When Jessica George joined Empower MediaMarketing in May 2008, she knew she was charting new territory. As head of the company’s new Word-of-Mouth Marketing unit, not only was she starting a department from scratch, but she also had to help the rest of the company understand the importance of its mission. Plus, she says with a laugh, her first day “was two days before my 30th birthday. That’s a good way to start your 30s, right?”
Her first hurdle: get everyone in the company aboard. So George launched an “internal road show” to discuss Word-of-Mouth with top executives. It was a slam dunk. George “revolutionized our company by helping others think much deeper about the information [needed to] deliver a true media and marketing plan,” says Empower CEO Jim Price.
Once people were on the same page, George says she “looked for clients that understood the value of word of mouth [and] who were willing to take some risks with their marketing dollars.”
One of her biggest accomplishments was helping Bush’s Beans break into the Hispanic market. Her unit launched a mobile kitchen tour in 10 U.S. markets—with a focus on Texas—that offered tastings, gave out recipes, and hosted games. It created half a million one-on-one engagements, and some 200,000 samples were eaten by customers. The tour boosted all of Bush’s key markets and helped Texas outpace the category.
George’s command of the online space has also helped deliver impressive results. For Rust-Oleum’s Cabinet and Countertop Transformations lines, she invited influential DIY bloggers to work with the products and share their experiences with readers online. Together the blogger campaign resulted in more than 230 million impressions at a cost-per-touch of just .00039 cents.
George’s practice so far has had more than $7 million in billings, and her team is projected to have its largest billings increase year over year in 2012. “It comes down to the end product,” says George. “If you think about it, if we didn’t use word of mouth to build our practice, it would be kind of silly.”