I’ve always liked ‘word of mouth’ as a description. (I once hoped to register wordofmouth.co.uk for my freelance business only to find that this domain name had already been snapped up.)
Others are suspicous of the phrase, fearing a loss of message control and doubting whether it can ever be practised ethically when used for marketing purposes.
So we have something powerful, rather ill-defined and in need of best practice guidelines. Sounds a bit like public relations… What we need is an industry association to show leadership. So I’m behind the new Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOM UK) which is being launched today at the Marketing Week word of mouth conference. It follows on from the well-established Word of Mouth Marketing Association in the US.
The ubiquitous Stuart Bruce is involved, which bodes well. My only quibble: that this shouldn’t just be about marketing. Its remit should also cover conversations, participation and democracry – the whole of the public sphere (the space in which public relations operates). I find the thought of a marketing sphere depressing, and not just because I’m reading JG Ballard’s bleak new novel, Kingdom Come.