Trout Knows Jack

Marketing guru Jack Trout complains in Forbes that everyone is talking about word-of-mouth marketing as if it's a cure-all for whatever ails you.  Bad PR?  Do a word-of-mouth campaign.  Spending boatloads of money on advertising?  Word-of-mouth works better for a fraction of the cost.  Need to lose weight, grow some hair, save the planet?  You guessed it.  And on it goes.

Trout is telling most of us what we already know: word-of-mouth isn't new and it's not the next big/only/right thing.  I sometimes hear the same things about cause marketing, but I bet Trout would agree that those people don't know jack.

  • Cause marketing isn't the ONLY thing, it's ANOTHER thing.  If you only did cause marketing you'd be missing the hundred other things you need to do to market your business--including the dreaded "A" word: Advertising.  On the other hand, if you are marketing, but not using cause marketing, you're Jack_of_diamondmissing out on another good way to enhance your efforts and impact the bottom line.
  • Cause marketing is unique but not different.  The term cause marketing describes a unique partnership between a nonprofit and a for profit.  But the goal is no differnt from any other form of marketing: keeping customers, getting customers (Or, to put it bluntly: making money.).  If you're doing cause marketing for any other reason, you should just donate anonymously and stop wasting everyone's time.
  • Cause marketing is different but not unique.  While most forms of marketing give your product or service visibility with consumers, cause marketing enhances your favorability with them.  When I sold underwriting for public television, prospects would question the value of underwriting when they were already buying radio, sponsorships, direct mail, TV and print--and plenty of it.  The answer was that while all those other vehicles gave them visibility with consumers, none of them was enhancing their credibility.  That was underwriting's competitive edge.

But cause marketing isn't the only way to enhance credibility.  It's not a bad idea to sell an outstanding product that solves people's problems either.

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