Friday, May 05, 2006

Class Assignment: Evaluating Organized Word-of-Mouth Marketing Programs

If you're joining us from the invitation via my research blog, welcome!

I am excited to announce the first major assignment that my students will be working on. Their task is to evaluate the characteristics and effectiveness of an organized word-of-mouth marketing program.

Students will analyze the program in light of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Terminology Framework, specific WOM principles informing the program, and what lessons can be learned from the program and applied to the final capstone assignment in the class ("Designing an Organized Word-of-Mouth Marketing Program" for a client; more on that later).

One of the best parts is that a number of leading companies in the field (and their clients!) have agreed to collaborate with the students in my class. The companies will be providing students with information about the program, such as case studies, presentation decks, and relevant URLs, and will also answer questions about the programs in an interview with the students.

The main learning objectives for the assignment are to:

- 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.

In addition to writing up a report and presenting it to the rest of the class, students will also write an individual reflection essay to show what they learned from the process, if they want to work for the company who helped design the program, or if they would want to work for any company in the WOM marketing space.

Now I'm especially pleased to say that the following companies will be working with us on this project (listed in alphabetical order):

- Brains on Fire (Program: Rage Against the Haze)
- BzzAgent (Program: Radica Games' 20Q)
- Church of the Customer (Program: Discovery Educator Network)
- Matchstick (Program: Wine Council of Ontario's VQA)
- M80 (Program: Family Guy)

I tried to select a range of different business models so that students can be exposed to a variety of organized programs. (We'll also be learning about viral marketing and branded entertainment programs from a guest lecture by Steve Curran of PodDesign and we'll be learning about more of the research-side of WOM and CGM through readings and guest lectures from Ed Keller at the Keller Fay Group and Jim Nail from Cymfony).

If you are interested I have also attached a near-final version of the assignment sheet (PDF) so that you can learn more. Stay tuned!

Disclosure: All of the companies participating in this assignment are members of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and I am on WOMMA's advisory board. There are a number of other great companies who are not participating in this assignment, but I'm teaching the class again next Spring... :-)


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