WOMMA is an organisation advancing the practice of word-of-mouth marketing across the world. It has just held its annual conference in Nashville Tenessee. Sharyn Smith, of Social Soup, attended. Here she shares some of the highlights from day one.
The keynote trilogy
It’s a hard gig opening a conference and an even harder gig when you are one of three keynotes, but author of New York Times bestseller Youtility, Jay Baer, kicked off with a bang. His talk, about the difference between selling and ‘helping’, was an incredibly powerful performance, full of valuable nuggets for brands. He started by stating that Youtility was a marketing tool so useful, that people would actually begin paying for it. Imagine a world like that?
He backed it up with a great example from Ikea Europe.
On a particular day in one European city a lot of people change apartments – the leases are all aligned for some particular reason. Ikea decided to play a role in the day by providing free moving boxes on every street corner. They built large box pyramids across the whole city to help people with their move. They weren’t selling anything – they were just providing ‘utility’ (or help). The results from this initiative lead to a 24.7% sales increase for that period of the year.
Baer believes that to deliver true utility to customers we must really understand their needs and this is one of the biggest challenges marketers face today. He claims that we are surrounded by data but starved of insights. I’m with him on this one. We come across this all the time with the brands we work on too and it’s something I think we’d all like to see tackled in the Aussie market.
Our second keynote speaker took a different shine to engaging people (including the audience, with his thumping music and strobe lighting). Dez Dickerson is all about creating the ‘fan effect’. Dickerson, who runs an entertainment business in Tennessee, believes brands should understand how great rock bands have built audiences to be successful in their marketing.
He likened a brand’s relationship with that of a band and their audience: “Think about the lengths people go to for a favourite band and mirror those emotional triggers – these are the connections you want to create for your brand. Unleash human passion and your brand will always have an audience.”
Lastly, we heard from Geno Church, chief inspiration officer at Brains On Fire. Church stressed the importance of injecting passion into our conversations with customers and that we shouldn’t be happy with a ‘like’ – we need to be loved. According to Church, anyone in the marketing game today is actually in the people business and needs to understand what motivates people to build real communities.
The buzz about…well buzz
Matthew McCarthy from Unilever and Kary Laskin from Edelman took the stage to talk through the success of their AXE Apollo Space Academy (AASA) campaign.
The campaign began with an insight: astronauts have the best stories. That evolved into sending 24 people out into space. The campaign journey was a powerful one. The brand team took a huge leap and did something very bold.
They seeded the idea, unbranded first – astronauts literally just started appearing at major events and created ‘shareable moments’. Buzz Aldrin then agreed to be the spokesperson – giving it real authenticity. Once they made it official, they developed a global unifying platform where you could apply and attract votes – a destination – and then managed this community ongoing with lots of rewards along the way to keep them engaged. They let the idea evolve and didn’t try and control it. And then, they finally launched some great TVCs at the Superbowl. Now, they are actually sending these people into space. The top 100 applicants will be participating in space camp for testing before going to the final 24.
The campaign was run over 60 countries with some great results including over 1 million applications and a sales increase of 17% during the campaign period.
McCarthy attributed the success to doing the opposite of what most brands do: treat their campaigns like Christmas trees. They try to add lots of ornaments but very few put their eggs all in one basket and go with one big idea.
Ending with a bit of soul
Day one ended with a presentation from YouTube superstars and media company, SoulPancake.
CEO Shabnam Mogharabi relayed a few sobering statistics – YouTube receives 800 million visitors monthly, with over six billion hours watched every month. That’s an hour for every human on this planet. Half of the audience is also 12 to 17-years-olds. Mogharabi’s take away was to stick to content that’s uplifting and inspirational.
To wrap up day one, it’s been about transcending selling and creating real value for people. It’s about moving beyond the commercial outcomes and having this strong vision about what you do and why you do it for the good of people. Money will follow. Stay tuned for day two.
WOMMA was held in Nashville, USA, from November 18 to 20.
Sharyn Smith is the director and founder of the Influence Group, which includes Social Soup.