03 February 2006

WOMBAT Roundup: George Silverman

It is said that the pioneers are the people that catch all the arrows and are buried when the settlers come in to get rich. Well, George Silverman is a word of mouth pioneer who’s been on the receiving end of more than his fair share of arrows…and he’s far from being buried. In fact, like a true pioneer, he’s forging ahead, beyond word of mouth marketing, to a new frontier.

George is the best-selling author of The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing and he’s been preaching the Gospel of WOM for some 35 years. Back when the advertising and marketing worlds were filled with “creatives” aiming at awards while indifferent to sales (a situation still largely true in Puerto Rico), George was quietly but firmly telling them “word of mouth.” Creator of the telephone-based focus group and other types of direct contact marketing studies, George probably knows more about how word of mouth actually spreads through a market than anybody alive.

So in that spirit, at a time when word of mouth is practically the constant wet dream of “settlers” seeking riches, you’d think these same “settlers” would be lining up at George’s door to get the “X marks the spot” map, right?

You’d think.

Seems that George, a self-effacing lover of magic, by rightly eschewing “I’m The Man” posturing, has faded into the background of the very field he almost single-handedly helped create. WOMBAT was an excellent event, but The Jenius and many others noticed that it was long—very long—on theory and short—woefully short—on practical methods to make WOM happen.

Guess who filled THAT need to a proverbial “T”? (The Jenius had a seat in the standing-room-only presentation George gave, mentioned here.)

In a private conversation afterwards, George acknowledged that he no longer “owned” word of mouth. So he was now aiming to “own” decision-making process. In essence, word of mouth or any marketing method is virtually useless unless it takes into account the way people make decisions. An upcoming book by George (working title: Friction-Free Marketing) is several steps in the right direction to taking all marketing, including WOM, to a greater level of success.

George Silverman may not be a business guru that takes an economy by storm. He is more the steady wind that makes reaching new horizons a workable adventure. The wise ones will sail with him. Here’s hoping that WOMMA will make use of his potential to help themselves grow as well.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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