'Influentials' Author Forms Word-Of-Mouth Research Company
Keller, the former CEO of Roper ASW and author of the book "Influentials: How 1 in 10 Americans Tells the other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy," said he intends to investigate beyond word-of-mouth by delving beyond blogs and message boards.
"The percentage of people who report that they post on blogs or even read blogs is relatively small. What you have there is a very rich amount of information from a very small amount of people," Keller said. "This is about how well the messages that are out there in the word-of-mouth environment are penetrating as a whole: How do we know if it's taking hold, and if we're getting word of mouth, and how do we know if it's positive or negative?"
Keller will help the new firm. and co-founder Brad Fay, former managing director at Roper ASW, will serve as chief operations officer.
To investigate what consumers are saying offline and in e-mail or private chats, Keller Fay will interview 100 people daily about which products and brands they talk about, what recommendations they receive, and what actions they plan to take as a result.
"This'll be 35,000 plus people a year--over 100,000 brand mentions will be tracked, and this will be the first system that will allow people to see the conversations that are going on, and it will allow them to plan better word-of-mouth programs," said Keller.
Plus, the initiative, dubbed TalkTrack, will also include word-of-mouth pretesting campaigns, Keller said. "We've got some techniques that we're offering as well, around pre-testing word of mouth," he said. "One, to help to determine--number one--is this something that's going to be noteworthy and remarkable and worth talking about? Secondly, if they do, what will they say? That's the great unknown here. I can hope someone will say something, but if my message isn't clear and noticeable, it's not going to work." Keller Fay's first client to sign on for TalkTrack is the Starcom Mediavest Group, which represents blue-chip clients such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Kellogg's, and Procter & Gamble.