August 29, 2005



The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has started a blog to hype its upcoming Conference in NYC. The conversation on the blog (and at the Conference) is about the intersection of word of mouth marketing and advertising. This could get interesting.

I just tossed a marketing missive across the blog waters with this posting:


June 22, 2005

FYI on Word of Mouth ROI

Last March, the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) put on the first-ever summit on the art and science of word of mouth marketing. As a follow-up to that summit, WOMMA is putting on a one-day conference on July 13 in Chicago to help marketers better measure and track their word of mouth marketing efforts.

Here’s what you can expect to learn from attending the MEASURING WORD OF MOUTH CONFERENCE:


According to an email I just received, there are only 60 seats left so you better act quick if you want to attend. Sign up here and if you use the password SPELUNKER, you’ll get $50 off the registration fee. Yep … the password is … SPELUNKER.

March 31, 2005

Pings, Trackbacks, and Comments from the WOMMA Summit


I took page after page of notes from the inaugural Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summit. After culling through them today, I compiled a list of posts which round-up my takeaways and thoughts from the conference.

Go ahead and click-thru the following jump-list of posts.

  • The Mainstreaming of WOM?
  • The Grandfather of WOM Speaks
  • WOM Units and C.P.I.
  • Developing Ethical Guidelines for WOM
  • Influentials vs. Individuals
  • Greater the Promoters, Greater the Growth
  • Opening Kawasaki’s Kimono
  • Guy’s Bad Apple
  • Marketing Metaphor Melee
  • Emanuel Rosen’s 10 Questions Marketers Should Ask
  • David Polinchock Made Me Think
  • Viralmentalist – the Coolest New Word in Marketing

    Don’t just take my impressions from the conference. Be sure to check out other WOMMA round-up postings from these blogs:

  • Brand Experience Lab (David Polinchock)
  • Church of the Customer (McConnell | Huba)
  • Community Guy (Jake McKee)
  • A Penny For (Todd Sattersten)
  • Business Blog Consulting (Rick Bruner)
  • Conference Calls Unlimited blog (Zane Safrit)
  • Keith Bates blog
  • (Keith Bates)

    The Mainstreaming of WOM?

    In his State of the Industry address, Andy Sernovitz (WOMMA CEO) mentioned the long-term goal of having WOM become a mainstream marketing tool.

    Guy Kawasaki commented during his post keynote Q&A that we may be overly optimistic believing WOM will become mainstream. He went on to say that it’ll take a whole generation of marketers to die before WOM goes mainstream.

    Hmm … what if WOM becomes mainstream? Will it become like all the other once tired and true and now tired and trite marketing tactics that we all find to be ineffective?

    My thinking is WOM’s goal should be to become the best and not the biggest. We shouldn’t work to have WOM become the biggest, most used marketing tactic but instead … continuing working to have WOM be the best, most effective marketing tactic.

    The Grandfather of WOM Speaks

    George Silverman, the Grandfather of WOM, has been tracking WOM since the early 70s and wrote the first book on it in 1991 (Secrets of Word-of-Mouth). Throughout the conference George delivered some memorable quotes and interesting observations. Such as …

  • WOM works especially well today because it reduces information. In essence, our social networks edit out all the unnecessary information about unremarkable products and only lets the hyper-relevant information spread.

  • “Sustainable WOM only works for good companies with good products.”

  • “If it is [WOM] 5,000x more powerful [than advertising] than it will attract every sleaze ball out there.”
  • Later in the conference, George elaborated on how brands need to pay attention on how to get consumer’s to pay attention by saying …

    ”Brands better earn it [customer’s attention]. We have the same time currency. We all allocate it differently. Attention is not cheap. It is expensive. Brands attempt and strive to have us pay attention. Brands need to earn it."

    WOM Units and C.P.I.

    There was a lot of chatter about measuring and quantifying WOM during the conference.

    One emerging idea was the concept of a WOM Unit. Jonathan Carson (BuzzMetrics) defines a WOM Unit as “a single unit of marketing-related information.” Another idea discussed was C.P.I. – Cost Per Influencer.

