We’ve shared a lot about the right things to do, but it is also important to realize what not to do when it comes to creating word-of-mouth and being talkable.

Stunts Suggest Desperation

Being noticed isn’t the same as being remarkable. The idea “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is incorrect. Of course, bad publicity of your store or restaurant will hurt sales and could put you out of business.

Sometimes, to create a quick way to drive sales, operators turn to stunts. Stunts are perceived as a low cost, quick ways to get awareness of your brand.

But, local store marketing and building word-of-mouth isn’t being a circus show. It’s not about simply being extreme. Stunts are easy, but – in the long term – not useful. Being scandalous might work on occasion, but it’s not a strategy; it’s desperation.

Unethical Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies

bad_guyAny practice intended to deceive people is unethical and should not be used. Specifically the following methods:

  • Stealth Marketing: Any practice designed to deceive people about the involvement of marketers in a communication.
  • Shilling: Paying people to talk about (or promote) a product without disclosing that they are working for the company; impersonating a customer.
  • Infiltration: Using fake identities in an online discussion to promote a product; taking over a website, conversation, or live event against the wishes or rules set by the proprietor.
  • Comment Spam: Using automated software (‘bots’) to post unrelated or inappropriate comments to blogs or other online communities.
  • Defacement: Vandalizing or damaging property to promote a product.
  • Spam: Sending bulk or unsolicited email or other messages without explicit, voluntary permission.
  • Falsification: Knowingly disseminating false or misleading information.

Word of mouth marketing cannot be fake.

Artificial word-of-mouth marketing is dishonest and ineffective. Word-of-mouth marketing must be based on the honest opinions of real people. We strongly oppose any practice that tries to fake word-of-mouth.

Ethical and responsible word-of-mouth marketers do not . . .

  • Impersonate people, shill, or hide their identities,
  • Manipulate or corrupt honest opinions, or
  • Infiltrate, invade, or violate online or offline venues.

Dishonest word-of-mouth marketing will always be exposed and deplored.

Marketers must work to oppose and end unethical practices.

All marketers should be aware that unethical practices are used by unscrupulous or uninformed companies. The standards of ethics and consumer protection are evolving rapidly, and many marketers have not yet learned about the current standards (or choose to ignore them). Regardless of intent, such unethical practices jeopardize consumer trust and ultimately harm both consumers and honest marketers.

We strongly recommend that marketers aggressively review the practices of their agencies, vendors, and internal departments. Insist on the highest level of ethics, and insist that all of your campaigns comply with the WOMMA Code of Conduct and the Honesty ROI.