In 2006, I led the creation, development and launching of Vocalpoint.com, a community of women with children who loved to learn about new things and share them with their friends. Vocalpoint was designed to systemically and measurably drive consumer Word of Mouth. We created qualified emotionally “disruptive” brand experiencesso potential consumers can experience a brand’s “wow.” We introduced brands through our trusted relationship with our Vocalpoint Members. This combination created emotionally charged Brand Advocates that shared through their social networks (both digitally and face-to-face.)
P&G worked on building an internal Word of Mouth capability since 2001. Its first foray was called Tremor, a community of approximately 230,000 teens (mostly 16-19 year olds) who had a natural desire to share their opinions with basically anybody who was willing to listen. These teens were screened for their “Connector” traits. A Connector was someone with wide social networks and flowed freely between them. Their ability to speak to and potentially influence many others made them quite valuable. Having an army of “Connected” teens speaking on behalf of products sounded great. During the couple of years I led Tremor marketing, we had many in-market successes and developed many case studies on how Word of Mouth can drive incremental volume to brands. The problem was, however, Teens were not the desired target audience of most P&G brands. Before the Gillette acquisition, you could count on one hand how many P&G brands focused on teens.
Vocalpoint was developed in 2006. Vocalpoint was a community of connected women with children and represented a better strategic fit for P&G brands. This was a brand I had the opportunity to develop from white paper concept to in-market launch. Vocalpoint was developed under the premise that people had a natural desire to share with others. The brand stood for “exchanging unexpected gifts of knowledge.” Every word of our equity statement was chosen carefully. “Exchanging” was about sharing but it was important that the share be between Vocalpoint and the community. We wanted to converse directly with the community, not passively listen to what they had to say. “Unexpected” was about surprise. Through the years we realized (with the help of cognitive scientists and psychologists) that disrupting existing consumer schemas was an essential component of word of mouth. “Gifts of Knowledge” was the final element. We wanted to spread joy through enlightenment. It wasn’t enough to give someone a sample and ask them to try; we wanted to give them a sample in a way that was gift-like and gave them a new perspective. In essence, we wanted to change an existing negative or boring perspective about a product and also brighten their day. All together, Vocalpoint was about bringing a large group of women together under the idea they would be able to exchange (they share; we share) cool new ideas, information and opinions. This resultant participatory engagement would create a deeper more trusted relationship. We believed this relationship coupled with our gift-like approach to messaging and materials would inspire our community to share with their friends. The goal was to put a smile on their faces and that they would put a smile on other faces. It was about spreading joy, not just spreading product news.
Vocalpoint continues to grow. It was built on the ideal of creating and spreading joy as well as allowing people to be heard. Over the years it has carefully grown from 300,000 highly engaged women to over 600,000. This may not seem like a lot however, it was about developing a two way connection with people rather than buying facebook fans that have low engagement rates. Unlike the way most brands treat facebook fans, we were not interested in collecting fans like it was the nuclear arms race. We had to make sure that we could brighten their day by providing everyone in the community “gifts of joy” from time to time. Ultimately, we developed relationships that went beyond the simple transactional relationships that most brands have. Spreading joy helps you develop relationships. Developing relationships helps you create advocacy.
I am no longer a part of Vocalpoint but I will always be a part of Vocalpoint. If you want to get your brand’s message in front of a highly engaged community of women, I strongly suggest contacting Dan Carruthers at email@example.com MKTG Inc. is the agency of record and now produces all content for Vocalpoint. If you want to create your own version of Vocalpoint, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can work with your brand team and brand agency to take your existing digital assets and create a hub of advocacy.