My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2008

WOM + Campaigns = fail and why measurement is killing true WOM marketing!

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DISCLAIMER: Just because it is Lindy Dreyer Week here at does not mean she agrees with any of my opinions…in fact I am not sure I make a point in this post and if she had written it there would be better grammar. What I am trying to say is that I am a good kisser and I don’t mind if you pass that on. I love Root Beer and Cream Soda and my favourite sandwich is Grilled Cheese but this isn’t about that, it is about Lindy Dreyer and while this is something I have been thinking about for a while this post was inspired by a conversation with her. Sure they are all my own ideas and opinions so please don’t hold her responsible for my views 🙂



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Right there is the genesis of how ideas have spread throughout history.

A few posts ago I wrote about how at a recent WOM conference there was the plenty of chatter around the idea of a Word Of Mouth Campaign and how you can use it to artificially (my word, not there’s) amplify the desire to chat about your product or service. I think I have made it very clear that I am firmly in the camp of WOM needs to be a 365 day a year project (and yes, in 2012 it will be a 366 day a year project….that is the first time I have recycled a joke on this blog but I am doing it to be more green….wow, I just did it again) that is more of a lifestyle then a time limited amplified campaign. I have stated that fact a few times but have never explained why…so here goes.

A while back I was asked to participate in a WOM campaign (run by a super HUGE WOM agency) to launch a new product. The company (and I am not naming any names here) asked me to email them or log into a web site and report every time I used the product, showed anyone, spoke about the product, blogged about the product and they asked that I provide them with the email addresses of all the people I spoke to so they can contact them and see how many times they spoke about my original conversation.

At first glance I thought this wasn’t a big deal cause I actually liked the product and I would be doing all these things anyway (remember that fact…cause it is important later) well except the reporting part, so the first few days passed and I did all the reporting I was required to do and by day three I stopped talking/showing/blogging about the product because the idea of keeping track of all my conversations seemed too much like homework and the concept of Word Of Mouth became WORK of Mouth (another term I think I have created so please credit me and for most people, homework is not something you get excited for and do out of love.

WOM to me is all about love and should always the “prettiest girl or guy in the room”.

Real WOM should be something that is natural and beautiful and trying to measure it down to the decimal point is like trying to grow flowers in a desert. I imagine it is possible and you could do it for a while but can you sustain it and why would you want to?

This seems like as good a place as any to explain that I do think you need to measure your efforts (notice I didn’t say campaign) because there are 1000+ ways to reach people and get them talking and you need to know what aspects of your efforts are connecting with people so you can do more of what is working and less of what isn’t but to ask your users/fans/customers to do anything more than “be happy and let people know” is a great way to turn them off.


If your product/service is great and you treat people well the message will spread…and you will know it because you will see more blog posts, Tweets, increased sales, brand awareness, and visits to your site.

People love to talk and with tools like social media more and more people are becoming “influencers”, so give these people what they need to “influence”…and what that is for most people is a great product and an interesting talking point. What you should never give them is a business card with a toll free number and say “call me right after you tell someone about this product” because that is, and I know I am sort of repeating myself, like giving people homework.

So what is my Smartest Man in the World solution to all of this?

I would love to see WOM agencies/companies like Buzz Agent and others who currently offering to run campaigns for big business to morph into a teaching role and start getting companies to understand that THEY [the company looking for the BUZZ] need to change their thinking on WOM and how they can implement WOM departments inside their own marketing departments because no one is going to watch closer and respond quicker to an opportunity then your own employees.

A great example of this is from Andy Sernovitz and his company Gaspedal. They are doing exactly what I am suggesting, ( BTW if you use the code “welovefreshbooks” you will get a $250 discount when you register)

  1. Great post Saul!

    Here is the absolute hard-core science explaining why you can never successfully measure a WoM ‘campaign’ – it’s called the Observer Effect ( It affects humans as much as it does sub-atomic particles – neither likes other people trying to always figure out what they are doing and where they are going!

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