Without a doubt…Word-of-Mouth is the best marketing there is…hands down.
Of course, the trouble with WOM has always been how to influence/control/monitor it. In the past few years, strides have been made in this aspect with real world and online “buzz” campaigns.
These campaigns walk an ethical tightrope. Is this person giving me a glowing recommendation about a product doing it because they really like the product…or are they being paid/influenced to do so?
I think the ethical problem will continue to grow until we see a “payola” type scandal like that of the music/radio industry in the 60’s…and laws will then be written. The only thing that will stop it now is for marketers to police themselves….(yeah right)
Seth Stevenson has a great article about Burger King using shady buzz marketing to sell Halloween masks of their freaky Burger King mascot (who is an entire post unto himself)