An excellent opinion piece here by Chris Bell on the power of word of mouth.
It seems there is a conflict in society at the momeent. Companies spend more and more money on marketing in order to sway consumers while at the same time consumers are less and less swayed by marketing in general.
As Chris points out, the killer app is word of mouth – both because it is neutral and respected, and also because it’s free (in some senses – I guess it costs to make a good product that will attract WOM cred but it’s a cost on the right side of the equation).
The big disconnect is that traditional marketing companies in part don;’t understand WOM marketing and also feel very threatened by it (it does, to a certain extent, render them irrelevant and unnecessary). The winning plays of the future will be based on finding ways to aggregate and disseminate WOM information in new and useful ways.