Word of Mouth
I remember years ago, back in the 80’s, people were quite wealthy in Europe. And, especially in Countries were fashion was (and is) a “pillar”, like Italy or France, there were some brands who were very in fashion.
“Media were not social”, like now, and yes we had those TV commercials but they were not that many as today. I always wondered, thinking about some specific fashion brands, “who was the first to start”. I’m talking about brands who were not even touched by commercials. You were “in” just because you were wearing that specific kind of brand. But my question was, again, who was the one who started this? Who decided that that product was “in” and the masses then bought it ?
Like the “Pareto Principle”, there was a K number of people who influenced the remaining one (20-80 ? Probably 10 to 90).
Now, years ago, I was talking about a Smartphone that I liked a lot. And I talked a lot about that (if you know me, when I’m passionate about something…). Then, it seemed many people around me started to buy it. I’m not a conceited person but it seemed, in a way, I influenced my inner circle, the people around me.
If you think it on a global scale, it makes totally sense. People start talking about a product/service, maybe 20% of entire population, and the word is spread.
This is basically what marketing is. There are tons of books related to this, everyone claiming to have the rules and steps to be successful on a marketing campaign or to become a successful marketeer.
But it’s not a 2.0 thing, it didn’t even started in the 80’s where I located my first example.
In 1989, a misinformed German minister, was the unwanted cause of the thousands of people from the East part to massively go to the roads and approach the Berlin Wall, causing the outnumbered guards to open the gates.
In 1870, Otto Von Bismarck, a Prussian Chancellor, got a telegram from the King William the first. William didn’t want another war with the French but, based on the misinformed local media about that telegram, few days later France declared war to the Prussia.
Centuries before, pleb’s tribune Tiberius Gracchus, during some elections, put a hand in his head, trying to inform his party that they were in danger. But the people, they misinterpreted the action and they thought he wanted the crown so, with the help of some of his enemies, they attacked himself and the graccans and they caused his death.
It seems even Mark Antony, as he heard from some people that Cleopatra was killed, killed himself just a minute before he was told the truth (she was just hiding).
As history is written by people, and people sometimes are misinformed, believe it or not think about how many times an event occurred just because of the power of mouth (even if it was not the truth).
Now, in the web 2.0 era, with all the media at our disposal, it’s a piece of cake. Or at least it should be.
Who decided the Ipod is a cool product? Who decided Palm Pre isn’t ()? We have the “Gorillas”, or Ninja marketeers” for that of course . But are they really so good in influencing our choices? Yes it’s a balance between the quality of the product and their activities in the market but, again, it doesn’t explain, or at least it shouldn’t, why the Ipod became so popular and replaced the word “mp3 player”.
In the end, and in my honest opinion, is the 10-90 relation that works, together with the word of mouth. Few people, considered as an authoritative source, will influence the others. And then, other people will spread the word with others and so forth…
But what happens if a guy is given a gift just to talk about a product in a good way? Remember the Iphone story and the young journalist ?
Nothing new, I know, but, whether it’s web 2.0 or not, just be careful with what you read: you have more power in your hands than you think…
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