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May 12th, 2011

Voce @ WOMMA School of WOM – An Overview and Takeaways

Over the last three days I had the pleasure of attending the School of WOM put on by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association here in Chicago. Over the course of those days, from Monday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, a series of speakers shared with attendees various perspectives, insights and information on sparking conversations among casual buyers, serious advocates and “influencers,” though no one could quite adequately define what that’s supposed to mean.

There were plenty of interesting takeaways from the sessions I attended and I’ll get to those soon, but whether they were stated outright or lurking in the background there were two big ideas that were kind of unavoidable when you get right down to it:

  1. If you want to create word of mouth you have to be interesting: We can talk tactics all day and design some killer programs that look really good when presented in PowerPoint format. But if the company itself isn’t interesting, if their products aren’t useful or if there’s nothing that differentiates the company from its competitors there’s not a whole lot for people to talk about. Everyone’s going to have their own opinions (for the most part) on what constitutes good customer service and what’s considered a reasonable price so if you’re just competing on those two points you’ll forever be subject to the whims of the individual. But if there’s something over and above that, some experience that leaves a customer with the feeling that they just have to share it with their friends – be it online or off – that’s extraordinary.
  2. If you want to create word of mouth you have to measure it: This gets a little tougher. Of course everyone over the course of the event was talking about how to measure what people are talking about online, but that’s only half – or less – of the story. While there are certainly difficulties in measuring what’s happening offline in the same way you can online (assuming you’re not running some vaguely shady pay-per-buzz program) there are still ways. And even beyond direct measurement word of mouth pays off when you see more people walk in the front door, either literally or figuratively. A lot of companies with great reputations (an outcome of positive word of mouth) may not track direct WOM conversations or conversions but they know they’re happening because they continue to see an influx of customers.

More direct insights from the presenters at the School of WOM will be shared tomorrow and some points that were made that I feel like need to be refuted (or at least challenged) will also inspire more posts down the road a bit.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

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Add Your Comment1 Response to “Voce @ WOMMA School of WOM – An Overview and Takeaways”

Pat McCarthy on May 12th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Viva Voce!

Thanks for blogging about School of WOM. These two points are huge:

  1. Be Interesting
  2. Measure like your life depends on it.

Glad you enjoyed the conference! Please let me know about any other blog posts about it. We’re making a list.

Cheers, Pat McCarthy – WOMMA’s Social Guy