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 A contributing writer for Fast Company, Lucas Conley is an experienced journalist with an eye for stories that change how we see the world. Widely published in a number of[…]

When advertisers start to intrude on word-of-mouth recommendations, it’s red flag, Lucas Conley warns.

Question: Are you against niche level marketing?

Lucas Conley: Yeah, I am. I think there are a couple areas in particular. Word of mouth marketing is an interesting field and I can talk about that and neuromarketing where the use of brain scans and understanding of how the brain works is being applied to marketing. And I think those two areas while they’re still nascent fields are going to require regulation within the next decade or two. We’re going to get to a point where neuromarketers talk about searching for the buy button in the brain, and the idea is simply how can we get you to buy? It’s... This is a for-profit relationship we have with marketers and with the- but the intention is to sell goods if it’s- whether it’s with neuromarketing, understanding how your brain works, what photos, what images, what words work to kind of shortcut your critical thinking and go straight for your emotions or if it’s word of mouth it’s formalizing a campaign in to kind of conversations and actually sending out materials to groups of people who essentially work for you as part of a community and will pitch these goods to their friends, their coworkers, their family, whether it’s teens or moms. There’s hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. right now who are part of formal word of mouth marketing campaigns, and 850,000 work for Procter and Gamble which doesn’t require them to reveal their affiliation with the products they pitch which are not just Procter and Gamble products. They’re Coca-Cola products or Toyota products or Warner music. The connection is lost in the actual word of mouth campaign. You don’t know sometimes that you are being pitched these goods,  that it’s not a genuine organic recommendation, and that’s a trust issue. That’s... It’s an important thing that we rely on, word of mouth, whether it’s online or in person to get good products, to find good services. It’s buzz, what’s new, what’s interesting, and when marketers can kind of find their way into that, that’s also something we should be concerned about.


Recorded on: 7/23/08