But not from the usual Vegas reasons: staying up late, losing money and drinking too much. I did none of those during the three day WOMMA 2009 Summit in sin city. My excuse is too much information and so many great conversations with little down time to process. So now, I’m in the air heading home with a little time to reflect.

Summit 2009 content was heavily focused on case studies, social marketing techniques and measurement. In fact, WOMMA debuted it’s newly published “Measurement and Metrics Guidebook”, a collaboration of some of the best thinkers in social metrics. Check out ComBlu’s chapter by Jennifer Voisard on cost deflection. I moderated a session on “Community: An Important Driver of WOM” with panelists Dawn Lacallade , chief community strategist at Solar Winds and Bill Johnston chief community officer at Forum One.

And, Steve Hershberger helped lead the live “Socializing Media” podcast which featured a conversation with some of the best thinkers in word-of-mouth. In between hallway chat and keeping up with crucial projects, I attended a half dozen sessions. Here’s some of my favorite take aways.

Measurment Keynote. WOMMA’s chair of the Measurement Council, Walter Carl, PhD, presented highlights of the above cited tome of best practices in measurement. One interesting factoid was the impact of word of mouth marketing (WOM) on revenue vs. traditional marketing communications channels. Turns out the latter does a much better job of generating short term customer acquisition and revenue generation, while WOM yields higher customer lifetime value through longer, deeper customer relationships and a significantly higher referral rate for new customers. (1.7 per traditional channels vs. 3.8 for WOM).

Anatomy of Buzz Revisted. Author Emanual Rosen gave an address on what not-for-profits can teach commercial enterprises about generating buzz. Core to his examples is the concept that human beings want to share what they create. If you give them an opportunity to co-create with you and other stakeholders, they will spread their interpretation of the activity. I think this basic tenet of self-expression as an engagement model has been forgotten in the gold rush of social media and the bright shiny object syndrome.

The View, only with academics. Keller Fay principal, Brad Fay deftly led a panel of academics who all study various aspects of engagement, influencer identification, measurement, etc. You’re thinking this was deadly, right? They were great. Here’s the line-up.

Socializing Customer Service. Sue Sunday, Microsoft, Ed Billmaier, The Scotts Company and Marie Shubin The Gallo Winery, talked customer support. These were from wildly different industries: software, wine and fertilizer yet offered a common thread: the use of customer service professionals to become the voice of the company in social platforms. The rationale: many companies that start listening programs or solicit comments through online forums and communities often get quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of conversations. The solutions: repurpose customer service representatives from call centers or email support. Not only will they be able to handle a larger volume of customer support episodes through the online platform, but they typically can offer marketing three magic things: human resources who already have deep product knowledge and are steeped in the legal, privacy and compliance imperatives of their organizations.

Cognitive Science. Another potentially deadly topic that turned out to be the absolutely best presentation I heard. This one was lead by Steve Knox of P&G’s Tremor Group. He laid out how human’s think and a process for disrupting normal perceptions that serves to get people’s attention. Using this disruption model or combining two unrelated schemas can lead to the magic that we all seek: cutting through the clutter and getting consumers to notice, buy and tell others. This is highly over simplified, and definitely worth digging deeper. Who knew 45 minutes about schemas could mesmerize!

I’ll provide more learning about some of these sessions in upcoming posts. ComBlu also previewed our research report, “The State of Online Branded Communities” which we’ll also dive into in the weeks ahead. Now that I’ve gotten these ideas out of my head, the seat is going back and I’m snoozing the rest of the way home.

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.