Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Laying It All Out: First Draft of Course Schedule for WOM Marketing Course

OK, I've got my learning objectives now. I know how much time I have. I've got the topics I want to cover and the assignments. I even received some valuable feedback on what I've done so far. Next, I lay it all out in the course schedule (click to open a PDF version of the image above).

This is just a first draft of course. It may change based on the schedules of the guest lecturers whom I want to invite. A trick of this summer schedule is that it's four days a week over 7 weeks so everything is really compressed. This factor will affect how many, and the complexity level, of the readings I will assign for the students, which will be the subject of a future post.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Feedback on the Course So Far: A View from the Church of the Customer's Jackie Huba

I recently received some excellent feedback from the Church of the Customers' Jackie Huba, a customer-evangelist-extraordinaire, and co-author (with Ben McConnell) of Creating Customer Evangelists. Jackie looked at the initial framework of the course and gave it a thumbs-up so far. She said that she liked the idea of having students posting and commenting on the course blog and thought the course topics sounded fun to learn about. She also added this helpful note:
Only feedback I would have is just wondering if you are going to have any discussions of loyalty as it relates to word of mouth. As you know, we believe that WOM is a long-term marketing strategy which comes from 1) having a product/service worth talking about 2) cultivating a passionate base of loyal customers.
After reading her comment I realized I didn't highlight loyalty in the topics or course objectives. I planned on covering loyalty in the discussion on the academic history of WOM as well as when we covered the six tenets of customer evangelism as part of a module on influential practitioner frameworks for WOM. I agree with her that loyalty, as well as advocacy, are important enough to be highlighted in a title. So here's what I came up with:
"Haven’t We Always Known About WOM? Tracing the History of Academic and Popular Press Ideas of WOM, Loyalty, and Advocacy"
Part of this discussion will focus on why customer loyalty and advocacy are especially important in today's marketplace.

Thanks for the feeback Jackie!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Creating Assignments to Fulfill Learning Objectives for the WOM Marketing Communication Course

I've got my learning objectives now. I can also visually see how much time I have. I've got the topics I want to cover. Now I develop assignments that will create opportunities for the students to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts and skills we're covering. Here's what I have so far, in summary form:

Word of Mouth Marketing Company Research Project – 10% The purpose of this assignment is to learn more about particular WOMM companies, the types of services they provide, their clients, the backgrounds of the principals, and the WOM concepts and principles that inform their business practice and methodology. You will be required to use at least three sources in your research (for example, internet and/or library searches, interviews, company documents, etc.). Your inquiry will result in an essay of approximately 1500 words.

WOM Communication Diary and Reflection Essay – 10% The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on your own WOM practices. Select [X] WOM episodes over a two-week period of time. Complete the Word-of-Mouth Episode Survey online. Write a reflection essay of approximately 1000 words noting patterns in your own behavior and perceptions of WOM communication episodes.

WOM Book Summary Report – 15%
Select a popular press book written on WOM, buzz, or viral marketing communication (see suggested list on assignment sheet). Select two chapters from one of these books and review them, drawing upon course concepts to discuss their strengths and weaknesses. The report should focus on how principles or insights can be applied to the final capstone assignment. In addition to the report you will make a brief presentation to the rest of the class summarizing your review.

Designing Organized WOM Program (Capstone Assignment) – 30% The purpose of this capstone assignment is to pull together all the principles and skills that you have learned in the class. You will work in teams to custom-design a WOM program for a client that has a clear WOM, buzz, and/or viral component. You will prepare a written proposal and present that proposal to the client in class as part of a team presentation.

Final Exam – 15% [Likely to be a combination of matching, multiple choice, short essay, and a longer essay component.]

Course Blog Participation – 10% Starting with Class X and running until the end of the term, students must create at least three (3) unique blog posts and must have at least 10 comments to other people’s posts. The content of the posts should be about your experience in the course, and commentary on the readings and concepts. All blogging activity will need to conform to the Course Blogging Guidelines (distributed in class). Assessment will be based on students’ participation in the course blog, with the twin goals of making unique contributions, as well as referencing and building off of each others’ ideas. Students should also follow blogs devoted to WOMM and should post a minimum of three (3) comments on those blogs (students will print out their comments and turn them in). [[NOTE: Does requiring blog participation go against the nature of blogging? Should this be optional?]]

