Realizations and understandings

DaisiesWhen I finished my first month of using a newly discovered nutrition program, I realized how much better I was feeling. Not just the weight loss, but the energy and absence of those stubborn aches and pains. Looking back, I now wish I'd started much sooner and began sharing with others much more quickly. 

Here's a few of my journal entries from that time period. 

New Beginning with Healthy Edge

The beginningDear friends, family, and readers of my blog who occasionally stop by to see how my journey to a healthier life has progressed,

You may remember how the journey began a little more than three years ago.

It's been quite some time since I've shared with you here. Not because I've given up or quit and not because I haven't had anything to say. Instead, I've been quiet because I wanted to be sure of what I've been experiencing before sharing an exciting new element of my story. I think I've found it... "the healthy edge."

For the details please click here...

Social to the 12th Power

12 bannerThe Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. In fact, their defense dominated Denver's number one ranked offense so soundly that most of the country called the game a yawner. Not so where I live. In the Northwest, the 12th Man knows how to yell, how to win, and how to celebrate. So how would a hyper-local insurance company find marketing opportunity in an event that is played on a global stage? With focus, passion, technology and social engagement.

Read more →

It's Not Okay!

A year or so ago I had the opportunity to to write the forward for a book a cross-country friend of mine was about to publish. His name is Ted Rubin and the book is Return on Relationship. Ted is insightful, experienced, generous, and just plain smart. His view of being socially engaged is refreshing. In this short blog post, he looks at a contrarian view of how social media is used. Enjoy. #RonR (You can follow Ted at @TedRubin on Twitter) 

It’s Not OK… (via

  It is not ok to just use social channels to just broadcast. It is not ok to simply advertise and call it Social Media. It is not ok to block employees from accessing social media sites while at work. It is not ok to discourage employees from building…


It all starts with a story!

Have you ever thought about which conversations get shared? How about the things you talk about and share with your friends and family? Chances are good that the conversations that you remember and share most often are those that involve a story. Why is that the case? With thanks to the good folks at Story Worldwide, let’s look at six reasons for stories that many marketers frequently overlook or seem to take for granted.

Stories 1Experiences leave lasting impressions. They go far deeper than facts, figures or features. And by creating a story-based experience, we cause our audiences to walk away with an impression of our brand that sits deep in their hearts. 

stories 2

Stories reveal what makes your message unique and different. In today’s business environment success generates copycats and innovation is short lived. What can’t be copied is who you are – your unique identity and your story. Where did your brand come from? Why does your business exist? The way you share these stories is what helps to set you apart from the competition.

Read more →

The Kindness Boomerang Returns

Kindness Boomerang

There are times when special things happen in our lives without expectation or prior consideration. They aren't tied to our calendar and they aren't part of a prior arrangement. They are special surprises in our lives. Occasions that give me cause to pause and to really consider why they happened. Could they simply be just chance happenings? Some might refer to them as the result of "good karma." I prefer to think of them as the result  of life's kindness boomerang. How and what we put out there determines what and how things come back to us.

When I was a boy, I had my first boomerang experience. Its round-trip flight looked so simple but was incredibly hard to make happen on my own. That slimly cut elbow-shaped piece of wood, with its smooth sides and perfectly rounded edges, seemed to have a mind of its own. Each time I threw it out I would have to run across our expansive front yard to retrieve it. The more I expected it to come back to me and the harder I tried to make it happen, the farther I would have to run. It was only when I wasn't trying so hard to make the boomerang circle back to me that I started to get a feel for the right motion and rhythm. There was a correct speed, a correct angle, and a correct height of release. The more I tossed the boomerang out there, the closer it came to returning to me. Until, on that special but unexpected occasion, it started coming back to me in a way that I could catch it. I don't think I'll ever forget how wonderful that felt.

Read more →

Make it a great day!

Imelda DayWhat type of day will you make?

Every workday morning I do the same thing. I record a new voice mail greeting that announces the new day of the week, the date, and informs the caller of how and when they are likely to hear back from me. To close, I end each message with one of two phrases. The first is one that I've used for nearly 40 years - "Make it a great day." More recently, I've started sprinkling in a newer version - "Make it a kind day!"

Earlier this week, I was thinking about potential topics that I'd like to add to my blog. I realized that recognizing and understanding that my day will be what I make of it has given me an edge in my career and life. I'd decided to tell share the story about the origin of my greeting and was looking through the news feed of my Facebook account when I spotted a post that validated my thought. A good friend, Imelda Dulcich, had posted an upbeat and encouraging welcome to the new day. I responded, and the rest of this blog post seemed to write itself.

