Don't make WOM become SPAM!

Pete Blackshaw writes at Clickz that people probably should Temper their enthusiasm when it comes to Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm nervous about word-of-mouth marketing's future. It's hard to put my finger on, but it's the same feeling I had when marketers went hog-wild over targeted e-mail's potential.
The other day, I presented to an ad agency. I explained, using hard, unmistakable numbers, how consumer-generated media (my term for word-of-mouth) was eroding the client's brand. One hyper-impatient attendee interrupted and stammered: "That's great, but how do we create buzz? That's really all we care about! Can't we just hire folks to seed messages on Web forums or blogs?"

I resisted the temptation to give him a piece of my own "word-of-mouth," but this much is clear: word-of-mouth marketing has zero potential for long-term, sustainable success until we evaluate it through a more restrained, even self-critical, lens. It's not as easy as we think, and it can't just be bought off the shelf. More important, there's a host of critical questions we must answer before we lead our clients down this path.

Amen to that. We need less of the Mandy-marketeers in this world posting robotic phrases like "I just read about Ashlee in us weekly. Those guys at the football game were total jerks." in hopes of force-starting some buzz just like they did with Xtina's first album, before everything marketing related is equated to spam. When uncreative ad creep creeps to far into our daily life the whole industry suffers. When moronic marketers spam boards they ruin it for all of us.
After watching email marketing become what SPAM is today, I wonder, is it really a good idea to have the WOM people write their own ethical guidelines? Especially after the hubub when the WOMMA ethics draft was attached for allowing teen buzzagents by consumer advocate groups, and other word of mouth marketers who tried to comment on the guidelines but had their suggestions deleted, or never published as they never appeared under the draft.

Shouldn't the consumers be the ones to draw the line in the sand? After all, it's the consumers message boards, and eventually their voices that are being used as the free media to spread the buzz on.

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