But since I’m no longer either, I’ll stick with the traditional. "Why I love WOMMA."
Well, first, for those not in the know, WOMMA is the acronym for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. WOMMA is the trade association for word of mouth (WOM) marketers and currently has around 100 member companies. About half of the members are brands such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Dell, and Quicken Loans. The other half are agencies that provide WOM services. For the full list check out the WOMMA member page.
I don’t want to get into numbers and studies, but trust me when I say that word of mouth has experienced explosive growth in the past few years (partly due to technology – but not completely) and the industry had a record year in 2007. In other words, companies spent a gazillion dollars on WOM and show no signs of backing off.
As the official trade association for word of mouth, WOMMA serves several purposes, one of which is to set standards, rules and policies for member organizations to ensure WOM campaigns are done correctly – check that – done with honesty and disclosure. Trust me when I say this, those that have tried to pull the wool over the eyes of their customers usually have the wool stuffed right down their throats. And they pay a lot of money to choke on their stupidity.
WOMMA also lobbies with government agencies that are now in the process of setting disclosure policies that will hold WOM campaigns to the same standards that other marketing is held to. For example, the FTC doesn’t like it when a company blatantly puts out false advertising. That’s a no-no. It won’t be long before brands and agencies will have to disclose WOM campaigns in the same fashion. WOMMA is working to make sure gov. polices aren’t prohibitive and that WOMMA members are fully aware of what’s coming down the regulatory pipeline.
I’m all for disclosure and I’m convinced that if brands and agencies all played by the rules, the government wouldn’t have to get involved in the first place.
Let’s look at Quicken Loans for an example. Let’s suppose we want to create a video series of some of our evangelists telling their stories about their great experiences with Quicken Loans. We all know video testimonials, if done well, are powerful tools that can turn evangelists into influencers. Now, let’s suppose we send a list of evangelists a video camera and tell them they can keep the camera if they video tape themselves talking about why they love Quicken Loans. Should we admit we gave them the video camera? Of course! Not doing so would immediately raise eyebrows. "Gee, what a coincidence that 15 families just happened to videotape themselves telling the world how much they appreciated the mortgage experience they had with Quicken Loans."
Yeah, right. One WOM campaign and lots of money down the drain.
What if we take it a bit further. Video cameras come in a huge range of prices and types. Some can cost as little as 50 bucks, and go up to the thousands. Let’s suppose the cameras we sent out were very nice ones and cost almost thousand dollars each. Obviously, anyone who received a thousand dollar camera vs. a fifty dollar camera will have a different opinion about the gesture. Should we disclose the value of the camera? I think so and I think most WOMMA members would agree with me.
That’s true disclosure and when you put out the truth up front, you gain credibility and avoid pie in your face and wasted marketing dollars.
But I digress. WOMMA is what this post is about and I truly believe that WOMMA is making a huge difference by bringing the top minds in WOM together to share ideas, best practices and learning. I’ve been to two WOMMA events and both gave me walk-aways that helped our projects at Quicken Loans. I’m convinced that Quicken Loans wouldn’t have been in on the beta for the Yahoo Answers Knowledge Partner program if not for a connection I made at WOMMA’s Basic Training last year.
Next month WOMMA is holding its inaugural WOMMU event in Miami and I’m extremely excited to be on the "faculty." But what I’m really looking forward to is learning. Learning from the amazing group of folks that attend WOMMA conferences.
I’m the first to admit that I have much more to learn than I know and I can’t think of a better place to get ideas than from the folks who are doing this stuff, and doing it well on the front lines of business. Folks like my friends over at MS&L Digital who (as far as I know) were among the first to do blogger outreaches, or Brains on Fire, or PEMCO Insurance, or Dell, or Gaspedal, or Yahoo!, or Converseon, or Fizz. The list is endless.
So, if you want to learn from the best, I suggest you consider attending WOMMU. I’m 100% sure it will be worth it. For more information and the full schedule, check out the WOMMU site.
See you there!