Wombat Book --- NewSell
by Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 9:12 AM -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some additions, clarifications, minor adaptations, color texting, and numbered paragraphs to make the text easier to use in follow-along reading and referencing during dialogs.... This version is for use only by course presenters certified by An Ever Better World Internet Academy. Permission granted from author on March 5, 2007.

Chapter 18. WOMBAT Marketing
wombatbook.pdf pages 169 -

Why WOMBATs always win in the end

‘WOMBAT stands for Word Of Mouth Buy And Tell.
This is a very simple system which is easy to
replicate because most ten year olds are
already good at it.’
The X10 Memeplex, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

1. Everyone is a WOMBAT. All the time. This is the most valuable insight in this book and the more you get this insight, the more you’ll get from this book. Here it is again: Everyone is a WOMBAT. All the time!

2. Oldsell is ‘close driven’. Oldsell is about sales managers DYSHing their salespeople with the mantra, ‘Did you close the sale?’ or ‘Did you get the order?’. The strategy of newsell has been to look at selling from the customer’s viewpoint, not the sales manager’s. Newsell recognizes that the customer closes the sale, not the salesperson.

3. In fact, as customers, we are all closing sales, all the time. We are buying ideas and opportunities, goods and services all day long. We are always telling others about our new ideas, our favourite products and the latest services. In fact, everyone is buying and telling all the time. Yes, we are all WOMBATs and we know a lot about how WOMBATs think, how they behave and what they like and dislike.

4. For example:

  • WOMBATs like to be first.

  • We like to share.

  • Show off.

  • Help out and be helped.

  • We like to flirt with other WOMBATs.

  • We like to influence them and, in turn, we like to win the approval of other WOMBATs.

  • Sometimes we like to be Ambassadors.

  • Other times, we like to be waited on and served.

  • WOMBATs do like rewards but we are also wary and suspicious when they are offered too easily.

  • Some WOMBATs are free and independent.

  • They replicate for their own reasons, not for yours.

  • WOMBATs do love recognition. We appreciate feedback.

  • Especially when it is sincere, fair and objective.

  • WOMBATs distrust salesmanship.

  • Sometimes we are entertained by it but we don’t necessarily buy it.

  • WOMBATs trust WOMBATs.

  • WOMBATs hate being boxed-in, corralled or pressured.

  • We detest being manipulated and we warn other WOMBATs.

  • WOMBATs can be fooled but we are not suckers.

  • WOMBATs are reliable friends but we can be devoted enemies.

  • WOMBATs are not bees – we don’t buzz. We buy and tell.

  • We are often unpredictable because we have our own secret networks and connections. Our contacts cross generations, neighbourhoods, communities and hemispheres.

  • WOMBATs have friends in unexpected places.

  • WOMBATs have a limited attention span. We get bored. We tire of things.

  • We like to participate. We don’t like being lectured.

  • WOMBATs do love stories. We like to tell them and we like to hear stories from other WOMBATs.

  • We love gossip. It’s how we relate to one another. We love stories about sex, scandals, lies and ‘closed doors’.

  • WOMBATs like secrets and stories about the bizarre and unusual. Why? Because we love to get a good laugh from another WOMBAT so we pass on stories that are hilarious, outrageous and naughty.

These are the reasons why WOMBATs give other WOMBATs their undivided attention. And, as a WOMBAT, you already know this from your own experience.

‘Take Home’ Value

WOMBATs can be CEOs and presidents of corporations. Most of my consulting activities involve coaching or working with CEOs and their organisations. Often, I’m invited to speak to groups of WOMBAT CEOs.

The TEC groups (The Executive Connection) in Australia and New Zealand are membership groups of WOMBAT CEOs, while in the US, the YPO (Young Presidents Organisation) is an international body of chief executive officers of established companies who became members by the age of 40. They are all WOMBATs through local chapter meetings, regular regional conferences, and their international ‘universities’ where they share with each other a world-class structure for personal and professional development, financial support and business leads. They also enjoy a mutual support network for the unique problems faced by the chief executive of a modern corporation.

A few years ago, YPO headquarters in Texas asked me to speak to a conference of about 45 YPOers responsible for planning their regional conferences around the world for the coming year. Inevitably, the YPOers at the conference raised the question, ‘What about ‘take home’ value?’ ‘Take home’ value is a specific, useable idea, tip, ploy or tactic that delegates can take home from the conference and put to use immediately in their own businesses. Wisely, they don’t want to waste their time with fuzzy, esoteric, nonsense of an impractical nature.