This is how our short exchange looked on Facebook.

Read more →

Kindness doesn't always happen where you first intended.


Sometimes a purposeful act of kindness isn’t meant to be. Or at least not in the time and place it was planned for. Sometimes making the effort in one place prepares you for another – one where the kindness is both welcomed and appreciated.

This morning, while on our way to a family birthday celebration, my wife and I stopped at a local supermarket to pick up the last of the gift cards that we wanted to share. On my way into the store I couldn’t help but see an older woman hunched into a ball behind an outdoor display with the few bags that appeared to hold her only possessions. In the blink of an eye, without additional information, I judged her to be homeless, hungry, and in need of kind act.

Read more →

Free Hugs

Free Hugs

The best thank you

My wife and I celebrated Easter weekend by making a trip to our home on Lake Chelan. While there we enjoyed the spring sunshine and the time together. This morning we dined at one of the state's oldest and most popular resort hotels - Campbell's. The variety and presentation of their holiday brunch was awesome and, despite our focus on healthy choices, we both made three trips to the buffet line. (Which is why I made sure to insert a four mile walk into my afternoon activities).

During our drive home, Cindy and I stopped for coffee at our favorite coffee house in the small town of Cle Elum. As we pulled into the parking stall in front of Pioneer Coffee we saw an elderly woman at a table outside the shop. She was bundled in a heavy coat and wore a purple knit hat to break the chill. Her table displayed several loaves of home made banana bread and a hand made sign describing the variety of fruits that she added to the smallish five dollar loaves.

Read more →

Here's to health and kindness

Girl Scout Cookies
Visitors to my blog are aware that I've been focused on at least a couple themes recently. Health and kindness have been on my mind. Both are habits I'm trying to build and reinforce in my daily life. For the most part it's been going pretty well too!

The recent Girl Scout cookie selling season gave me a great opportunity to practice both. As much as I love the sweet taste of Samoas and Thin Mints, I'm still not at the point in my journey where I can allow myself to indulge in the calories that come with them. So what's the kind and healthy thing to do and how could I best support my assistant's Girl Scout daughter when the order sheet came around?
Read more →

Ask for compliments and see what happens

Several years ago my wife and I were driving home late in the evening and decided to stop by one of the local fast food chains to get a quick bite to eat. The experience was nothing more nor nothing less than was expected. Very routine and unremarkable. We shouted our order into a speaker box and strained to understand the broken replies from a teenager inside the building one hundred feet ahead. When we arrived along side the first window we offered our payment to the cashier and expected to receive our bag of quickly wrapped food items at the second window. Of course, we would examine the contents to make sure we actually received what we had requested. 

But then the unexpected, and unfortunately unintended, happened. The restaurant made us smile!
Read more →

Remarkable Service Leads To Loyalty & Recommendation


There's a business in Bellevue where I've shopped for many years – probably close to twenty by now. A specialty store, Crystallia features fine china, crystal and collectables as headliners in its inventory. Most of my purchases have been made during Christmas seasons and are primarily ornaments and figurines that I enjoy adding to the collections of my children. I'm not one of Crystallia's biggest customers as my purchases seldom total more than a few hundred dollars in any year. Frankly, I wouldn't expect the people at Crystallia  to remember me from year to year - and yet they almost always do. I’m loyal to them as a result.

Wee Forrest Folk

Over the years, Crystallia has relocated from one of the regions most long-standing upscale shopping environments to the intimate second floor of a Main Street office building. Nearly all of their business has converted to online shopping. Each year, shortly after Thanksgiving, I go online and look for the ornaments I’d like to purchase and generate the transaction. To that point the process really couldn’t be less personal. It’s the way they designed it and it works. No problem.

Until something doesn't go as planned. This year the unexpected happened when my order, which I would be shipping with other packages to my daughter’s family in New Mexico, was late to arrive. I called Crystallia and was greeted by a man on the phone whose first words were, “Hello Rod. This is Robert. I’ll bet you're looking for your ornament.”

Read more →

Compassion: A Key Ingredient To Marketing's Secret Sauce

Not long ago I was invited to consider the use of compassion in the marketing world. My first thought was that compassion and marketing are words that are aren't often used in the same sentence, let alone as a dimension of strategy. The more I think about it, the more I consider that to be an unfortunate shame.

Compassion model

The way I see it, compassion has become a key ingredient in the secret sauce that enriches the flavor of truly great marketing. Compassion is certainly a key component of great content, and great content has become the currency of valued and lasting relationships. As social engagement has flourished and virtual communities have formed in newly familiar places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,and Pinterest, compassion and empathy have become important communication planks in the implementation of social marketing strategy. Marketers are remembering the required fundamentals for making sustainable human connections - selfless, inspiring and compassionate acts that connect brands with consumers. It's an early step in the development of sustainable relationships that begins with brand awareness and matures over time through stages of consideration, selection, renewal, referral, and advocacy.

