The Word of Mouth Manual
Dave Balter of BzzAgent published a must-read book about Word of Mouth Marketing earlier this week that is definitely worth your time. You can either pick your up your very own copy at Amazon for $45, or you can grab the free e-book version right here. While it may seem like a no-brainer, the purchased version does at least include a limited edition original piece of artwork by Seth B. Minkin.
I read Balter's Word of Mouth Manual Volume II last night - it's a quick read at just 119 pages - and it's chock-full of helpful case studies and ideas about how brand and marketers can be a part of their customers' conversations without doing what they usually do: absolutely destroy any meaningful dialogue. Even the strategy for promoting the book itself is a strong case study on how to work with bloggers in marketing a book. Balter worked with 20 top bloggers to distrubte the e-book for free and get folks talking about the book and his ideas.
Perhaps the most important idea in the book is Balter's argument for brands to learn how to appropriately participate in conversations with customers and strengthen their word of mouth appeal. He says that this engagement is critical to what's next in advertising and marketing:
"...the emerging word of mouth phenomenon produces incredibly rich and authentic conversations. Conversations that matter to others, that help make them decisions about what is really worth buying. It may be more accelerated than the word of mouth of old, but it's still full of the authenticity that makes it so powerful."
Additionally, Balter encourages marketers to focus on slowly and consistently developing relationships with customers, and eschewing the naive efforts of trying to make everything "go viral." Instead, the sustainable word of mouth strategy is built upon a foundation that is both measured and holistic.
"It's a process and it needs to be embedded in everything you do, so that it can enable the telling of your story in multiple ways."
Overall, Balter makes a good case for investing in a word of mouth strategy. And while I think he could have gone into greater details on some of the key ideas, the Word of Mouth Manual Volume II is well worth your time.
Just take my word for it.
PS - And as an added bonus, don't miss Gary Vaynerchuck's latest video on why brands need to embrace word of mouth marketing.