It Used to be ROI – Now it’s More Like WOI

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Ah, acronyms. If you’ve worked in investments, marketing or finance, you probably know the term ROI. It stands for Return on Investment. When a business spends or invests money, how much do they get back? If they invest $10,000 in marketing, they need to see a much greater return on that investment to be viable. So what’s WOI? Stay tuned… it’ll come up in a second.

The whole marketing world has been turned upside down by the internet. It used to be that big corporations ruled the world – kind of like the dinosaurs did in Jurassic Park. But like those dinosaurs, they don’t exactly rule any more. Now smaller companies have a much better shot at getting a share of the market because of the major changes in marketing methods that have resulted from social media.

The primary method of advertising a product twenty years ago was the big advertising campaign. Television and magazine ads ruled (remember broadcast networks and print magazines?). International companies like General Electric, Procter and Gamble, Ford and Revlon were the big players. Superbowl ads, full page or double spread layouts in Vogue, billboards – these were the messages that kept these big brands powerful.

It has almost been amusing to see these big companies come down to Earth and have to learn to interface with real people. David Meerman Scott, a social media expert who wrote the book The New Rules of Marketing and PR tells a story about how he went to a big Detroit car manufacturer website to research a new car purchase he was thinking about. Instead of finding a website that provided him with the interactivity he needed to plan this purchase, he found a screaming advertisement much like what he would find on television.

These big companies have had to learn the lessons of small companies. Be nimble, be adaptable, be fast, update your site frequently but most of all, be responsive to your customers’ needs. Don’t bludgeon people over the head with the product message YOU want to deliver.

Now – back to WOI. This is an invented term that means Word of Internet. So much of a message these days doesn’t travel by word of mouth as it does by Word of Internet. The right investment in social media and the right internet content earns you WOI.

In Hollywood, there’s a restaurant with the most magnificent short ribs ever. They also offer a 10% discount if you check in via Facebook. That restaurant considers WOI valuable enough to give you a discount. In a lot of cases, generating positive WOI isn’t really expensive. Negative WOI can, however, cost you plenty.

If you are like most people, you start searching on the internet when you need a product or service for which you don’t have an established vendor. As a test, an auto repair shop was searched for in the local area. The closest one had one review that was thorough, detailed, objective – and quite negative. Have you ever had a bad experience with a business and while fuming about it afterwards, wished you had a way to save other people from your bad experience? Maybe you already know that internet reviews now give you that way.

The classic tale of bad WOI that went unhandled by a major corporation is the story of the Dell laptop that burst into flames at a computer conference. The blaze was videoed by a bystander and posted to the internet within minutes. Dell lost a lot of business by not dealing with this negative WOI right away.

WOI can work for you or against you. It’s smart, these days, to get busy building yourself plenty of positive WOI that point people in your direction! There are many methods of doing this, some simple and cheap like asking people to check in at your restaurant in exchange for a little discount. Keeping your blog updated with interesting information is another way. If you provide interesting, useful information, people will link to your blog or forward it to a friend, winning you a little more WOI each time this is done. It’s good advice to keep your WOI positive and even do a search from time to time to see if there is any negative WOI you can clean up so customers keep flowing in your direction.

Morgan Fagerman