Word of Mouth Marketing and Hispanics

Click to read the entire (and oh so fascinating) chat with Chris.

Click to read the entire (and oh so fascinating) chat with Chris.

At Mercury Mambo, we’re Word Of Mouth Marketing freaks. We drink the Kool-Aid. Those companies that are doing it right are getting huge returns on their investments by building an army of evangelists.

Most of the traction that’s being seen in this arena is with General Market marketers. The prevalence of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sights and tools has brought WOM marketing to the forefront of every interactive and marketing conversation I’ve been involved in in the last year or so. What I find most interesting though, is that there are very few Hispanic marketing departments paying close attention and using the techniques.

I think there are a few reasons for this:

  • Generally, Hispanic marketing departments are already trying to do more with less. There is a highly disproportionate amount of Hispanic marketing dollars being spent compared to the population and buying power.
  • Traditional marketers think of WOM as experimental or “emerging” media. It’s something they can’t control, it’s something they don’t understand. Brand advertising is about shouting, you get to tell customers who you are and what to think. WOM is about a conversations. Conversations get messy and require long-term commitments.
  • In general, many brand managers are risk-averse, especially in a recession. Telling your boss you want to run an experimental WOM campaign makes you stand out.  Right now, brand managers seem to want to keep a low-profile.
  • WOM Marketing is a corporate commitment. It takes time and buy-in corporate-wide. This means that it takes more than a marketing department to make it happen. The customer service department needs to be on-board, the sales department needs to be on-board, as well as everyone else in the company.

Even with these challenges, Hispanic Marketing Managers should still be pushing to start developing an building a WOM strategy. Here’s why:

  • Hispanics are natural WOM marketers. They’ve always shared information amongst themselves. Need a dentist? Ask your comadre. Need to know which phone card has the best price? Ask the guy at the bodega on the corner.
  • Hispanics are loyal to brands that they love. Don’t believe me, ask the folks at Suavetel, Fabuloso or Colgate. The brand equity of these brand with Hispanics is amazing.
  • Even though Spanish dominant Hispanics don’t have as high of an online penetration as their English speaking counterparts, they over-index on social media sites and habits. Currently, technology costs are a barrier, but in the next couple of years, the cost of access is going to keep going down. When that happens, the companies that have been investing to build an offline WOM strategy are going to take a swift lead. The conversations are going to move online and spread like wildfire.

Still not sold? Take a look at these examples:

  • In-N-Out Burger – these guys are competing, and someone would argue winning, in the fast food burger battle against McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and more. Sure, those companies have restaurants on every corner, but if you’ve ever been to an In-and-Out Burger, you’ve seen what I’m talking about. Long lines, people everywhere, T-Shirts being purchased. I mean seriously, when’s the last time you bought a McDonald’s T-shirt?? And how do we all know about In-N-Out Burger? Not from traditional media, that’s for sure. People talk about them. Watch this (Pretend you’re watching here. I’m heading over to another window on my computer monitor where I’ve got my buddy Chris who used to live in CA, but now lives in TX and I’m going to taunt him a little about In-N-Out Burger). See the results of the chat to the right (click on the chat and it will enlarge so you can read it). Try it for yourself. Ask someone you know about In-N-Out Burger. That, my friends, is the power of WOM Marketing. How does In-N-Out do it? Read a little more about it here.
  • People LOVE Zappos. Not because of their shoes though, because they are a great customer service company.

    People LOVE Zappos. Not because of their shoes though, because they are a great customer service company.

    Zappos – Quite simply, the folks at Zappos are WOM Marketing ninjas. They do it so well I even know the CEO’s name is Tony because he’s a Twitter friend of mine. The interesting thing about Zappos is that they don’t think of themselves as a shoe company, they think of themselves as a customer service company. And this one little tweak gives them a lot to talk about. More importantly though, it gives everyone else a lot to talk about. Check out the graphic for this blurb. I did a Twitter search for Zappos. The first tweet that popped up was about their service. This is marketing that you can’t buy.

At The Mambo, we’re determined. We are going to get our clients on board now while online Hispanic communities are still emerging. These clients have the power to merge offline coffee conversations with online consumer evangelism. These clients will be the game changers. Are you ready?