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Agrimarketing : October 2007
14 AgriMarketing October 2007 Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc., etc., all remind us of the newly networked world we live in. But this wave of connected-inter- action isn't surprising at all to one of agriculture's more innovative mar- keting firms. This peer-to-peer wave hitting our culture is all about con- nection and shared experience --- and in agriculture, Beck Ag has been blazing the trail for more than ten years, producing word of mouth marketing (WOMM) programs that allow peers to learn from each other about new products, technologies and services. Beck Ag Pres Stephanie Liska said the company's strength and continued success come from proac- tively facilitating that connection in ag. "People welcome opportunities to learn from the experiences of oth- ers." And, she says, when a WOMM program is engaged, those shared experiences are both practical and applicable, "WOMM helps partici- pants avoid costly mistakes and sets realistic expectations for the trial of a new product or service." Liska points to George Silverman's book, "The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing," for six rea- sons WOMM is so powerful: • It is more relevant, complete and can simplify complex messages. • It is the most honest and credible medium. • It is customer-focused and builds on customer experiences. • It feeds on itself, like a breeder reactor, and eventually explodes or fizzles. • It is most rapidly spread through opinion leaders to their spheres of influence. Word of Mouth sessions also offer unfiltered feedback and per- ceptions of the subject offering. Beck Ag Sr Partner Vernon Benes said, "Through WOMM, marketers can achieve three keys to marketing success simultane- ously: leverage product experi- ences, set realistic expectations and enhance product adoption and use." He added, "WOMM allows us to harness the experience gained and share it effectively with other prospective customers." QUESTIONS But in this brave, new, socially net- worked world, new questions arise. Many companies, including ag mar- keters question whether their tradi- tional marketing and advertising approaches are enough to produce successful, timely adoption of their products and services. A recent Wall Street Journal article stated, "In recent years, word of mouth marketing has gained popularity among big com- panies which fear that traditional advertising has lost its punch in this age of information overload." This apparent convergence of tra- ditional marketing, social network- ing and word of mouth marketing gave Purdue University more than enough reason to study the interac- tion. One interesting finding of recent Purdue research on the sub- ject, relates to the positive effect that WOMM programs have on more tra- ditional advertising. The research measured the impact of a number of WOMM initiatives involving crop protection, seed and animal health offerings. In the crop protection area, for instance, Purdue's research found that facilitated WOMM programs were highly complimentary when combined with other promotional tactics. The research showed that compared with a control group, par- ticipants in a facilitated WOMM pro- gram recalled key manufacturer messages at higher rates. Purdue University co-lead of the research project, Dr. Jay Akridge commented, "The research shows that clearly there is strong synergy between word of mouth programs and tradi- tional advertising/promotional efforts." Benes added that WOMM pro- vides companies an additional boost to their other outreach campaigns. "When engaging a WOMM strategy, ag companies have the opportunity to further leverage those advertising messages, allowing reinforcement of key marketing messages with your audience. It enables participants to "reduce the noise" surrounding a product or service and concentrate on real expectations. That's where accelerated product adoption and use take off. That's a brave new WOMM world!" AM IT'S A BRAVE, NEW (SOCIALLY NETWORKED) WORLD! by Kathleen Erickson According to NOP World's market research: "Personal experience counts most ... 91 percent of the public would be likely to use a product or service recommended by someone who had used it themselves." There's untapped Power in your Customers! WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING BECK AG SPONSORED CONTENT
November December 2006
November December 2007