Read more →

Crowdsourcing The Next NW Profile

PEMCO Profiles

In 2007, my team at PEMCO Insurance and I changed the face of marketing in the Pacific Northwest. Not just for an insurance carrier mind you, but for an entire region of brands regardless of category. The “We’re A Lot Like You. A Little Different.” advertising campaign, conceptualize by DNA, Seattle, was based on the insight that our northwest neighbors, very passionate about the corner of the world where we live, weren't nearly as excited about insurance. The idea was to shine a light on the unique, quirky, offbeat characters that make the Northwest special, and clearly establish PEMCO as the local company that is just as unique as the people living here. A company that truly "gets it" because we live, work, learn and play in the same neighborhoods and communities as they do.

In order to show them that we know them in ways that others don't, the PEMCO Northwest Profiles were born. Over 100 types of local characters found in this special region - highly recognizable to those who know the area and culture intimately. The campaign, which was launched in television, radio, print, out-of-home, online and through strategic partnerships, gained popularity and talk about PEMCO and the Northwest Profiles increased and consumer suggestions for new profiles were offered frequently.

Read more →

People are talking. Is anyone listening?


There's a powerful message for marketers embedded in the elections taking place this week. The voice of the customer is alive and well.

It's the time in our country when we are reminded that the voice of the public really matters. Our insights, opinions, the things we like, and the things that wear us out come to the surface of conversations and debates. Loyalists and advocates for candidates, causes, initiatives, and groups have raised their voices in family rooms, coffee shops, town hall meetings, and many other face-to-face venues. Social networks are abuzz with status updates, blog entries, and highly efficient tweets that are expressly intended to let our friends, family, and members of the voting public - that we've never even met - know what matters to us and who we're convinced are the best candidates to solve the issues that we consider important. The volume of our communication is at a level like never before. And what we say matters.

Of course, listening matters too.

Read more →

Mix Thinking with Feeling For Understanding

"More important than being right, or being important, is being truly aware." - Jessica Hagy

It was one of hundreds - maybe thousands - of tweets that fly through my twitter stream on a daily basis. The odds of me seeing, opening, and exploring the link attached to this one were low. But because it was posted by a friend that I haven't connected with recently, I made the time. I'm glad I did.

Read more →

Rather illuminating

WOMM Advice From A Broadcast Legend

What advice would a 60-year broadcast-news icon offer that pertains to word of mouth marketing? 

A Small Rather

I recently had the privilege to meet Dan Rather – the 2012 recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement presented annually by the Washington State University Murrow College of Communications. It was a rare privilege to see the genuine interest that the longtime CBS news reporter, London correspondent, and network news anchor had in the students that he addressed -both in the classroom and during his keynote address.

As I reflect on his remarks, I can’t help but consider the stark contrast that exists between the education that Rather received and the tools that were available to him with those of aspiring young professionals in the digital age. Rather spoke of the transformation that occurred between the day in 1963 when he broke the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Texas and the four days in September of 2011 when he anchored the CBS News coverage of attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

“The digital age has ushered in a new era of speed and accessibility in today’s transfer of information. But meanwhile, a trend of rising confusion in America and a lack of faith in the press has emerged,” Rather said.

Read more →

Don't forget the bells and whistles!

Ring out passion, enthusiasm, Eagerness, and Commitment

Bells and WhistlesA weathered bell and tarnished whistle are tied together on a faded and discolored ribbon, and sit on the credenza behind my desk as valuable reminders of what not to forget or take for granted. A client of an agency deserves their best – including the bells and whistles – not just when presentations are made to win the initial business, but throughout the relationship as well. The same is true for consumers who purchase the products and services that are sold in retail businesses and online websites as well. They deserve – and increasingly expect – more than a product in exchange for a price. They’re seeking added value – the surprise and delight – that comes with bells and whistles.

Please read the rest of the story by clicking on this link to my guest column published in the September 11th edition of All Things WOMM.

Routine or Remarkable?

Are your products and services remarkable? Does your messaging tell people why?

Jeff Bezos, founder of, has been quoted as saying that “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”

For decades, brands and their agencies have looked for magic messages to compensate for the unremarkable; persuasive messages that could be shouted into the unsuspecting ears of the public; messages that differentiate based on what, where and for how much, but seldom by sharing a story of why the brand exists.

Read more →

Where's The Social Sales Professional?

