According to Ed Keller, CEO of Keller Fay Group, all media is social and offline word-of-mouth (WOM) is just as important as its online counterpart. This distinction is missed by many social/digital marketers, much to their detriment. How a product or service is presented means virtually nothing compared to the impact of those who share their experience with that product or service. It is the act of communication—whether an endorsement or gripe, rant or recommendation—from someone we trust that determines to great extent how we formulate our own opinion.

This is especially true in the movie industry. This past summer was an expensive lesson for major studios in that, despite very hefty marketing budgets, many films failed. Action movies in particular have their formulas, their heroes and most likely an earlier version—or two or even three. Yet, their target audiences stayed away from at least seven major films this summer by my count. There may be many reasons why these movies failed at the box office, but it certainly wasn’t from abandoning their formula or excluding box office stars. These films are focus-grouped to death to try to guarantee success. What largely contributed to their poor performance was that the expensive hype and buzz prior to the opening could not overcome the actual movie experience and resulting word-of-mouth. “Don’t bother seeing this movie” is the ultimate vote that thousands of consumers cast over and over again. Online or offline didn’t matter and their peers and friends took them at their word. Hollywood thought they had the formula down, the stars in place and the plotline and action scenes scripted just so. But it didn’t work.

So what is the lesson to learn here? Whether it is B2B or B2C, be sure your product or service delivers on its promise. If it does, you’ll get great WOM; if not—watch out. All the social media tools and platforms in the world will not be able to overcome the negative WOM that can stop a speeding mega-action movie in its tracks.

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.