Monday, September 25, 2006

WOM gone awry?

The Boston Globe questions the future direction of marketing, and specifically promotion, in light of popular deceptions like lonelygirl15: "Whether or not lonelygirl15 is art, it certainly owes its popularity to its willingness to blur the line between fact and fiction. It's a strategy that, online and off, has been popping up increasingly, not only in underground publicity stunts but formal advertising campaigns." The article goes on to talk about word-of-mouth marketing and whether or not honesty trumps trickery for advertisers who are frustrated with traditional channels and seek some novel way to captivate their target audiences.

This issue is an important one for anyone engaged in marketing, including librarians. For reasons I will talk about this week on LM, word-of-mouth (WOM) has great potential for promoting library services. But, it needs to be done right. There's a difference between creating a little bit of mystery to engage people in marketing tactics, and outright lying to people. Contrary to what popular opinion may be, good WOM is honest. Good WOMers acknowledge their relationship to companies and don't misrepresent their products. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has even developed a code of ethics that spells out appropriate WOM protocol. Ethical WOM marketing is important if consumers are expected to trust marketers and pay attention to what they have to say. Too much deception could further exacerbate the problem of getting people to tune in to marketing messages and damage brands in the long-term.

This week, I'll discuss why the good kind of WOM could be a great approach for librarians and one that merits more study and practice.

Categories: must_reads | train_yourself

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