Randy Lopez: How to Create Word of Mouth on Zero Budget — live from Word of Mouth Supergenius

9:35 — Jim Lovelady introduces Randy Lopez of Johnson Gray Advertising.

9:36 — Randy introduces his background with non-traditional marketing and guerilla marketing.

9:36 — Randy: My background is really working with companies that have no real budget.

9:36 — Randy: Having no money can actually be freeing — it really puts you in that rebel mindset.

9:36 — Randy says at the end of the day, people only talk about things that are interesting.

9:37 — Randy: I love art, I love the creative process, and I love hanging around people who love to do creative things. Word of mouth is really a chance for us to do a lot of thinking and be creative. You don’t really need tools, you can always find things and improvise.

9:38 — Randy says he also comes from a theatre background, and says that marketing — word of mouth — it’s theatre. Randy says he once worked at Disney, and said the mindset was that whenever you were in the park, you were on stage — and says this is an important thing to apply to our marketing.

9:39 — Randy: We’re creating an experience.

9:40 — Randy shows a picture of the candy palace in Disney that has a vent, which wafted the smell of candy and vanilla throughout the area. Randy says it’s like this all over Disney — it’s like an assault on the senses.

9:41 — Randy: What do you own? When you’re working with your brand or organization, it’s about this question. Everyone owns something, and you have to celebrate that.

9:41 — Randy says that most email marketers fail because they fail to give out any information. Getting coupons about trying a $5 sandwich, Randy explains, gives no context or insights.

9:41 — Randy: People want insights and surprises.

9:42 — Randy says that he worked with an agency that didn’t have any money, but wanted to help a restaurant organization get the money out, so they created a spoof email of a traditional industry publication. They put random articles in — much like the Onion — and people read it and loved it.

9:43 — Randy talks about CafePress, where can create and sell things without spending any money. Randy shares how they created “Headline” mugs and “Blame” mugs that were funny. They said they sold a ton of them and it helped get their brand out there.

9:44 — Randy goes in to some of his favorite WOM generatores on no money. He says it’s about using little ideas and making them work harder.

9:45 — Randy shares an example of a Viagra light switch, and says humor or not, it’s a simple, easy way to get people talking. He also continues with the potential of business cards, because you’re printing them anyways — he recommends adding some of your personality here.

9:46 — Randy: Really, it’s all about improvisation. It’s all about being timely, with the ability to get in there and just make things happen.

9:48 — Randy: Focus on what you say, and where you want to say it.

9:49 — Randy talks about his work with an engagement store, and asked everyone to send in their engagement videos. He said it was incredible the amount of content they got. They put them together, and put together a commercial spot — all out of content they paid nothing for.

9:50 — Randy reminds everyone that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. He says that sometimes you’ve got to be careful, and talked about the example of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla marketing fiasco in Boston a few years ago.

9:51 — Randy talks about the power of a phone. He says he once called in a radio station and talked about a promotion they were doing, and it got a bunch of airplay and helped drive in traffic.

9:52 — Randy shares some examples of icons, like a bench at Knoxberry farms that families have taken pictures with for generations.

9:53 — Randy: You’re probably already doing something around an icon, find a way to share it.

9:54 — Randy shares a polaroid from Gaterland Zoo in 1996, and talks about how it would have made a great ad or item to share.

9:55 — Randy recommends keeping a camera on you, because you never know what you’re going to see.

9:56 — Randy quickly rolls through things they did with a restaurant chain: Stamps, cheap signs, and funny postage that were inexpensive, but had a little attitude with them.

9:59 — Randy encourages everyone to be creative, to improvise, and to ask: Where do you touch your customers?


Q: Some of these examples you talk about are sort of one-time things, so how do you do continuity?

A: You’re right, a lot of these examples seemed like one-time things, but what we did was try to find a common theme and touchpoints that people could regularly connect with. We threaded a lot of similar ideas throughout.

Q: We partner a lot, can you talk a little bit about leveraging partnerships?

A: Randy says he works a lot with nonprofits, and he himself is a stage 4 colon cancer survivor. Randy says to work with brands that are similar, and to be willing to reach out and let people know about what you’re doing. He says you might be surprised at the response. Randy recommends focusing on cultural fit and values when looking for a partner for a nonprofit.


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  1. Alec Schraegle

    This was a great presentation, it really helped me start the process of creating WOM with zero dollars to spend. The best take away I have is that individuals can find ways to capitalize on uncertain, unseemly situations.

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