    Anyone else having a hard time imagining presenting a media spend plan with 125 WOM Units at a certain CPI? How much longer until someone proposes an E.I.F (Effective Influencer Frequency) measurement for a WOM campaign?

    Obviously we have work to do on quantifying WOM.

    Developing Ethical Guidelines for WOM

    Question … how can you establish guidelines for something that is still being created and still be understand by its practitioners? I dunno.

    Yet, that’s exactly what we at WOMMA are trying to do with establishing ethical guidelines for WOM.

    My take is to publish a set of general, but well-defined WOM core values and seed them with marketers. Once these core values begin to take root, we then start to built a WOM culture and through this culture-building, social norms for WOM will develop.

    Ultimately shouldn’t it be up to us to self-police ourselves and not to any definitive list of guidelines?

    Can’t we TRUST ourselves to behave properly?

    After all … as advocates for WOM and customer evangelism, we are challenging businesses to TRUST their customers to take ownership of the brands they promote. As such, we oppose businesses dictating how customers should use their brands.

    Why then are we proposing dictating WOM guidelines?

    Where’s the TRUST?

    We talk about how today’s society of attuned consumers and determined detractors will sniff out anything inauthentic and inappropriate. And once they do sniff out the crap, they will go to the mountaintops and tell the whole networked world about it.

    Consumers will police us. And we will police ourselves.

    Do we have enough TRUST in consumers to believe they will police us? Can we TRUST ourselves enough?

    So … why the need to dictate guidelines for WOM when we supposedly have all this TRUST?

    (Yep, you guessed it. I’m a Libertarian.)

    Influentials vs. Individuals

    [UPDATED to include a link to Dave Balter's presentation]

    WOM practitioners are clearly divided on who drives WOM. Some say influentials are responsible while others say its individuals.

    Ed Keller (CEO of Roper ASW and author of The Influentials) has oodles of research data identifying the integral role influentials play in determining how the rest of society acts. On the other hand, Dave Balter (CEO of BzzAgent) contends everyday people are the best drivers of WOM. (Click here to download a PDF of Dave's presentation.)

    Could it be that Influentials help remarkable products and services reach the proverbial chasm and then hand off the WOM baton to Individuals who carry the product/service across the chasm and deep into the mainstream?

    Greater the Promoters, Greater the Growth

    If you need analytical ammunition to better champion the allocation of funds to implement evangelism marketing tactics, share Frederick Reichheld’s Harvard Business Review article titled The One Number You Need to Know with your company’s left-brain naysayers.

    This article was mentioned throughout the conference and it’s a great read for any marketer interested in quantifying the sales impact of evangelical customers. Click here to read a vintage Brand Autopsy post on the article and for a link to purchase the article.

    Opening Kawasaki’s Kimono

    This was the first time I’d heard Guy Kawasaki speak and I was impressed. His lucidity, humor, and ability to connect with an audience went beyond being amazing to being inspiring.

    In his keynote speech, he basically merged his thinking from Art of the Start and Selling the Dream into Guy’s Top 10 Rules for Evangelism.

    #1: Make Meaning.
    Create products and services that are designed for the higher purpose of making a difference in the world.

    #2: Niche Thyself.
    Bring truly unique and great products to market. Avoid crap.

    #3: Don’t be Paranoid.
    Welcome and actively engage the early adopter freaks and outer fringe folks who embrace your product from the get-go.

    #4: Localize the Pain.
    Personalize the meaning of your products and services by succinctly and compelling explaining how it will improve one’s life.

    #5: Let 100 Flowers Blossom.
    Don’t force customers to use your products in a certain way. Encourage and facilitate customers to create new uses for your product.

    #6: Look for Agnostics, not Atheists.
    Forsake atheists who will never believe. Instead, spend marketing dollars on agnostics who are neutral and can become believers.

    #7: Enable Test Drives.
    Be generous and find ways to share your product so potential customers can experience it.

    #8: Provide a Slippery Slope.
    Make your products and services easy-to-use. Never create barriers for adoption/acceptance by customers.

    #9: Foster Team Spirit.
    Make customers feel part of the team. Enduring companies have a moral obligation to make customers a part of the ‘family.’

