Corporate Eye

Brands Spending More Than Ever on Word-of-Mouth Marketing

word-of-mouth-marketing-reportThere is no doubt that word-of-mouth marketing on the social web can have a significant effect on a brand.  That effect has not gone unnoticed and according to a new report from PQ Media with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), brand spending on word of mouth marketing in 2008 grew by 14.2% to $1.54 billion.  The growth is expected to slow to 10.2% in 2009, but that’s still a strong double-digit growth rate.  Clearly, word of mouth marketing is taking a chunk out of some other traditional marketing tactics.

It’s important to understand that word of mouth marketing spending still only comprises a small fraction of overall brand marketing spending, but it also represents a shift in marketing investments that is not likely to stop growing anytime soon.  Connecting with consumers on websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter is the low hanging fruit that every brand manager wants to pick but still hasn’t found the way to detach from the branch.  That makes the shift in marketing investment from traditional tactics to online word of mouth marketing a scary one, and that’s a risk that many executives still aren’t prepared to make.  It’s a shame really.  The opportunities are so great.

With the growing importance of word of mouth marketing, consultants are reaping the rewards.  In fact, PQ Media reports that the word of mouth business grew by 18.7% in 2008 to $197 million.  There are even awards and recognition for word of mouth marketing campaigns like the WOMMY Awards.

Interest in word of mouth marketing is coming from all sides these days.  It’s not surprising.  Consumers are tired of being spoken at and want to be spoken to.  With the economic client failing them, they have lost trust in brands and look to people they know more so than ads and traditional marketing tactics to get information and make purchase decisions.  The only question brand managers and executives should be asking themselves is how much can we invest in word of mouth marketing this year?  If they’re still wondering if they should invest in word of mouth marketing at all, then they’re in trouble.

Your thoughts?

Image: PQ Media

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.