So, I said to the group (who were by now familiar with CVSTOBVS), ‘If your current view of the situation (CVS) is “take home” value, let’s now go beyond that and look for a better view of the situation (BVS)’. In the discussion that followed the BVS that they moved up to was ‘pass on’ value.

‘Pass On’ Value

‘Pass on’ value applies to an idea that is not just good enough for you to take home and use yourself but one that is so simple, elegant and robust that you can pass it on to your family, colleagues, employees, customers or friends. From ‘take home’ value to ‘pass on’ value, from CVSTOBVS.

Pass on value is all about replication. It’s that quality of an information package that makes it very likely to be passed on by recipients and so to replicate itself again and again, many times over.

Example: Let’s take a joke. You’ll have heard some jokes; most of them in fact, that as soon as they’re told you may laugh a little but that’s it. You forget them. Then there is the joke that is so funny, so to the point, so timely that you just can’t wait to tell someone = ‘pass on’ value.

The same applies to gossip. All good gossip has, by definition, pass on value. Most juicy gossip with great pass on value usually begins with the phrase, ‘Promise you won’t tell anyone but you’ll die when you hear what happened to . . . ’


The quintessence of a BVS is pass on value. When I am designing a BVS I try to ensure that it has pass on value – an arrangement of information so powerful that it replicates itself. When one human brain so influences another human brain that it reaches the point of changing its CVS to a new BVS, this brain-to-brain messaging, in business, is called Word-of-Mouth advertising.

Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, who has called this pass on effect ‘replicator power’, says that it is the genetic effect of certain information to replicate itself:

‘As part of their equipment, bodies evolved on-board computers – brains. Brains evolved the capacity to communicate with other brains by means of language which opens up new possibilities for self-replicating entities. The new replicators are not DNA. They are patterns of information that can thrive only in brains or in the artificially manufactured products of brains – books, computers and so on. But, given that brains, books and computers exist, these new replicators, which I call “memes” to distinguish them from genes, can propagate themselves from brain to brain, from brain to book, from book to brain, from brain to computer, from computer to brain.’ The Blind Watchmaker


Dawkins’ ‘Meme’ meme has itself caught on and is widely discussed on the Internet. There are newsgroups and others who are interested and a whole area called ‘memetics’ has sprung up. Much of the discussion seems to misunderstand Dawkins’ idea but it is fun to check it out. If you are interested you can do a Yahoo search for ‘memes’ and ‘memetics’. I have written in The X10

Memeplex about how memes acquire brain space in people (WOMBATs) and get themselves spread around.

The School of Thinking also offers training in memetic thinking as part of the newsell training (http://www.schoolofthinking.org/).

Selling as Replication

The time has come when we can look at a salesperson as the part s/he plays in the ‘replication of the product meme’. The product meme is the special information package, the business BVS, entrusted to the salesperson by his or her company. The salesperson acts as the replicator, who passes a BVS on to A, who passes it on to B, who passes it on to C.

For some, this discussion on memes may seem tangential, others will see the opportunity this link gives for marketing to harvest some exciting scientific work that is going on in this field.

Word-of-Mouth or WOM

When this kind of approach to selling is properly understood and structured, it is the most efficient, profitable and powerful selling strategy that has yet been devised. Regis McKenna at http://www.mckennagroup.com who helped put the Macintosh computer on the map says, ‘Word-of-mouth is probably the most powerful form of communication in the business world’.

It certainly worked on me. My Chicago lawyer friend Peter Bensinger Jr. (once called the ‘most wired lawyer in America’) told me about the Mac when it first came out over 20 years ago. We both bought one. We got online and played a computer game about World War II submarine warfare called Gato. We did it for hours and hours on end.

Since then I’ve bought dozens of Macs and told thousands of people how great they are. I’m a WOMBAT.

No doubt you are familiar with this kind of scenario. A friend told you about a movie that she really liked and encouraged you to go see it. You saw the movie and liked it so much that you told another friend and he went to the movie and so on. That’s because you’re a WOMBAT too.

This, of course, isn’t new. It’s every marketing director’s dream and word-of-mouth advertising is the oldest and still considered to be the most effective of all advertising strategies.

Three of the most common WOM (word-of-mouth) applications are:

1. COI – