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Summary: The Hidden Persuaders

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In The Hidden Persuaders, Rob Walker described what Word of Mouth (WOM) is, some background of a Word of Mouth company, joined companies and agentsÐŽ¦ beneficence after participation, and the related ethical problem.

In his article, Walker stayed that Word of Mouth is a untraditional advertising strategy in which companies, instead of selling advertisement on the public medias, have all different backgroundÐŽ¦s people to sign up as agents. WOM got rid of the conventional marketing strategy, selling products to main street Americans; instead, they have main street Americans to sell their products.

The WOM company, BzzAgent, mentioned in WalkerÐŽ¦s article is a three-year old company located at Boston. Its owner, Dave Balter, was working in loyalty marketing, which rewards long-term credit card users for not switching company, He has his WOM company built after reading an article about WOM.

Al Fresco was one of the company joined WOM. They have around 2000 WOM agents signed up, which was relatively impossible with other marketing technique. Because of the enthusiasm of agencies, the company have significant boost up on their market selling; for example, in some stores, they have a hundred percent selling increment.

WOM also gives benefit to agents. Balter did worry about the successfulness of BzzAgent at the beginning since the leak of reward. However, he found out that people who became an active agent was not because of the rewards, they looked for something else. For example, one of the agents, Karen Bollaert, said that her participation was due to her opportunities to sample free new products and her likeness of giving others opinion of good products. WOM also changes agentsÐŽ¦ life; for example, Jason Desjrdins, who sign up BzzAgent on the internet. Because of it, his personality switched, from a shy guy who would rarely pick up the phone and talk to a talkative guy who would actively pick up the phone and talk with customers.

Because nobody know when would the stranger they talk to on the street is an agent or not, WOM raise the concern of ethical problems. In the article, nevertheless, Walker pointed out that agents have no obligation about hiding their identity. Furthermore, WOM is a win-win marketing strategy because, instead of cheating, agents sell what they like honestly and customers get products an agent wants to share.



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