Lip Service

Word-of-mouth marketing builds buzz on the cheap

WOMMA members 
Gabfest: WOMMA members share marketing tips.
In retrospect, it was pure heresy. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association had designed a printed brochure to advertise an upcoming conference. The response? “Next to nothing,” says Shannon Stairhime, editorial and content manager for WOMMA. “And it required a significant amount of staff time to put together.”

So much for WOMMA’s experiments with traditional marketing methods, which Stairhime says are more expensive, more time-consuming and less effective than word-of-mouth solutions. Yes, WOMMA’s attendees are predisposed to online chatter, but Stairhime says the techniques are simple enough for any organization to try. Here are WOMMA’s tips.

Content is king. Provide valuable content, and people will talk. WOMMA produces a content-rich digital newsletter and uses that as a forum to advertise events. Stairhime says marketing shouldn’t be viewed as a campaign, but rather as part of a long-term relationship with attendees.

Help them talk. Amplify word-of-mouth by setting up user forums; making logos, videos, photos and text easy to grab and post; and developing tools (social media groups, e-mail postcards) to make telling a friend easy. 

Ask for help. Encourage attendees to spread the word. WOMMA doesn’t even provide incentives: “The idea is that they should want to,” Stairhime says. Ask speakers to promote their sessions to their own contacts.

Recruit influencers. Brief key industry bloggers about the event in advance, and encourage them to blog at the conference. Offer discounted or free registration for them, if necessary.