Have you heard what they’re saying?

social funnelAnalysts watching emerging engagement trends have identified sales professionals as the least likely group to commit to the adoption and use of social media. Really? Marketing departments and communication teams get it. Public relations and brand managers are on board. And now we’re seeing a shift toward the use of social media by customer service teams and contact centers as well. What about social media for sales people? Why has it taken that group longer to catch on and catch up to their peers throughout the organizations that they work for?

Some argue that the lack of explicit buy-in is due in large part to the time-honored truism often expressed as WIIFM, or “what’s in it for me?” In short, the sales professional hasn’t been able to see the sale as an outcome of their engagement. Are you still wondering how time spent utilizing popular social media tools will favorably impact your revenue and income? Let’s look for some answers.

Read more →

Market Mix 2012

womma - logo - med
Word of mouth is, without question, the most powerful form of marketing. Over 90% of consumers have at least one brand-related face-to-face conversation each and every day. Nearly 80% of us say we trust recommendations from other consumers while more than 75% believe that companies are untruthful in their advertising. Clearly, today’s smart marketers are seeking out ways to stimulate consumer conversations and generate sustainable buzz

On Tuesday, March 20th, I'll have the opportunity to introduce MarketMix attendees to WOMMA – the organization that I discovered in 2007 that  has made a remarkable difference in the success of PEMCO’s rejuvenated brand and campaign.

I'll share the five key principles of effective word of mouth marketing along with the four decisions that every marketer and brand manager can make to fuel the conversation and create engagement for their brands. Are you looking for an edge? Then this is a session you won’t want to miss!  Reserve your seat today.
Read more →

Are you asking the right questions?

Geno Church

Do you have a word of mouth notebook for the answers?

A friend and amazingly successful practitioner of word of mouth marketing, Geno Church, is a regular contributor to the Brains On Fire blog. Geno has a wealth of great information to share that frequently causes me to consider ways to improve and inspires me to ask better questions when seeking answers.

For instance, consider this final paragraph from one of Geno's most recent posts. 

The question we’re asked most often after a presentation (and on our blog) is “Where do I start?” The answer to that question can be found in an even bigger question eloquently expressed in a recent blog post by Ed Keller: “Marketers can’t choose a “social strategy” without first understanding the motivations of consumers to share. There’s your answer: “What motivates your customers to share?” I would also add your employees into that equation, too. So let’s do a little WOM project together. Let’s take a week to start digging into what motivates your employees and your customers to share. Dust off that Moleskine, Field Notes or notepad and let’s have some conversation.

I encourage you to read the entire post. The story's a great one and the nuggets of knowledge are plentiful.

Tireless and Talkable Campaigns:

Decisions slide

Four decisions every brand can make to fuel the conversation

In the Northwest, everyone knows the guy who sports a pair of sandals with a pair of wool socks. Around here, there are certain quirks that set the people of this corner of the country apart from other regions.

That’s the sentiment at the center of PEMCO Insurance’s award-winning “We’re A Lot Like You. A Little Different.” advertising campaign, which features more than 70 tongue-in-cheek descriptions of people frequently spotted around the Northwest, including the ever-popular Sandals and Socks Guy.

Read more →

The New Currency Of Successful Brands

CMR 2012

Analytics and measurement won’t get the job done. Passion makes a huge difference. Content excellence is the critical secret sauce for winning businesses!

Thursday, January 26th, I will have the privilege of providing the opening address to attendees of the second annual Content Marketing Retreat at the Center for New Media in Langley, Washington.

That’s more than a little ironic because I consider myself to be more of a student than a teacher on the topic. In fact, as critical as I know content excellence to be, I continue to assess and shift the thinking that will ultimately be embodied in the content direction and strategy that our company, PEMCO Insurance, embraces. 

Of the things that I am most certain there is one that stands out – one that I’m most passionate about. The voice of the customer will be at the heart of our success and content excellence, regardless of the source, must be embraced, encouraged, and enabled in order to consistently win in the marketplace.

Russell Sparkman, founder of Fusionspark Media and organizer of next weeks retreat, visited my office where we talked about a variety of topics expected to be addressed during the two day event. One that he asked me to give some thought to centers on executive leadership and support for newly emerging strategies. Here are some of the thoughts that I shared.

Read more →

Focus on fitness, communication, and connections.

focusFocus is a very good thing!

Earlier this month, as the new year began, I boldly posted an entry to this blog declaring that I would have "No New Resolutions" in 2012.  The reason, simply stated, is that my resolve to accomplish a few specific goals in 2011 needs my continued focus and commitment. To spread myself too thin only deverts my attention from the most important things.

