Progress & Change - Q4 Update

Note: Last Monday, Halloween night, I flew to Chicago in order to participate in interviews on behalf of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association that would take place the next day.. While in route I thought about the progress of the past year and the accomplishments that I've witnessed as a board member for the past three. I wrote this during, and immediately after, the flight.

Prevailing Winds Increase Pace and Mark Change

The Alaska Airlines pilot said we were traveling at 34,000 feet above sea level at a speed of approximately 500 miles per hour. And, he says, we will arrive at our destination ahead of schedule due to the outstanding tailwind at our back. He was, of course, talking about flight 22 from Seattle to Chicago. He could just as easily have been describing WOMMA and the year that I've experienced as Board President. In both cases, we are in a remarkable place that is soaring to new heights and moving over the landscape at greater speeds. For my fellow passengers in the plane and I, there is little time to look back to appreciate all the ground we've covered. Nor is there time to focus on the places that we may have missed as they fade from view. The same is true for WOMMA.

Rod WOMMA Podium Med

It seems nearly impossible that almost twelve months ago I addressed attendees of the 2010 WOMMA Talkable Brands Summit and shared my vision for the coming year. I encouraged everyone present to focus on what they could learn, what they could teach, and what they could do in order to make themselves, their brands, and their clients more effective as word of mouth marketers - both online and offline.

I talked of a stronger WOMMA - one with a greater presence serving a bigger and broader community. I shared our collective vision for an association that could collaborate effectively and influence the emerging regulation of social media tools and user behaviors in what has come to be recognized as the new frontier of opportunity and engagement. I reminded attendees of the critical importance of WOMMA's long-standing leadership commitment to the highest standards of ethical behavior and the commitment and courage of our membership to lead by example in areas of disclosure and privacy protection. And I looked into the future, to describe a WOMMA that would take our message into smaller regional events in order to expand our reach and better enable access to our message.

Kristen Smith Small

We remain a young association that is gaining in confidence and spirit. More importantly, our measures of success are going the right direction. I am incredibly proud of Executive Director, Kristen Smith and her enthusiastic, "can do" staff. Kristen, has successfully led the transition from an association with grand aspirations to one of noteworthy accomplishments and results. 

As we approach the 2011 WOMMA Summit that will be held in Las Vegas, from November 16-18, Kristen will be completing her third full year at the helm. She has served under the guidance of three Board Presidents, 30 different board members, 10 committee chairs, and has interacted with members and potential members in numbers too numerous to count. And through it all, Kristen's focus, determination, and consistency have not wavered. Key accomplishments over the past three years include the following:

Membership has grown to 350 member companies and is at a healthy balance between brands (33%), agencies (37%), and consultants, researchers and technology providers (30%).

WOMMA has developed successful partnerships with key industry groups including the Marketing Research Association, Media Ratings Council, Advertising Research Foundation and the Association of National Advertisers, positioning WOMMA as a key leader and stakeholder in the effective measurement or Word of Mouth Marketing.

WOMMA has expanded its research offerings and special reports available to members to include: A Guidebook of Best Practices for the Customer Care Center; Online and Offline WOM Bibliography Curation; Listening and Monitoring Platforms Guidebook; and the Return On Investment Guidebook. We look to continue the outstanding work of our Research and Measurement volunteers and member experts in 2012 as well.

We have increased the number of WOMMA events and points of engagement resulting in new and expanded opportunities to reach current and potential members.
  • WOMMA Summit - 2011 attendance expected to exceed 500
  • School of WOMM - Over 300 attendees
  • Wine Wednesday's Networking Events - 7 locations - More than 450 attendees
  • Regional Talkable Brand Exchanges - 3 locations - Over 200 attendees
  • WOM COMM Graduates - Over 500
  • WOMMA Webinar Attendees - Over 500
WOMMA has become a consistent provider of timely and reliable information and is increasingly considered one of the top "go to sources" for press inquiries and speaking opportunities.

And, I am happy to report that the financial strength of our association continues to mature and strengthen year over year. WOMMA's financial reserves have made significant progress and we are expecting to meet or exceed budgeted contribution levels for the second consecutive year.

As WOMMA rolls into Las Vegas this month we will mark another milestone in the development of our association. Our board will meet and included on our agenda will be the selection of a new President. Not only for our board (where the title will change to Chairman), but as a replacement for our Executive Director. It's time for our association to be led on a daily basis by a President. The title change is in concert with our strategic plan and will enrich our leadership with a veteran marketer at the helm. This too has been part of Kristen's plan.
Last summer, expecting her family's fourth child and experiencing the resignation of their long term nanny, Kristen called me to share her plans to resign from her position as Executive Director. That disappointing news began a process that lasted thru the summer and into the fall that has culminated in the best situation possible. In addition to our new President, Kristen will continue her leadership within WOMMA in a part-time Chief Operations Officer role. I'm delighted with the outcome and our ability to maintain the continuity and effectiveness of Kristen's contributions. She simply makes us a better, more effective, WOMMA.

David Witt Small

Flight 22 from Seattle to Chicago has landed. WOMMA, on the other hand, is still ascending and flying high. A search committee of WOMMA board members and I arrived in Chicago to interview finalists for the role of Association President. By the time we convene for this years summit at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Hotel it will be my privilege to introduce you to the candidate we select.

As Board Chairman-elect, David Witt, comes to the stage to share his vision for the coming year, we might just feel a breeze moving through the auditorium. After all, as the pilot said, we are making great progress... there's a powerful wind at our back.

See you in Las Vegas!





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