  And that’s cool, I love social media.

But it got me thinking…

Maybe it’s because the most popular topic on Twitter is Twitter and blogs tend to talk about other blogs more than anything else – but it seems like everyone is forgetting about the old-fashioned and less cutting edge part of word of mouth marketing: offline.

For all of your online word of mouth building efforts to truly work, it almost always has to go offline.  That’s why I find it so interesting that everyone is jumping into the social media game head first.  For every 100 social media marketing experts, how many offline, word of mouth experts is there.  I can think of a few, but not many.

A few questions and things to think about:

  • If you’re focused on building relationships online, what are you doing to engage consumers offline?
  • If you have an agency to manage your online community, do you have one to manage the offline?
  • Do your online conversations include a call for offline action?
  • 71% of “word of mouth” conversations happen face to face (source: Fizz, TalkTrack/Keller Fay Group 2006)

Do People Hate Marketing?

Seth’s blog post got me thinking about this today…

When I worked on PBR, we focused most of our efforts on word of mouth or “buzz marketing.”  Mostly because we didn’t have any money, but also because the young adult, hipster consumer resisted mainstream mainstream marketing and embraced brands that didn’t market.  The hipsters were the ones rediscovering, reinventing and advocating the brand.

Believe it or not, the concept of hipsters drinking PBR was a hard idea to sell internally back in 2001-2003.  You gotta remember that the brand was living on middle-aged, blue collar men who drank it because it was cheap.  It wasn’t sold on-premise and it was a forgotten brand.  So when it came to convincing all of the big shots that this brand had a chance with a new consumer base, we rationalized it by telling them that it was being embraced because these consumers resisted mainstream marketing.

Is that true?  Do even the most fickle and anti-establishment of consumers “hate” marketing?  Here we are, six years later and I say that it is totally false.  I think consumers LOVE marketing.  BUT, they only love it when it’s authentic and meaningful to them.  If it’s fake, consumers, whether they are cynical hipsters or not will REJECT it.

That’s the beauty of social media, sampling and experiential marketing programs.  All of these tactics are real because the consumer is interacting and having a conversation with a real person.

Coincedentally, when we scaled up the PBR program, we hired more people to go out there and have conversations.  Even the hipsters knew that these people were there to MARKET to them.  But they were totally fine with it. Why? Because it was REAL.

What’s Your Elevator Speech?

How many times have you been at a conference or cocktail party and had someone ask you a totally simple question that should know like that back of your hand…and you freeze?  It’s happened to me and I’m sure it happens to a lot of other people.  That’s why you need elevator speeches: loosely pre-prepared answers to questions someone is probably going to ask you.

A good elevator speech should:

  • Be concise – less than 30 seconds
  • Make sense to anyone – you’re probably talking to someone outside of your industry and area of expertise
  • Be interesting, memorable and repeatable – do your best to send that person away thinking that they know more about your business
  • Demonstrate passion – people gravitate and remember excitement and passion

Here’s a short list of elevator speeches you should have ready at any time.


  • What do you do at (insert company here)?
  • What is (insert brand here) all about?
  • How do you market (insert brand)?  – even if you’re not in marketing, you should have an answer to this question
  • What’s new in the (insert business category here) industry?


  • What kind of music do you like?
  • Seen any good movies lately?
  • What are you reading these days?
  • What do you do when you’re not working?

As you start to prepare these elevator speeches, there really isn’t a need to write anything down.  Just take some time and think about these questions and anything else that you’re asked on a regular basis and commit it to memory.

Most importantly, be confident in your responses.