Knowing What You Don't Know

WOMMA headquarters contacted me this week to let me know that Leslie Patton, a reporter from Bloomberg, was interested in talking to the WOMMA President and some brand members about the fundamentals of Word of Mouth Marketing. It would be a general piece that highlights the basics and might probe for some specifics about off line engagements. Things like the growth of house parties and events. Seemed like a great conversation to have and one that I would be comfortable having. No worries. We made the appointment and with a WOMMA staff members help, had a plan for what I would talk to the reporter about. The next day, the phone rang at the appointed time.

After the introductions and the pleasantries were exchanged Leslie and I began talking about word of mouth marketing and the importance of a well considered and blended online and offline approach. Key points that I shared were:

  1. Despite the unparalleled growth of community in online digital social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, current research supports the notion that more than 90% of brand related conversations and recommendations take place in face to face environments.
  2. It has also become increasingly clear to brands that the voices of their customers, their brand loyalists and advocates, are far more influential to the success of their product sales than anything the corporate marketing, communication, or executive departments can say themselves.
Then the conversation shifted. Questions were about marketing house parties and the successful use of experiential marketing by national brands. Leslie had already spoken with industry leader and WOMMA member, House Party, and was hoping to get a perspective as to how affordable and worthwhile a face-to-face strategy of this type might actually be. "After all, isn't it just another form of multi-level marketing?" she asked.

That's when having the confidence to "know what you don't know" becomes an important edge. I haven't worked for a national brand in over a decade and I'm not an expert on experiential marketing. I'm not the best one to represent WOMMA on either topic. I shared my personal observations about trends in the marketplace, and offered specifics on PEMCO's use of face-to-face engagement on a hyper-local basis. I then introduced Leslie to a friend and former WOMMA Board Member, Stuart Sheldon, President of Escalate Now.

As I reflect on the interview I'm hopeful that I provided Leslie and Bloomberg with information that was useful, a connection that was helpful, and that I represented WOMMA as a valuable source of information regarding word of mouth marketing as a movement.

Equally valuable to me is confirming that, in this instance, I know what I don't know. As a result, I was able to be authentic and honest without being tempted to make up answers or speculate. I was true to my personal brand. Something that I believe is worthwhile for everyone and a trait that provides a definite edge.

What do you think?