Ogilvy gets it….Word-of-Mouth IS the answer

Brian Featherstonhaugh, CEO and Chairman of Ogilvy One Worldwide wrote a great blog post for iMedia yesterday that really hit home with what we have been focused on with organizations and executives for a long time – Word-of-Mouth RULES! In his blog post, “Did the Birth of Social Media Change Everything?“, he wrote, “It wasn’t just social media that entered the game. There is a new phenomenon in marketing, which is actually an old idea but with new tools. It’s called word of mouth. It’s faster and allows us to amplify the voice a million times more, instantly, and globally.

How profound. Brian really gets it and being part of the eighth largest ad agencies in the world gives him the horsepower to support these views. It is so refreshing to see someone in the advertising industry “get it” the way Brian does – most don’t. Most are pushing control and the 4P’s of traditional marketing – not willing to admit the world has changed forever. Brian had several great quotes in this article that I wanted to share because they were so accurate and really tell the story.

For example, he said, “Marketers shouldn’t try to control conversations. You can influence and participate in a healthy way, but a new form of leadership is necessary, a braver one, a more inventive one. It’s about seeing the whole picture and letting little things happen.” If any leader isn’t getting the message that “traditional marketing and communication” is dying off very rapidly, hopefully this will help you see it from another perspective.

He also said, “The deepest change that has occurred isn’t technological. It is that the consumer has taken control, all over the planet. Marketing no longer has the power to control or decide, it has to be where the consumer is and find a way to relate to him or her.” This is where people get hung up – they thing this is a “technological revolution” with the advent of social media. Wrong again – this is about who is now in control of your message and how they can use it to help you or hurt you. It is finally coming back around that if your product sucks, marketing can’t rescue you any longer.

Finally, Brian said, “We can’t control where the consumer is when they want to but things. We have to join him where he is and create relationships.” To me, the true goal of social media is building “trusted relationships” because at the end of the day, these are the ones that will create the “word-of-mouth” you really want. You can’t expect to get consistent and positive word-of-mouth from someone if they don’t have a relationship with you – doesn’t work. Focus on the relationship and building trust and let the new, “cool tools” of social media do the heavy lifting for you.

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