Top 8 Takeaways from the 2011 WOMMA Annual Summit

WOMMA Annual Summit 2011The experience last week at the WOMMA Annual Summit in Las Vegas was unlike other marketing conferences I’ve attended. Read on and you’ll discover that the sessions included case studies full of insightful results, interesting best practices and wisdom for all marketers, no matter your focus or experience.

Most exciting and beneficial were the connections made over the three-day event. We spoke with many people from different brands, agencies, and solution providers like Janrain about their current challenges, where they’re seeing success, and how they planned to take their word of mouth efforts even further in 2012. While my brain is still buzzing from this great event, I wanted to share with you our collective Top Eight Takeaways from the WOMMA 2011 Annual Summit.

1) When Friends Talk, Friends Listen

What a great tagline from Sabrina Dee at Blue Calypso that encapsulates what’s happening in social media today. Our trust is with friends and family, and consumers often buy based on product purchase shares from friends – sometimes even before searching for products. Think social is more important than search?

2) Brands Must be Trusted Advisors

Yes, we trust our friends’ opinion more than brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a trusted advisor. Brands do this by educating and informing without a product pitch. A great example of this is Sephora and their online community where customers and product experts share on anything style related – not just the products they sell.

3) If You Love Your Customers, They Will Love You Back…and Tell Their Friends

Considering I was in a room full of word of mouth marketers, no explanation was needed on this one but I’d love to talk about your experience here. Are you sharing enough authentic, meaningful love that your customers are sharing it too?

4) Word of Mouth Isn’t New; the Tools Are New

Consumers today are armed with new tools that allow them to broadcast their thoughts, experiences and opinions. And as I’ve already mentioned, their friends are listening and trusting their message – whether it’s positive or negative about your brand. Key to success is leveraging positive buzz and responding immediately in an authentic, transparent manner when it’s negative.

5) Advocates vs Influencers: Who Has the Real Influence?

Michael Brito indicated that influencers will often stop advocating your product or brand when the outreach program (or free stuff) ends. On the flip side, advocates are your best, most loyal customers and while they may not have deep reach, as an aggregate they have incredible long-term potential to spread your messages.

6) Igniting Social Conversations Requires an Integrated Campaign

The Mattel group shared their secrets to success with the Barbie and Ken Reunion campaign which were: 1) having a seamless, integrated and cohesive campaign, 2) using a simple call to action (“should they reunite?”), and 3) connecting the online and offline experiences together.

7) eCommerce is Huge, but 92% of Sales Still Occur In the Store

Shopper Marketing is alive and well in the store, but retailers and manufacturers are also addressing the pre-shopping research that’s occurring online. Shopper data will empower brands to better understand shopping behaviors like intentions, across multiple channels, which they can leverage to grow sales.

8) Stand Out, or Don’t Bother

Sally Hogshead‘s “fascinating” opening keynote will be swirling in my head for a while. If you were there, you know why. If you weren’t, you need to know that brands that are provocative and interesting get noticed. Understanding how to fascinate your customers is critical to winning.

A repeated message that I heard in each and every session is: Word of mouth isn’t new; the tools available are. As marketers, it’s up to us to seek out the right tools to reach our business objectives and avoid being distracted by the shiny new toys.

I invite you to share your key takeaways in the comments below so we can all compare notes. There were many great sessions and I couldn’t make it to them all. If you want to learn more about Janrain’s tools, this video is a good starting point.