The buzz on buzz: Two experts spread the word on this fast-growing sector

Ed Keller CEO, Keller Fay Group

Why is WOM market­ing more measurable now?
A growing number of marketers want reliable WOM information, and therefore there are research firms who have developed approaches that help them plan strategies and tactics. Some of the tools are focused on measuring WOM on the Internet, so technology advances have enabled this activ­ity. At the same time, our research shows that more than 90% of WOM takes place offline, so we believe an integrated approach is required.

What are some mistakes marketers make when launching a WOM campaign?
They focus on one time, short-term “buzz,” rather than longer-term, sustainable word of mouth. They worry about the potential for negative word of mouth, and therefore get scared to truly embrace it. And they try to “script” consumers rather than letting them express themselves honestly and authenti­cally. If you’re going to engage in WOM, let the consumer’s voice be heard.

Laura Shuler, president and chief strategy officer, Jack Morton Worldwide

Why is a WOM campaign a smart choice for marketers?
Every CEO is thinking in terms of “how can I reign in spending?” and “how can I drive results quickly?” So it’s important for CMOs and marketers to think about cost efficiencies and marketing impact. WOM marketing is a very efficient medium that motivates people to act. Also, personal recommendations play to consumers’ hunger for authenticity.

What should marketers keep in mind in terms of WOM measurement?
Measure early and often. Have some key perceptual and other brand measures as context before the campaign is initiated, and then track those through the short and long term. Also, get insights into the customer base before and after, so you can track qualitative impact.

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