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Perhaps because alcohol products have had greater restrictions advertising on mainstream channels and therefore have had more time to experiment with other levers. But it is now more evident with the announcement that Jim Beam’s CMO Rory Finlay is committed to refocusing it’s advertising budget into activities aimed at generating Word of mouth.

Word of mouth marketing is not new. It started around the camp-fire when people debated over what were the best hunting tools, and conversations continued into market places where trade flourished. But since the invention of the TV, which radically changed the way brands spoke to consumers, many big brands have either forgotten or ignored the levers that drive word of mouth marketing.

Perspective: The science of how you measure word of mouth marketing is still in it’s infancy, and no doubt organisations like WOMMA will continue to promote various metrics to try to standardise the way word of mouth can be measured. But there are some quite simple initiatives that marketeers can do to maximise the word of mouth marketing effect of their campaigns.

Here’s a check-list that it worth considering as part of every campaign or activity, which should help you enhance the word of mouth marketing impact.
1. What conversations will this campaign drive?
e.g new product feature discussions, boasting about the experience, will they be category discussions or specific to your brand?
2. What mediums will these conversations use?
e.g. at an event, on an online discussion group, social networking commentary, dinner table discussions
3. How can we make it easier for these conversations to take place?
e.g. Can you provide photos of an event that consumers can download and post to their social networks?
4. What can I do to monitor some of these conversations? (one of the easiest success measures is an increase in online discussions that unlike tacit conversations are recorded. Hint, you need to know what the existing conversational levels are to measure a change, so if you don’t have an online monitoring service, consider starting one.
5. Testing
Can I test the campaign’s word of mouth impact before hand or with a smaller sample? For example, run the campaign in an area where you can more easily measure the impact, this will provide an opportunity to make any changes before a major launch.
6. Incentives
What incentives can I give people to share the conversations with others, and what ways are there to reward this? Are there opportunities to allow people to create Consumer generated content to express their opinions.
7. Involve your staff.
Can you utilise your existing employees to generate conversations related to the campaign?
8. Call to action
Does the campaign have calls to action which allow people to sign up to special offers?
9. Use your evangelists.
Do you have a record of brand advocates, or a loyalty program, and if so, have you involved them or made them aware of the campaign? if you don’t, then use this campaign to start a database.
10. Evaluate the results
Make sure you learn from the results, get into the habit of asking these questions before the campaign is designed, so you can change where necessary.