Passion_ConversationToday is the day John Moore, author of The Passion Conversation, was supposed to record an audio podcast for Idea Sandbox.

After going back and forth on timing we finally booked an hour to talk. But, John couldn’t “make the call.” When I called his office at Brains on Fire, they said he was out at some beer place.

After some ANGRY conversation our plan to talk about The Passion Conversation fell apart.

But, I promised you – visitors to Idea Sandbox – an interview. So, from our interview notes, I was able to simulate our interview.

[link to audio]

Transcript from Interview

opening music

Paul: Hello, welcome to Idea Sandbox. This is Paul Williams and we are here today to speak with John Moore about his book

John: Well, thank you Paul. It is great to be with you at Idea Sandbox today to talk about our new book “The Passion Conversation.”

Paul: So, let’s jump in with the questions, shall we?

John: Great!

Question 1:


What if a company offers a product that people don’t want to tell others about? A product that does not lend itself to word of mouth?

Preparation H users aren’t posting about the cooling effects in their Twitter feeds.


Yes, products used behind closed doors for very personal reasons are more difficult to spark word of mouth. In the book we share academic research that explains how more visible products, like a can of Red Bull or a Whole Foods Market shopping bag, lend themselves to be talked about because they are highly visible.

While privately used products, like toilet paper or Preparation H, aren’t talked about as much because you’d never use those products in a socially visible setting.

That said, it doesn’t mean word of mouth can’t be sparked for toilet paper or Preparation H.

My advice is to play the humor card because anytime a brand can trigger a strong emotion such as laughter, then word of mouth is easier to happen.

The marketing for One Wipe Charlies from the folks at Dollar Shave Club, plays the humor card to perfection and thus, their “buttwipes” (er, toilet paper) are word of mouth worthy.

For Preparation H, I’d definitely play the humor card to spark word of mouth. For example, Preparation H could run a marketing campaign asking people to tell them “how cool” Preparation H makes them feel. I can envision a whole campaign with people chiming in with something like… “Preparation H makes me feel cooler than the other side of a pillow.”

Question 2:


Thanks, great answer. So, I was also wondering about…

[interruption by unexpected visitor, you’ll have to listen to the podcast…]


John, you write in the book about how you can’t pick who will love you. That we’ve got to be really realistic on who are customers are, versus who you want them to be. Could you tell us more?


Absolutely, Paul. I once worked on a project with Brains on Fire where the CMO of a very large brand chose a specific customer target he wanted to reach.

He wanted to target a very glamorous and sexy audience to evangelize his company’s products, because that’s who he thought were his best customers.

However, his products were sold at downscale retailers and the most enthusiastic customers of this brand we found were not near as glamorous and sexy as the CMO had thought. The customer ambassador program we designed for this brand never took off because the CMO had a different idea of whom the target customer is. Brains on Fire resigned from the account because this CMO failed to be realistic for who his customers truly are.

Question 3:


John, can you please elaborate on the idea of products having a “soul.” A soul for a product is an interesting idea.

You mention that on page 25. But, I also have a second request.

Will you also please use the words “consortium” and “palette” somewhere in your answer?


Hmmm…. okay… let me see what I can do.

Products that are much more than merely palatable have a seemingly broad combination, or consortium, of attributes that lends itself to making people feel better about themselves. The other day at Brains on Fire, Geno Church went around our offices sharing with us how much he enjoys using Ursa Major’s face tonic. Clearly, using this product makes Geno feel better and the ladies here would chime in that his skin looks more supple than ever.

Question 4:


On page 143 you have an exercise that helps companies assess if they went away – meaning went out of business – would they be missed?

You write that if the answer is you would NOT be missed, that you have some work to do. What do you mean? What should a company do or think about to fix that? How does a company get themselves in a place to be missed?


I recommend you re-read pages 1 through 142 of The Passion Conversation. Seriously.

[Paul begins reading the book]


Wait. Not right now.

Question 5:


In your bio summary on the flap of the book you mentioned loving musical tracks that are – and I quote – “on the one.” What does that mean, John?


I’ll let Bootsy Collins answer that question on my behalf…

[shoot, sorry… again… you’ll have to listen for this information, at 5 minute 3 second mark]


Thank you, Bootsy. Back to you, John.

Question 6:


What question do you wish someone asked you about the book that you have a smart answer for?

It’s not a question but rather a person I wish people would ask me about. As we were writing the book we came across Ernest Dichter, an Austrian-born psychologist who spent a lifetime studying human motivations and applying it to marketing brands.

Dichter wrote an absolutely spot-on article for the Harvard Business Review in 1966 titled, “How Word-of-Mouth Advertising Works.” The gist of the article says that when consumers feel as though the advertising speaks them as a friend, then word of mouth recommendations are more likely to be shared. That’s a super-simplistic take on the article. I broke down the article in a long blog post that’s worth reading if you’re intrigued enough to want to know more about Ernest Dichter’s smart thinking on word of mouth marketing.


Well that concludes this interview. If you haven’t already, pick up the book today – The Passion Conversation – at your local bookstore or online.

Thank you again for being here, John.


Thank YOU, Paul. This was a lot of fun.

closing music

Other stops in this tour included:

Check them all out!