As a PEMCO colleague likes to say "Keep the main thing the main thing."

Within days of my post, Russell Sparkman, the founder of FusionSpark and organizer of the second annual Content Marketing Retreat in Langley, Washington, contacted me with the following question.

"With focus being core to your success, what would you say is the most important area of focus for marketers in the coming year?"

This was my response...

Read more →

Make your personality the focus of your personal brand.

Sally Square

Fascinating is her middle name!

I recently had the opportunity to meet a truly "fascinating" woman. Her name is Sally Hogshead (she jokes about her last name but I won't do that here), and she is the Creative Director and Chief Fascination Officer of the company she founded, Fascinate, Inc.

Sally is an nationally recognized and accomplished marketer, author, and speaker whose most recent work focuses on the power of persuasion, and why we become captivated by certain messages or people. Her book is titled "FASCINATE: - Your 7 Triggers of Persuasion and Captivation," and outlines the 7 triggers of fascination: Power, Passion, Mystique, Prestige, Alarm, Vice, and Trust.

Sally has created the "{F}-Score Brand Personality Test" which helps people like you and me better understand the triggers that dominate our brands as individuals. For me, the two dominate triggers are Power and Passion - two that probably come as no surprise to those that know me best. 
Read more →

Integration is key!

Word of Mouth Marketing: The Buzz about Online and Offline Buzz

talkers c

As social media becomes the focus of attention for marketers, it is essential that we not forget the power and influence of good old fashioned face to face conversations. 

Early in my term as Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Board President, I expressly commissioned an Offline Word of Mouth Task Force, headed by former board member Stuart Sheldon, to advance the awareness and importance of offline conversations in order to bring emphasis to this critical area for our membership. 

At last week’s WOMMA Summit, the task force convened a conversation to discuss the importance and relevance of offline word of mouth marketing. In addition to Sheldon, who is the Co-President of Escalate, members of the task force and panel included Brad Fay, COO of Keller Fay Group, Chris Laird, CEO of Tremor, and Idil Cakim, VP of NM Incite.

Among the topics discussed was: "What is offline WOM? How is it similar to or different from online WOM?" 

As a preamble to the conversation, Laird, in a November 15th Forbes article titled, “Why Digital Still Can’t Beat Word of Mouth In Sharing Brand Messages,” shared his perspective on that question. He cited survey results from Keller Fay’s recent work and spoke to the dramatic difference in online and offline influence. One excerpt from the story is as follows…

Read more →

Someone was listening!

Rod Card - Prolango

Relationships matter!

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a large group of people attending the ProLango Career Mixer in Seattle.  It was a great networking style event with people from a variety of careers engaged in conversations on topics that were as varied as the people in the room. One thing that most everyone had in common was an understanding that relationships matter and that it is important to build your personal and professional networks before you need them. The power of our network is directly related to the energy we put into it.  Last night there was a lot of energy being shared.

Someone was listening!
As I closed my remarks I shared my thoughts about the power of a handwritten card. I believe that this simple and "old school" tool, used appropriately, can help differentiate the writer from the pack of similarly skilled individuals. It's memorable.

Read more →

An edgy lesson, retold

An active network And A story can come together in ways that help others.

ProLango Paul Medium
I can't begin to count the number of times that I've talked with people about the power of the network and the importance of building and nurturing relationships. The reality of that belief and the way networks return what is put into them never ceases to surprise and delight me.

About a year ago I made a new acquaintance named Paul Anderson. I don't recall whether our paths first crossed on Twitter, Facebook or Linked In and it's actually not all that important. What I do remember, and what is important, is that our first connection was one that we made online. We connected because Paul had something of mutual interest that he said he would like to talk to me about.

Read more →

Can you hear me now?

Listening quote

Last week two experiences came together from opposite ends of the spectrum. 

The first, as a customer, was frustrating and disappointing. I found myself struggling to communicate with a popular national brand who simply wasn't listening or responding.  

The second, as an executive, was positive, enjoyable, and engaging. 

In that situation I was engaging with 75 marketing professionals...Ppeople who wanted to become more effective at creating conversation worthy buzz for their brands or for those of their clients.

I'll share the story of the brand when the "case study" is ultimately closed. In the meantime, I'd like to share the presentation with you.

As marketers, just like as people, we can look beyond our minimum responsibilities and make decisions that will make a difference. That is an opportunity to create a positive edge.  

There are things we can decide to do... To listen. To be affected. To respond. To Engage.

What will you decide? Will you see the edge?

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

And she told two friends...

