You Ask, I Answer: Generational Word of Mouth Differences?

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

You Ask, I Answer: Generational Word of Mouth Differences?

Dave asks, “Have you found any generational differences in the amount of word of mouth happening?”

You Ask, I Answer: Generational Word of Mouth Differences?

Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.

Listen to the audio here:

Download the MP3 audio here.

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode, Dave asks, Have you found any generational differences in the amount of word of mouth happening in short now.

Now people talk about things that they like the catch their attention, regardless of age, or gender, or demographic or geographical location or any of those things.

If something’s cool, people talk about it.

People shared people distributed people promoted.

What has changed are the channels where people talk about these things.

50 years ago, it was literally around the watercooler right, or maybe in the newspaper 25 years ago, it was by email, right email and endless, endless forwards.

People forwarding hitting reply all on everything all the time, the bad old days.

10 years ago, it was on Facebook, today, a whole bunch of new channels where people are spreading word of mouth.

Everything from places like next door to you know old school places like Facebook, they are still people technically on MySpace Tiktok, Discord, Slack, you name it.

What has changed is the number of channels available to people.

And the speed at which word of mouth spreads, you know, a group chat or group text, you’re talking about word spreading instantly.

When you talk about things like a discord community or a Slack community, you’re talking about scaling word of mouth, to a large group of people behind closed doors where marketers can’t see.

But the word of mouth is 100% happening.

So the generational differences to the extent that there are is really about the channel, the channel of communication, how people prefer to spread the word.

But the underlying fundamentals have not changed, you have to have something worth talking about.

Right word of mouth will not spread if there’s nothing to spread, if your product is exactly the same as a competitor and maybe 2%, cheaper, who cares? If your product is working with one company, their product was twice the price and half the quality of the newest competitor.

And it was always an ongoing struggle to explain to the stakeholders like why why people weren’t talking about the product in a positive light? Well, because it was twice the price and half the half the quality of the company was to competitor.

The challenge, the big challenge is that what constitutes word of mouth, that bar has gotten a little bit higher, not necessarily in the product itself.

But in the ability for one person to get another person’s attention about something, we are living in a media landscape that is so pervasive, that is so attention hungry, that everybody wants us talking about something everybody’s asking us to share to spread the word to promote.

And when everybody’s doing it, it gets really noisy.

So to stand out to have word of mouth be effective, you have to be substantially better than the other things that occupy word of mouth.

Right? You have to be better than the content on Disney plus, you have to be better than the sports team that’s playing, you have to be better than the politicians that pissed you off last week.

And that’s a tall bar.

Because those other things.

Those other things consume a lot of attention.

Attention is the scarcest thing we have, right? I’m thankful that you’re just watching this video at all right? Because you’re giving me attention when you could be giving it to, I don’t know, you know, some politician ranting about something.

We have to figure out how to continue to earn attention and hold on to it.

So if you’re looking at your data, and you’re seeing generational differences, what you really are probably seeing is channel differences, which means that you should do some attribution modeling and figure out where does your attention to come from? And how aggressively are you pursuing getting more of it on the channels that are working without You know, when I look at my data, there isn’t a single channel that is standing out heads and shoulders above all the rest saying this is the channel of beyond except email.

Christopher Penn 5:13

email is the one channel that I have now, maybe I’m just a bad marketer.

But email is the one channel that consistently delivers very high rates of attention.

Everything else, attention seems to be very, very ephemeral, even, you know, the private Slack community and stuff.

getting people’s attention on a regular consistent basis can be challenging, because there’s so much else competing for our attention, so much else competing for the recommendations we make.

The other thing that, again, is not generational, but is a content thing is that we have to remind people to share stuff, we have to ask people for word of mouth, relying on it alone, without that encouragement is really, it’s not a winning strategy.

Right? You’ve got to be able to ask people say, Hey, if you liked this, please tell a friend about it.

If you liked this newsletter, you liked this YouTube video.

Please tell a friend about tell two friends about it.

And not a lot of marketers do that.


A lot of marketers forget to do it entirely myself included.

My My hand is my hand is up in that batch of people forget to ask for word of mouth.

But if you don’t ask you don’t receive.

So that would be my perspective that is not generation or age it is channel and we’ve got to make things easier to spread.

We’ve got to make things easier for word of mouth to happen.

We don’t do that right now.

So really good question.

Thanks for asking.

If you’d like this video, go ahead and hit that subscribe

Unknown Speaker 6:58


You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Take my Generative AI for Marketers course!

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This