What Is WOM and Why Do I Need Some?


New Rules of Marketing (image)I picked up a book last week, The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott. It set my hair on fire! I’’ll get on that topic another time, (not the hair, the book) but right now I want to comment on something that kept coming to mind while I was reading. That is, how people use the terms “word of mouth marketing”, “referral marketing”, and “networking” when talking about obtaining leads. I’’ll add another that I like better, “relationship marketing”. (That may be redundant, because marketing is about creating and maintaining relationships.)

But while reading the book, the term that kept coming to mind was “word of mouth”. The reason is, most of the business people I talk with seek the holy grail: referrals.

And so they “network”. They ask for referrals. They rely on “word of mouth”.

And this is where we are falling short.

Most of our word of mouth comes from our own mouths. There has been a lot written and said about developing referrals through building networks and developing relationships. Heck, that’’s my specialty and I’’ve learned from some of the best in the business, as well as through the school of hard knocks. But the old referral guru, Dr. Ivan Misner, said it a long time ago: word of mouth marketing. (He even created a marketing plan called the WOMBAT Plan.) But it was lost on me, like I suspect it is lost on most sales and business people. I got caught up in the tactics, the getting referrals.

Networking and building referral relationships are only one of the aspects of marketing by building word of mouth. Check out Dr. Misner’’s World’’s Best Known Marketing Secret and David Meerman Scott’’s books and learn about creating WOM. Dr. Misner’’s focuses on the fundamentals of good, old fashioned, hit the streets WOM; and Scott’’s is a high tech, changing everyday, got to keep up, cutting edge version. Both approaches valid; one a part of the other. The basic elements are the same: market, motivation, message. They just offer different media.