Heather (med)And so on. And so on...
In the early eighties a challenger brand of organic shampoo products hired a little known actress, Heather Locklear, to demonstrate the power of word of mouth in the success of an emerging talkable brand. In the memorable commercial, Heather demonstrated how remarkably effective and important the voice of the customer can be. It was as simple as two friends telling two friends... over and over and over again.

Thirty years later the tools are more sophisticated, the techniques have evolved, and the customer has more influence than ever before. Word of mouth marketing is no longer optional. It is essential and smart companies are baking it into the daily operations of their organizations.

WOMMA, the pioneering association for brands and agencies, is bringing the story to Seattle. It's a chance for marketers to participate in a face to face knowledge forum where brands and practioners openly share and discuss their social marketing successes, learnings, and best practices.

For more information and links to the agenda and registration, just click here.  (And you'll be able to see what Heather Locklear looked like in that old commercial too)

Get Inspired

Inspire Med

Have you ever heard of a BHAG

It's an acronym for an organizations Big Hairy Audacious Goal - A concept first introduced by authors Jim Collins and Terry Porras in their 1996 article entitled Building Your Company's Vision

Today I had the opportunity to visit with "Get Inspired" podcast hosts, Terry Barber and Carol Chapman about the BHAG that PEMCO Insurance has set out to accomplish - "To never have to advertise for a lead again".

Our discussion touched on several topics including the importance of inspired story telling, standing in the customers shoes and and combining those factors in a way that compels consumers to become brand advocates. 

We discussed the importance that guidance, collaboration, and learning from experience of others can play in the life of a brand and in the lives of individuals.  Examples included the important role that WOMMA plays in guiding and enabling talkable brands; multiple perspectives on fatherhood; and the amazing influence of a mentor and a specific moment in time.  

I hope you enjoy the conversation.  To hear it, simply go here.

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

Fascinate-ing Cards

Fascinating Edge - It's in the cards!Fascinate Cards - Med

Every now and then an edge comes along and hits you right in the face. You recognize it the moment you are exposed to it. An edge like that is so easy to see and share that you can't imagine why it hasn't been presented before. That's the power of 20-20 hindsight. Once the edge has been exposed, it's easy for others to see. 
Read more →

WOMMA: President's Mid-Year Update

WOMMA LogoHalftime Report
It doesn't seem possible that my term as Board President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association is already half over. Wasn't it just last month that we were establishing our strategic direction and work plan for the year? 

No... that took place in January. Now I find myself heading into the second half and feeling very proud of the progress our organization has made.  And the best is yet to come!

If you are a WOMMA member, I hope that the variety of products, services, and events being provided have met and exceeded your value expectations.  If you aren't yet a member of WOMMA, I encourage you to visit our website and discover the many resources that are available to you.

The following is an open letter to the membership and friends of WOMMA that recaps some of the key accomplishments of the second quarter.

Customer Service... The New Marketing

Woman listening - med

Are you listening?

Awareness of word of mouth marketing and the importance that consumer driven communication is playing in the business community continues to increase at an astonishing rate.

Increasingly, conversations are taking place about identifying talkers, loyalists, and advocates. The momentum and movement has found its way out of the experimental idea centers of marketing departments and is showing up in corporate board rooms, vision statements, and strategic planning discussions. 

Listening to the customer is in style again. And this time, the consumer has the power and the tools to make a very real difference.

For more on this topic please advance to The WOMMA Edge, right here.

Business Intelligence TV - June '11

Only win by losing!

BITVHow do you sell a product that people don't understand, don't want to buy and when they do buy, they don't want to use it? And how do would you engage your customers in a way that creates loyalty and advocacy? While this sounds like a very tough sell, the company where I am the C.M.O., PEMCO Insurance, has been recognized as one that does it very well.

I was recently invited to discusses the journey with Bruno Aziza on Microsoft's Business Intelligence TV. We talked about a few of the ways that companies like PEMCO employ social media tools for relationship management and customer engagement. 

To see the video and learn more, just follow the "read more" link below.

Read more →

Tale of the Tweets

Rod Speaking Engagement

What will they say about what you said?

Last week I had the opportunity to make a short presentation at the Social Media 301 Conference, presented by Fresh Consulting on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.  The speakers chosen for this event were outstanding and the buzz from attendees seemed to appreciate the higher level of content that was emphasized. I continue to position myself as a student among thought leaders in this rapidly evolving space, and once again I had several moments of inspiration that I expect will give our company an edge as we continue to mature our efforts in social media and engagement.

Read more →

Likeable takes more than the push of a button

Like Tee Shirt med

If you had a like button, how often would it get pushed?

