12 May 2008

Diarrhea of the Word-of-Mouth

I seem to be suffering from diarrhea of the word-of-mouth lately:
A recent post: Smart or Sneaky?

Apparently, it's something I caught years ago: a Brand Autopsy thread from 2005.
And now Millward-Brown's Nigel Hollis, someone I've been blogging about way too much lately (What's The Word? and A Deep, Download-Worthy Report), posts this on his blog - and it started me slobbering again:
I'm Mulan. What advice can I offer you?
… Word of mouth was probably a much stronger influence when the people involved knew each other from the "real" world, not just from a Web page. When they knew, or at least could see, the friend, colleague or salesperson they were talking to, they did not have to guess at the veracity of the advice being offered ….
What if the ubiquitous nature of online search means that we are losing the inclination to ask other people for advice? After all, we can just look it up, right? Rather than gaining power, maybe WOM is actually losing it in the Internet era …
I approached it from another angle in my book, used different variables - but my (slightly tongue-in-cheek) assessment parallels what Mr. Hollis is suggesting:
When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, radio spot, print ad, direct marketing collateral, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.
Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.
I'm getting sick of talking about this subject. I need to chug down a few heaping tablespoons of Word-of-Mouth Imodium.


  1. You better get some more of that stuff. WOMM was an important subject on the 4th annual Marketing to Women Conference (http://www.m2w.biz/). Presenting figures that 50% of the women in USA are influenced by blogs when they buy products (I seriously doubt that figure). Dutch marketers are blogging about it so I will have to start distrusting my sources of information as well now.



  2. I'm likewise skeptical of this figure. Fifty percent of people don't even know what blogs are - and if they do, they have only some vague notion of them.

    And slowly but surely, the ones who do know and read blogs will soon realize that many are phony, many of the bloggers are being paid or are influenced by advertisers - and readers will stop paying attention. Blogs will become white noise in the marketing/advertising world.

    Toss up a banner ad - fine. Pay off the blogger directly for shilling within content - I think not.

    Another subject - but an interesting one:



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