When marketers talk about "word of mouth" how do we know whether the story being told is the one that was intended? How is the "word" being passed — is it online, viral, random, deliberate, seeded etc?

John Moore at Brand Autopsy points us to a study showing the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing. And while I see value in the data and the approach, I am more interested in the actual mechanisms, approaches and challenges faced in spreading the word. I guess this will be tackled at the WOMMA conference.

But, at the heart of word of mouth comes the concept or product. If you don’t have something worth talking about, no amount of effort is going to generate the buzz that you want. If you don’t have a customer engagement experience worth sharing with friends and colleagues, then your customers wont fall within the net of your efforts. BUT, if you do, make sure that you have ways to help them tell YOUR story in their own way. Give them some content, a free download, a link, a fun online game … or something more tangible, a gift, a coupon, an entry into a prize draw.

Too often we fall into the trap of designing a great product, developing an experience and then sitting back. Organic word of mouth is great, but find a way of allowing that word of mouth to spread from story to story. It needs to go cross-media, cross-channel. Then, of course, if you find a way of doing this, share your idea with me! I love a good story!

S.