Have you considered what it really means to be truly likeable? What draws you to those that you like? Is it the way they look, what they say, how they interact with you? Is a persons likeability earned or is it simply a matter of convenience? Are you quick to like the people who are there to help you... or does developing a like for someone require longer term and more meaningful relationships than that?

These are questions that on the surface appear to be all about interrelationships between people - but look again. Have you noticed the growing number of brands that are inviting, encouraging, even propositioning you to "like" them?  You can't go far without a "like" button being nearby in our digital world.
Read more →


Hour Glass / Stop Watch MedHow we use our time

There are a few things that are the same for all of us. We must breath to live. Because we live, we will all die. And in between there are the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds in a day for everyone. What is different is how we choose to use that time.

A few years ago I chose to dedicate some of the hours in my day to become a student of word of mouth marketing. One thing led to another, and I offered more of my time to serve as a WOMMA board member - the trade association that is leading the way in the word of mouth space.

Read more →

Lets Get Ethical


The rules of the game have changed.

No longer is consumer behavior driven exclusively by traditional marketing and advertising, or by the influences of mass-media opinion-leaders.

Today those consumers are making decisions after hearing the opinions of peers, friends and even strangers. Most often, those new, powerful lay-influencers make their opinions known online, completely outside the influence of traditional public relations.

Read more →

What gets said matters

Culture, advocates, & word of mouth  

SCS Swag - Med
During the past week I had the opportunity to attend the fourth annual BazaarVoice Social Commerce Summit in Austin, Texas. It was a great even that was exceptionally well hosted and was attended by over 600 practitioners and thought leaders. 

I couldn't help notice the frequency with which featured speakers and attendees spoke with authority about the importance of word of mouth marketing and advocacy as critical success factors in the social commerce space. The message was loud and clear. The consumer is quickly becoming the "brand manager" for your company. What she experiences, shares, and talks about is far more influential than what a brand can say and share about itself.
Read more →

Fan Auction Rocks!

AEV Logo MedWhat's a fan or follower worth?

Just when you thought that Facebook fans and Twitter followers had to be earned by building relationships, offering relevant content, and generally being helpful and interesting, the world is being introduced to FanAuction. And it's a CMO's dream.

Ant's Eye View, an industry leading customer engagement consulting firm, after years of development effort announced the launch of a groundbreaking fan arbitrage service this morning. This is one that most people didn't see coming and it's definately going to be a edge to those who use it.

As an Ant's Eye View client, I've had the chance to be part of the "stealth" test period. As amazing as it sounds, FanAuction really works. No longer is listening, responding, or adding value a requirement. Now it's as easy as placing an order and writing a check.  How many fans do you need? Just start bidding.

Read more →

The Art Of Storytelling

Imelda - smallListen with Empathy

Over the weekend, a friend that I've never met face-to-face visited this blog and posted an entry in my guest book - "Your Edge" - (I hope you will do the same). Her name is Imelda and I know her as @imeldadulcichPR. She is one of the growing number of amazing people I've met as a result of being a member of a very special Twitter community. Imelda wrote about her edge that comes from empathetic listening and story telling. She brings the art to a new level of appreciation and respect. One that often brings tears to the eyes of the person she is listening to. And then the magic happens. That's when Imelda turns the listening edge into a successful art of memorable storytelling. Stories are so very powerful.

Read more →

School Of WOM

WOMMA LogoLove the Keynotes

The School of WOM is a “must attend” event for anyone who is interested in advancing the effectiveness of their social engagement with customers and clients. My favorite parts are the amazing keynote speakers. At last year’s event, I was struck by the brash declarations from keynote speakers like Jeffery Hayzlett when he drilled into Kodak’s four “E’s” of social media:

1) Engage 2) Educate 3) Excite 4) Evangelize…

and the simple brilliance of Jeanne Bliss sharing the five decisions that drive customer loyalty and build businesses. “Customers build businesses, not marketing budgets.”

I’ll be there again this May. Here's my top ten reasons why you should be too.

Hope to meet you there!

Media & Engagement - Nouns & Verbs

SM Logos with Twitter Bird -Med

Where You Focus Makes A Difference

There's a lot of talk, interest and even fear associated with "social media" these days. 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are the big four that most of the conversation gets focused on. And certainly they deserve our attention and consideration. But at the end of they day they are just tools. 

That's right. At it's most base level, social media is a noun, and these popular social networks are tools that we can choose to use to build our businesses, our brands, and our personal and professional networks. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Read more →

Edge to the little guy? Or will billions win?

Fighting Carriers - Med

What will $4 BILLION buy?

