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Leverage the Voice of the Consumer

by Evan Gerber  |  
February 17, 2009

Let's face it—consumers really don't trust advertisers like they used to. In an era when savvy consumers are bombarded with more than 3,000 marketing messages a day, traditional marketing channels become increasingly less effective.

And as new technologies amplify the voice of the consumer, and one-to-one conversations blossom into many dialogues, the allure of a word-of-mouth, or WOM, campaign becomes increasingly compelling.

WOM is the practice of engaging influential users in a given community, creating a positive brand experience for them, and letting them propagate an authentic and unique brand message to their friends.

For example, when Brown-Foreman sought to reinforce the popularity of its Chambord Liqueur, it reached out to influencers such as bartenders through an aggressive, entertaining educational program. These people then went on to build awareness among their audiences.

WOM campaigns can be relatively low-cost, and when successful they can create a memorable and lasting approach to brand marketing.

One problem with a program as unstructured as a typical WOM engagement, however, is that it can be very difficult to measure results. Yet, in the current economic environment, with marketing budgets tightening, it is more important than ever for marketers to be able to show the ROI associated with projects.

It's not impossible to measure a WOM campaign—the process just requires some creative thought and tailoring to a specific campaign. Here are some ways to capture results.

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Evan Gerber is the principal experience design consultant at Molecular(, a member of the Isobar network of agencies (

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  • by Warren Tue Feb 17, 2009 via web

    Measuring word-of-mouth (WOM) results is not really that hard. It only becomes difficult if you try to use quantitative methods to measure results. That's because WOM is a "qualitative" technique. Putting numbers on WOM is like using an apple to check the color of an orange.

    To [qualitatively] measure the results of WOM marketing, just ask and answer the following questions:

    1. Do prospective customers know what business you are in and when to call?

    2. Does the press accurately reflect your competitive positioning and lend 3rd party credibility to it?

    3. Do industry influencers understand your product strategy and support it to the press?

    4. Does the target market see you as a reference source expert/counselor in solving business problems?

    5. Do your business partners support your products?

    6. Do your resellers (or other channel partners) know where to spend their time, who to call on, and what to say?

    7. Are key accounts actively involved in testimonial marketing and serving as references?

    We've been successfully using this 7-point checklist to evaluate WOM programs for many years in our consulting work (see It's really not that hard. Really!

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