In-Class Participation & Attendance – 10%
This portion of your grade includes contributions for in-class discussion, in-class activities, attendance, homework assignments, listening responsiveness, case studies, etc.

If you were taking this course, what assignments and projects would you like to participate in?


Monday, March 13, 2006

Building Out the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Communication Schedule: Making the Class Topics Sizzle

After I've worked through my learning objectives and seen what I have to work with in terms of class meeting times, I now think about creating specific class topics.

In my past syllabi the titles for what we would do each day were a bit bland, like "Basic Principles of Topic X" or "Applications of Topic Y". This time around I'm trying to add a little sizzle. Here are some that I've come up with (I invite suggestions on other topics to include as well as jazzing up some of these topic titles):
• Consumer Generated Media and Word-of-Mouth: The Birth and Rise of an Industry

• What’s the Difference Between WOM, Buzz, and Viral Marketing? Who Says So and Why Should I Care?

• Learning to Listen: Wake Up! Consumers Are Talking About You… You Better Learn From It

• Learning to Let Go: What Control Freaks Need to Learn in a World of Consumer-Control and Engagement

• Kickin’ It Old School: Haven’t We Always Known About WOM? Tracing the History of Academic and Popular Press Ideas of WOM

• Influentials: Fact, Fiction, or Cultural Narrative?

• The Dark Side of the (WOM) Force: Why Obi-Wan Never Shilled and Yoda Never Went Stealth

• Avoid the Hype! Key Company Players in the WOM Space and the Concepts & Principles That Inform Their Business Models

• Evangelists, Ambassadors, and Bees: Exploring the Rhetorical Metaphors of WOM Industry Practice

• Why “WOM vs. Advertising” is a Stupid Idea (But It Sure Gets People Talking!): Integrating WOM Into the Media Plan

• Practitioner Principles and Frameworks for Organizing WOM [This one needs to be jazzed up some]

• Who Said You Can’t Measure WOM? Seeking the Holy Grail of WOM ROI

• Finding the Inner Anthropologist In All of Us: Why Understanding WOM May Be More Important than Measuring It

• Mapping the Conversational Geography of WOM: The Conversational and Relational Basis of WOM

• Learning from Consumer Communities and Online WOM [Important topic, but boring title -- need to change]

• Blogging Your Way to a Better Tomorrow: Using Blogs and Avoiding Synthetic Transparency

• Thiscompanysucks.com!: How To Deal With Negative WOM

• “I Never Though About It That Way”: Interrogating the Societal Effects of Peer-to-Peer Influence as a Marketing Strategy

• Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Understanding What WOM Can and Can’t Do For Your Organization
I'll need to sequence these on the schedule but before I do that I'll put some time into creating assignments that tie to the learning objectives and the class content.


40 Hours of WOM

After I write my learning objectives I like to make a table of the dates I have to work with. My class will take place during "Summer 1" which runs from May 11 - May 27. The class will meet four times a week, for six weeks. This will give us 24 class periods at 100 minutes each. 2400 minutes to work with. 40 hours of WOM.



Friday, March 10, 2006

Learning Objectives For A Course on WOM, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication

This is how it begins. When I design a new course I start with what I want the students to take away at the end. Here's a list that I came up with.

By the end of this course you should be able to:

• Identify factors contributing to the recent resurgence in word-of-mouth (WOM);
• Trace the history of academic and popular press ideas that inform the current WOM, buzz, and viral marketing industry;
• Articulate how WOM is both a set of activities and a larger philosophy;
• Identify reasons why consumers engage in WOM;
• Compare and contrast characteristics of everyday (organic) and organized (amplified) WOM;
• Apply effective strategies of monitoring, tracking, and listening to consumer WOM in both online and offline venues;
• Demonstrate how WOM concepts and principles inform a WOMM company’s business practices;
• Integrate effectively WOM principles into an organization’s business practices;
• Measure and track ROI and other key outcome metrics for organized WOM programs;
• Distinguish between ethical and unethical WOM practices;
• Reflect critically on your own WOM communication practices.

What else should students come away with?


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Building A Course on Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication

Over the next few weeks I will be blogging about my preparations for my new special topics course on word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing communication.

The goal is to provide students and anyone else who is interested a sense of my thinking in designing the course and to invite comments to help make the course a better learning experience.

It begins now...