The big guys in the personal lines insurance industry must be charging way too much for their product.  Why else would they be able to spend BILLIONS, yes I said BILLIONS, of dollars kicking each other around the broadcast airwaves. Flo versus Mayhem vs Geckos, Cavemen and whatever else Warren Buffet's money can buy.  Where is it going to stop? And when? 

According to Advertising Age, it doesn't look like the budgets on crazy spending are going to be cut anytime soon.  And all for a product you don't understand, don't want to buy, and don't want to use once you've bought it.  How does that make any sense? 
Read more →

MarketMix 2011

social logosOpen to new introductions

I am feeling flattered and humble for the number of kind words and notes I've received since part one of a three part conversation was published earlier this month.  The conversation was between Håkan Söderbom, Konsult Partners, and I - primarily as an introductory promotion for MarketMix 2011 in Seattle on March 9th.

Håkan asks great questions and then allowed me to tell a few stories that I tried to connect to his questions.  Sometimes they fit. Sometimes not so much. But either way, Håkan was gracious and patient.

As I now reflect back on our conversation, I am seeing the edge a little more clearly.  The edge was partially in the stories being told, but the less visible edge was in the process by which the conversation came to be.

I had never met Håkan prior to the day he walked into my office to conduct the interview. Our connection was entirely based on the use of social media. That, along with an openess to meet new people and help them accomplish their objectives, may be the edge worth noting. Håkan introduced himself and asked if we could meet in a single tweet.

Are you open to meet new people? Would you have responded to a tweet? Are you missing out on an edge?

Here's the full story.

Values, Passion & Experience

Man presenting med

The presentation edge.

Standing at the front of the auditorium with a remote microphone attached to your shirt collar is frequently described as a frightening experience - one that causes palms to sweat and voices to crack. But for me, it's a rush. I get fueled by the energy of the people in the audience and the opportunity to share. 

Sure, there's a nervous excitement that comes with each new opportunity. Thoughts go flashing through my mind about whether the video will work and hoping that the joke will get a laugh. But when that nervousness is converted to enthusiasm, the adrenaline takes over in a way that feels pretty special. Like an actor on a stage, or a trial lawyer in a courtroom, the passionate presenter knows that feeling.

Read more →

A Traveler's Edge

Plug - Traveler's Friend
Powerful Airport Friend Maker
Ever find yourself needing an airport power outlet to charge your laptop, phone, or iPad?

Did you discover that everyone else had the same need, and all the outlets were being used?

Gain an edge by carrying one of the "orange outlet thingies" that turn one outlet into three.

It's a really great way to power up and make new friends at the same time.

Note: I was given an "orange thingie" by my friend Andy Sernovitz at a conference his company hosted last year.  I've been carrying it ever since.  I seem to make a new friend and start a conversation every time I pull it out of my bag!  Thanks Andy.

Stories Provide An Edge

Brains on Fire Book - sm


Friends of mine - people I met through the Word of Mouth Marketing Association - wrote a book last year. They named it after their company "Brains On Fire," and now they are igniting movements and inspiring story tellers far and wide. Co-founder and "Courageous President" Robbin Phillips sent me a special autographed copy during the holidays that I finally had time to begin reading. Wow! I'm really enjoying it!

It's a rapid fire page turner for sure.
Filled with ideas, insights, and inspiring cases of effective word of mouth movements, it inspired me to use some of their key thoughts when I spoke to PEMCO's top sales people at our annual awards dinner.
Read more →

Winning ethically


Using Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Win, Ethically

It's one thing to see the edge, but it's another to take advantage of an edge unethically. In this post, on behalf of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, I share my thoughts on ethical "WOM" with PRSA members.

"Social Media is Like Teen Sex *

Everyone wants to do it. Nobody knows how.

Teen Sex

There are at least two versions of this presentation on SlideShare these days.  The two most recent are identical to one another except one gets your attention a little faster by using the "F" word in the title.  It's just there for the edginess and doesn't add value to the message. So I'm using the PG-13 version here.

I've returned to this presentation several times and find it to be informative and somewhat inspiring. 
Read more →

Activating Advocates - Example

The fundamentals of elements of WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing) are pretty straight forward and easy to understand: 
  1. Step one: Figure out who the people are that care enough about what you are selling to talk about it. (Know your talkers).
  2. Step two: Create easy to remember talking points about what you are selling so that you can share them with the people who care enough to talk about you from step one. (Give them something to talk about).
  3. Step three: Provide easy ways for the people in step one, to communicate the messages from step two, easily, quickly and broadly to other people who might be persuaded to join the ranks of the people in step one. (Make it easy to share).
Read more →

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

blog categories

latest tweets

stay in touch