Word of Mouth and {out of} Context Builds Brands: WOMMA DAY 1

by Marianne Richmond on June 22, 2006

When I arrived at the opening session at WOMMA on Tuesday morning, I sat down at table with some very interesting people who were in the middle of a very interesting conversation on the number of online interactions necessary before a consumer remembers your brand. Clark Stephen, from American Express Online Acquisitions,  Scott and Nicole from Concentric, and Joel Nathanson, AVP/Project Manager Customer Experience, from Wells Fargo. The decision regarding the number was that it depends;  size and longevity are important factors.

I asked Joel about the Wells Fargo Blog and he said that he was on the internal blog team but that the person responsible for the blog, Ed Terpening was attending the conference and that he would introduce me at a break.He did and I will be writing more about this later.

The morning sessions consisted of a call to action by Andy Sernovitz, WOMMA CEO. Andy noted that there were 400 attendees from all over the world here in San Francisco for the conference. He also pointed out that WOMMA now had 300 members and that 300th member was TiVO. TiVO was the topic of many conversations at the conference, both within the program and outside the program. Word of mouth has certainly played a role with Sam Richmond and TiVO . We don’t have one yet, but Sam remains hopeful; persistence IS a core family value.

Presentations by Paul Rand, Gary Stein, Gary Spangler, Ed Keller, and Ann Green followed. Check out the conference blog for full details (full disclosure: along with fabulous bloggers, Jennifer Nastu and Olivier Blanchard, I was at the conference as a live blogger; and how fun was that!). Then before an engaging  lunch workshop with Jackie Huba, ten participants presented 43 Word of Mouth Ideas You Can Implement Tomorrow. Since tomorrow is today, I hope that some people grabbed some of those great ideas and are implementing them right now.

I would like to mention two points that I believe made Gary Stein of Ammo Marketing presentation very effective: visual reinforced with a personal story and the use of “out of context“. He started out his presentation on the Ten Commandments of Word of Mouth Marketing with a picture of his newborn son; he then connected the birth of his son to illustrate his point about word of mouth and customer loyalty and Costco. The picture of the baby was out of context with Costco; but the baby got our attention and made the points memorable.

Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users writes about the “Guy from the Train Phenomenon.” We remember things that are used to make a point if they are out of context. Gary told the story of how friends brought  food when they came to see the new baby; the gifts were mostly purchased at Costco. This was talked about with equal intensity as the new baby demonstrating not only the effectiveness of Costco word of mouth (they do not advertise) but also word of mouth in action.  The new baby was out of context in a presentation about word of mouth marketing.  Visual and emotional connection along with a personal story is such an effective way to enhance memorability; combine it with a pleasant out of context surprise and you have a point that will be remembered: word of mouth builds brands.

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