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Thursday, Sep. 6, 2007 at 7:04 am

3 Triggers of Word of Mouth

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 6th, 2007

jibjab this land is your landSeth Godin gets to the heart of the matter after reading about how viral marketing works only 15% of the time, according to JupiterResearch. He sums up how to get word of mouth in 4 words: “Just make great stuff.”

Our own Holly Buchanan blogged about one company’s viral efforts this week in “Would You Buy a Bra from This Man?‘s campaign started off with a small mailing as part of a test and has started to take off. This ad polarized the audience. Thankfully, Zafu offers a great service that already gets people talking. The video just helped the conversation along.

So how do you make something great?

The Three Word-of-Mouth Triggers:

Recall the last few times you participated in word-of-mouth culture about your experience with a product or service. The product either exceeded your expectations or fell substantially below them. Either way, that word-of-mouth was a result of the product’s performance along with one or a combination of the following triggers:

Architectural: This is a product, package, or store design. When a product or experience is planned or controlled for a specific effect, it’s architectural. Aesthetics and a unique appearance and experience are architectural triggers.

Product examples: iPod, Bose, BMW, “Halo” (video game), RAZR, and Michael Graves’ products

Experience examples: McDonald’s playgrounds, Apple retail stores, Starbucks, and Krispy Kreme stores

Kinetic: This is energy and performance, in the show business sense of the word. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, which the well-known book When Fish Fly is based on, is the quintessential example of a kinetic trigger. Hipness, selection, fashion, and outstanding product performance are also kinetic triggers.

Product examples: BlackBerry, Tony Hawk (video game), Red Bull, Starbucks’ products, and Airborne

Experience examples: Any slot machine, Cabela’s stores, HDTV, JibJab’s first presidential video, JetBlue, and iTunes software

Generous: A generous trigger occurs when perceived value substantially exceeds the price of a product or service. Extremely large portions in a restaurant, oversized seats on an airplane, and consistently low prices are all generous triggers.

Product examples: Kia, Vonage, Skype, Hyundai, and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys

Experience examples: Great AYCE buffets, Wal-Mart,, and the first-generation iTunes Music store.

(Note: Roy H. Williams, the “Wizard of Ads,” was the first to identify and label these triggers in his Monday Morning Memo.)

The more remarkable the experience, the stronger the word of mouth. Just barely exceeding expectations isn’t enough. In other words, “Just make great stuff.”

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Comments (3)

  1. [...] morning about Word of Mouth Marketing.  Well, fast-forward a few hours and I’ve run into Bryan’s article on Grokdotcom offering three triggers for Word of Mouth Marketing.  Bryan’s article is [...]

  2. [...] by the way. Momofuku is a great restaurant — but don't take my word for it. As far as the 3 triggers of word of mouth are concerned, Momo is both kinetic and generous.  Besides, it's a small place, so you might [...]

  3. Momofuku certainly is great. One of my personal favs! :-)

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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