Word of mouth marketing is first and foremost about ethics and earning the trust of our fans. Here is the opening that I wrote for the original WOMMA Ethics Code in 2005 (it has since been watered down by lawyers).
1. Happy, interested people will say good things about you.
It’s doesn’t take much more than that. Understand this concept, devote yourself to it, and you will be a successful word of mouth marketer.
2. Honest, genuine opinion is our medium.
We don’t tell people what to say or how to say it. We fundamentally believe that people should be free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. While supporting the natural conversation, we take great care to ensure that we do not distort it.
3. We start, support, and simplify the sharing.
Word of mouth marketers use creative techniques to encourage communications. We make it easier for people to talk to each other, we create interesting things to talk about, we create communities to share ideas, and we work to find the right people who should know about what we do. Traditional advertising pushes ideas on consumers. We help naturally occurring good ideas move around.
4. Word of mouth cannot be faked.
Deception, infiltration, dishonesty, shilling, and other attempts to manipulate consumers or the conversation are bad. Honest marketers do not do this, will not do this, and will get caught if they try. Sleazy behavior will be exposed by the public and backfire horribly on anyone who attempts it.
5. Word of mouth marketing empowers the consumer.
Consumers have control, and they dictate the terms of a new, healthier relationship between marketers and the people who use their products. Consumers demand satisfaction, respect, and great products and services. When companies deliver, people will tell their friends. Word of mouth marketers work to accelerate this process, replacing aggressive advertising with customer-centric service, support, and open communications.