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Is the marketplace turning into the Iowa State Fair? Are we coming home with all kinds of samples and freebies stuck in an electric company plastic sack while companies expect us to remember them and talk them up?

I shutter when you suggest, "if your customers are going to become an extension of your sales force, why not craft a few simple messages they can use when speaking about your products?"

So now my neighbor has "talking points" just like the political pundits on the tube.

Most are capable of spotting the talking heads do their talking points. Will we learn to distinguish THAT kind of WOM from "the free kind"? Or will we in the end just dismiss it all?

Great conversation!

Keep creating,
Mike

David -- I was reading an article in the Sunday paper not long ago that centered on this very topic -- people signing up for freebies to talk up and actually making ok money from it. You do have a good angle, and I know this is a topic you're passionate about!

Cam -- we do, don't we? Funny how we are all searching for the pure intent when the truth is we are influenced by marketing *and* our biases. Does the pitch seem genuine? In other words, do you believe in it? That's what I look at.

I think the customer pays for all kinds of WOM. Some explicitly, and some implicitly. Of course, the goal of every marketer of a product or service should be that the consumers sing its praises. Samples don't necessarily bother me. I do view endorsements with some skepticism if the product was free or lent, but the test for me is if the endorsement is thought out well enough to overcome my concerns.

I very well could be in the minority on that point, though.

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