You know that old joke: the motivational speaker leads an audience in call-and-response, shouting, "Repeat after me, 'I am an individual!'" and the crowd dutifully chants back as one, "I am an individual!"?
Word-of-mouth-marketing reminds me of that ironic joke. I have an image of WOM marketers huddled around the conference table, engineering "spontaneous" consumer-driven marketing and scripting "authentic" communication.
So I found it curious when Godin used BzzAgent to promote Small Is The New Big. When I asked Seth about this choice during Q&A at his Shop.org talk, his reponse was along the lines of "sometimes you have to pay." Godin offers a different response recounting this exchange in his recent blog post (I think) praising pyramid schemes, where he (I think) compares paying for word-of-mouth to prostitution.
I enjoyed a long lunch last week with Todd Tweedy of WordSpreadsQuickly and BoldMouth. Todd described how the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMA) is still in a bit of a spin due to Edelman's involvement in the fake WalMartingAcrossAmerica blog.
I have two questions. One: can Word Of Mouth Marketing be done well and done honestly? And two: will marketers destroy the WOM concept by flooding the space with paid shills (just as spammers have nearly destroyed email)?