WOMbound: A New Term for Word of Mouth Marketing

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 9.39.03 AMI have been a huge proponent of word of mouth marketing. Why? Because word of mouth works and is the most effective way to reach customers.

Many of my blog posts and presentations focus on this concept as it relates to word of mouth marketing in independent and faith-based schools. Word of mouth is always the number one way that a prospective parent discovers a private school.

As I have thought about word of mouth marketing in light of the current discussion on Inbound Marketing and its differences from Outbound Marketing, it is time to refer to word of mouth marketing in a new way.


I first introduced this new term for word of mouth marketing in a webinar I facilitated for the Association of Independent Schools Admission Professionals (AISAP) on Tuesday.

Let me explain.

WOMbound is your Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing strategy. It is how you get your customers talking. It is how you harness the power of word of mouth and turn your satisfied customers into active promoters.

This is my working, draft definition:

“WOMbound is the intentional and proactive strategy to generate, facilitate and inspire word of mouth through your customers, advocates and ambassadors. It is how brand advocacy works by harnessing the power of word of mouth to reach your potential customers most effectively in today’s market.”

It is simply another way to say “word of mouth marketing” which has been popularized, and rightly so, by Andy Sernovitz in his bestselling book, Word of Mouth Marketing.

WOMbound is different from Inbound and Outbound marketing strategies but it can involve both. Let me explain.

Outbound marketing describes the traditional marketing strategies that we push out to the market we are trying to reach. Print, radio, TV and direct mail fall into this category of interruptive marketing strategies.

Inbound marketing, as developed by Brian Hallagan and Dharmesh Shah in their break-through book, Inbound Marketing, describe this as a strategy that “pulls the prospect or customer toward the business and its products.” Inbound marketing utilizes web-based marketing strategies that dominate our focus today from websites to social media sites to video and remarkable content.

WOMbound marketing can utilize both Inbound and Outbound marketing strategies to help inspire word of mouth. A print or television ad may evoke emotion and brand awareness and help to start a conversation. A Facebook page or website may tell the story of the business, school or organization, which will, in turn, inspire word of mouth.

I believe that WOMbound should be the driver in your marketing strategy. It should be the starting point for your marketing strategy. Your goal is to get word of mouth moving in the right direction.

Since word of mouth is the number one way that parents first learn about a school or a customer first learns about a business, it is critical that you look through the lens of WOMbound marketing when you are utilizing Inbound and Outbound strategies. WOMbound is the concept by which you can develop your word of mouth marketing plan which should should include the tools of inbound and outbound strategies to reach your target audience.

Every school, business, and non-profit organization needs to go WOMbound.

What do you think about WOMbound as a way to describe word of mouth marketing? 

Do you have a WOMbound marketing strategy?