    #10: Don’t Ask Anyone to Do Something You Wouldn’t.
    Do unto your customers as you would have your customers do unto you.

    #11: Be a Mensch.
    If you are a true evangelist … you have a moral obligation to share, to care, to service, and to give abundantly with the expectation your actions will make the world a better place.

    Guy’s Bad Apple

    While Guy Kawasaki is still Apple to the core, he is tired of defending Apple, hypothesizing about Apple, and answering for Apple. This after being asked about his thoughts on why Apple is suing their evangelists for leaking information and why there are no Apple bloggers of note compared with the many notable Microsoft bloggers.

    Marketing Metaphor Melee

    PyromarketingJust when you thought there wasn’t another metaphor left to describe the way marketing happens, someone offers up a new marketing metaphor.

    The latest one comes from Greg Stielstra (Zondervan Publishing) and his concept of PyroMarketing. During a panel discussion, Greg walked us through how activating great marketing is like starting a great fire. First, one has to “gather the driest tinder.” Then one must “touch it with a match,” “fan the flames,” and “gather the coals.”


    But wait, his metaphor works pretty darn well. It works well enough that the book -- PyroMarketing -- will be published this year. You can download a version of the presentation he shared at WOMMA by clicking here (.pps) and be sure to download the presentation script (.pdf).

    Emanuel Rosen’s 10 Questions Marketers Should Ask

    Emanuel Rosen, Anatomy of Buzz author, shared with us in his keynote address how to design marketing campaigns to engage customers, spread stories, and drive results.

    He distilled his advice into Ten Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Activating Your Next Campaign.

    1. Does the product lend itself to WOM?
    Is the product remarkable?

    2. Are we reinforcing the concept and the message behind the product?
    Are we implementing stunts to grab fleeting attention? Or are we implementing meaningful and compelling activities that are captivating?

    3. Can we release information gradually?
    How often can we give customers new chapters to the story we are telling them?

    4. Are we giving our customers something to talk about?
    Are our tactics interesting to get customers interested?

    5. Do we give customers an opportunity to get involved?
    What can we do to allow customers the opportunity to co-create with us?

    6. Are we making it easy for customers to spread the word?
    What simple mechanisms are we giving customers to tell others about the product/service?

    7. Can we stimulate interaction among customers?
    Are we enabling customers to bond with each other? And are we fostering the spirit of community with our customers?

    8. Can we identify network hubs by category? By their activism?
    Have we properly identified our customers by their like-minded passions?

    9. Are we seeding the network?
    Have we located and appealed to the uber-mavens across multiple social network hubs?

    10. How is this campaign going to affect our reputation?
    Is this campaign a brand credit or a brand debit?

    David Polinchock Made Me Think

    In the 'Buzz: Earning It and Making It' breakout session, Dave Polinchock (Brand Experience Lab and Fast Company/Ad Age media darling) said a few comments that got me thinking.

    “We [consumers] don’t like to be captive.” -- Dave Polinchock
    Yeah … with splintered audiences as a result of media proliferation, no such thing as a captive audience exists anymore. But as marketers, we still seek to communicate messages to captive audiences. Instead of trying to hold audiences captive, we should strive to be captivating to audiences. Captivated – YES!!! Captive – NO! Dig?

    Tourists come home with souvenirs. Explorers come home with stories.” -- Dave Polinchock
    That’s something we would have said at Starbucks back in the day. In the late 90s we approached amplifying the Starbucks brand to appeal to consumers we termed as being Everyday Explorers. These are people who seek to be interesting and interested as well as crave experiences big or small. Commoditized goods/services fall into the tourist trap marketing mindset. Remarkable goods and services appeal the everyday explorer.

    Viralmentalist – the Coolest New Word in Marketing

    Viralmentalist. That’s the term South Carolina teens use to describe their anti-smoking activist community. It’s an offshoot from the Brains on Fire agency created Rage Against the Haze anti-smoking campaign. The term ‘viralmentalist’ didn’t come from an agency copywriter. It came from the kids. That’s even cooler.