By: Andy Levitt
Last night, I had the great pleasure of seeing President Bill Clinton speak in Boston as part of a year-long speaker series my wife and I will be attending. Clinton displayed his wealth of knowledge across a range of topics - the economy, the environment, technology, healthcare, and social responsibility, to name a few. He has a tremendous command of data and articulated his points of view with clarity and elegance.
His underlying principle was that regardless of one's political persuasion, we all need a framework from which we can operate that can help us sort through the massive amount of data that comes at us each day. It doesn't matter if we are trying to evaluate the accuracy of information from a politician trying to get re-elected or the advertising claims made by a manufacturer. And as much good as the technological revolution has ushered into our world, it comes with some downside. Clinton went on to say that while an 8-year old kid can get online today and "learn in 90 seconds what took me four years to do in college, the hard part is knowing what information you can trust."
Ah, it's that issue of trust again. It seems like there is a theme here in so much of what we read and hear about it each day. Trust has become the biggest element of social currency. Without that trust, everything just breaks down (just ask Clinton himself who knows a thing or two about trust issues!)
Isn't this where word of mouth comes in? It's the time-tested experience of hearing from the people who you trust sharing their feedback and opinions, and then using that information to make sense of all of the clutter.
In fact, earlier this week, I was with my good friend and business partner, Blake O'Neill. We were sharing an overview of the HealthTalker offering with three pharmaceutical marketing executives, helping them to understand the value in word of mouth marketing. We think of it as influential conversations among trusted individuals that drive product demand. There was a lot of head-nodding around the room as we outlined some of the fundamental principles behind how ideas spread.
And then, in an instant, Blake made a statement that stopped us all in our tracks. He said, "Y'know, word of mouth is so old, it's new."
I loved it. After more than five years working in this space, I had never heard WOM described that way - and it crystallized the idea for everyone in the room. It's just that simple.
Word of mouth isn't something hard to understand - it's what we do naturally every day, it supports our framework and shapes our worldview about the things we value.
And it really works.....trust me!