Whats Your Take on Word of Mouth

The folks at BzzAgent sent me a nifty book, The Word of Mouth Manual: Volume II. Dave Balter writes and Seth Minkin illustrates (some fun stuff, by the way). What’s different about this book than some others, however, is that Dave LIVES this stuff. He’s in the word of mouth business.

Not BzzAgent specifically, but when it comes to “managed word of mouth,” as Dave calls it, I consider some of these plays to be something like when a liquor vendor pays someone to sit at a bar an talk about how much they love new Zima Black. And yet, that’s some of what’s taking place on the web. I’ve been circling these waters at different points over the last few years and have yet to make up my mind completely.

Balter’s point is that very few companies make a product that speaks for itself, and that guided word of mouth is just a way of helping something take root. I get that, and I think I endorse it, but here’s where I stick (and I haven’t read the whole book in detail, so maybe this is covered very well). I need to know that you’re endorsing something. I need to know that someone sent it to you. And then, I’m quite okay.

That’s how I’m handling the few things people have sent me of late:

  • Nikon D60 camera. (They want it back, but I guess I can buy it off them).
  • Flip Ultra.
  • Garmin Nuvi 200 (this is a loaner).

When I meet someone at a conference and I pull out the camera, someone immediately comments. I then immediately reply that Nikon USA sent it to me to check it out and play with. You might notice that I’ve never blogged about the camera. But EVERY single time someone sees it, I talk about the fact it was sent to me. Ditto the Flip, the Nuvi, etc. (In context. I don’t blurt out confessions).

So, if there’s disclosure, I’m really cool with it. If not, it’s lying. (Oddly, I just searched my PDF version of the book for “disclosure” and found zero hits; searched for “lying” and got about a dozen.)

By the way, if you want a FREE copy of the book for yourself, just click that link.

So what’s your take on it? What do YOU think about Word of Mouth and how this all works?

I don’t think you should discount the book. It’s a decent read, full of ideas and arguments. I think it’s worth considering, if only to further your impressions and opinions on the matter. Me? I’m still out. Why don’t you tell me your take?

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