Word of Mom: The Real Word of Mouth

September 11, 2009 § 2 Comments

Consider this story of Heather and her new Maytag Washing Machine.

In August, Heather Armstrong, who writes the popular parenting blog Dooce, purchased a $1300 Maytag washing machine, complete with service plan, that broke a week after delivery. As a mom of two small children, sheDOOCE looked upon that washing machine as her weapon against instant insanity, drool and diaper dilemmas. After several frustrating encounters with repairmen and customer service, Armstrong urged her more than one million Twitter followers to not buy a Maytag appliance. And this is what she said:

“So that you may not have to suffer like we have: DO NOT EVER BUY A MAYTAG. I repeat: OUR MAYTAG EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE.”

 After that came several more similar tweets. After those tweets, Heather miraculously talked to the manager of the executive offices of Whirlpool in Michigan, (who actually own Maytag). Then things began to work. Heather got her machine repaired. Bosch wanted to give Heather a new machine that she turned down, but she suggested they donate it to a local Salt Lake City rescue mission. To read her deadly funny, I-can-identify-with-her post about her machine and Maytag, here’s her blog.

But here’s the thing – what we will all remember is that Heather had a bad experience with Maytag. We will not remember how nice the Whirlpool manager was or that her newly repaired machine may last through a million diapers. Probably the worst part of the story for Maytag is that Maytag’s positioning is based on the fact that the machines never break down so the Maytag man has nothing to do.

Bad news travels fast, and reputations are won and lost in a couple of posts today. Just ask Motrin about their recent campaign.

Moms average 109 word-of-mouth conversations per week about products, brands and services. And pregnant and new moms have even more.

To prove it to yourself, just listen to conversations with women. Recently, the Motherlode blog on nytimes.com reported that Publicis USA sends researchers to sit in playgrounds and shopping malls to listen to Mom conversations. They found that we (Moms) mention brand names as frequently as 29 names in 15 minutes.

Add to that little factoid the vast number of Mommy bloggers and you get the picture. Both good and bad news is being sent around the block and the world with the speed of a conversation and a blog posting.

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