Word-of-Mouth Is Not Marketing

Why am I dropping Hauser’s name again? Well, because the guy just posted a great salvo to the EMF board this morning. This is what he wrote:

THERE IS NO SUCH OF THING AS WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING. WORD OF MOUTH IS NOT A FORM OF MARKETING.

Now, I bet all the folks at WOMMA are going to crap their designer jeans when this gets back to them. And all those editorial writers and journalists are going to have to do some head-scratching when they find that "word-of-mouth" and "buzz" and "viral" are not really adequate topics in marketing.

Of course, the ability to transfer commercial messages from person to person is a key component of marketing, but it is not a marketing practice in itself. It is a product of marketing. It is the aim of marketing. But it is not marketing per se.

Why? Because all good WOM is authentically organic. It cannot be controlled. What can be controlled in marketing are two big things: the product and the message. If the product (service) is good, people will talk about it. If the message is good, they will talk about it too. Think Jeep, Apple, Ritz-Carleton, Puma, Axe and Burger King.

Marketing has devolved into a top-down, control-and-command modus operandi. Brand managers hold on to their briefs like a drowning man clutches a piece of driftwood. Internal documents at major corporations devote hundreds of pages to font sizes, pantones and other arcana to make sure that all company communication — from the logo to the name tag — is contained, controlled and conformed to.

This must change, and the rise in interest for WOM may be a catalyst for it. With all the ink devoted to its popularity, and marketers’ obsession with harnessing it and riding the wave, WOM and buzz may prove to be the thing that lets us let go.

When that happens — when marketers embrace the new networked world and learn to trust their customers again — that will be the dawn of a new way for marketing to thrive again.

There is a great discussion on Soflow about this going on right now. Check it out here!

One comment

  1. Actually, we usually wear Dockers.

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