Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Value of Reading... And Ice Cream

We're just returning from spring break today. Before we left, and as a way of encouraging students to show up on the Friday before the long vacation (many students schedule flights too close to class time), I told all students who showed up to class that there would be a special surprise. Of course, this created an information void and students began speculating on what the surprise was.

One student thought there would be some type of treat or food item, like ice cream, (probably banking on the knowledge that the most common way of motivating college students is through free food).

But much to my dismay, another student speculated that it would be something to read. I must be getting a reputation for assigning lots of reading!

Anyhow, on Friday, everyone showed up (sans one whom I later found out had travel plans) hoping for ice cream. I had to acknowledge that I didn't have ice cream for them, but that they were very smart (or I'm very predictable -- probably both!) in guessing I would be giving them something to read.

It turns out a few months ago Andy Sernovitz, past-CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association had a number of pre-press copies of his book (Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking) that had a typo on the cover. He sent an email asking those academics on the WOMMA advisory board if we wanted copies for our students. So, I took him up on his offer.

I suggested students read through it as they are thinking about designing their own WOM marketing programs for their client as part of our current class project. I let them know that I found some of his frameworks very helpful to determine essential elements of successful WOM marketing programs. For example, Andy writes about the Five Ts (all business books seem to have some useful mnemonic device so here's Andy's):

* Talkers: Find people who will talk about you
* Topics: Give people a reason to talk
* Tools: Help the message spread faster and farther
* Taking Part: Join the conversation
* Tracking: Measure and understand what people are saying

In class thus far we have discussed all of these principles and the academic research suggesting their relevance to WOM marketing programs (though, admittedly, what it takes me a long time to say, Andy can say much more succintly!).

Students, or others, who have read Andy's book are welcome to comment to this post.

Thanks Andy!

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