Catching The WOM Bug: Going Viral Via Consumer Evangelism

"Happy customers are the best advertisements." So says Andy Sernovitz, CEO of GasPedal, and it is this principle that defines the explosive success of word of mouth (WOM)--that is, the concept of passing on information verbally, especially via recommendations of a brand, product or service. This form of marketing communications has always existed, but its recent proliferation can be attributed to a handful of factors: the communications landscape has shifted from B2B and B2C to C2C (consumer-to-consumer); intangible values are increasingly important as trust becomes the basis of corporate reputation; and executives must now earn the trust of consumers to lead successful businesses. Statistics back up this phenomenon: According to the GolinHarris 2007 Trusted-Media Index, consumers prefer hands-on, direct experiences with products and services, and WOM directly follows suit. This means one thing for communications professionals: "WOM should be a line item in media and PR planning," says Idil Cakim, Golin Harris' VP of interactive media.

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