Whenever I describe the power of word of mouth marketing for clients, I’m careful to avoid putting the term "buzz" in the same sentence. While creating a buzz is important and is certainly a component of word of mouth marketing, it also hints of transcience. What constitutes buzz today can often be gone tomorrow. Movie marketers focus on buzz … in fact, many rely on it. But this buzz is usually gone within a week or two and completely dies as a movie leaves theaters. For Hollywood marketers, maybe that’s ok – but not for the bulk of our clients.
Word of mouth marketing strikes me as a far broader term which applies to many more of our client situations. Sam Decker’s recent post on a conceptual model for word of mouth marketing highlights the permanence of WOM as its main advantage over advertising. As time progresses, capital investment dramatically decreases, as long as word of mouth marketing continues. Yet, creating this sustained postive flow of WOM is challenging. There is no denying that WOM is easier when a product or idea is new. But as Decker notes, the most successful examples of growth through WOM (such as craigslist) continue to be ongoing beneficiaries of word of mouth marketing – not one time recipients of buzz. I love BuzzAgent and the direction pushes the entire mainstream world of marketing towards … but for word of mouth marketing to make a lasting difference, building a buzz is only the first step.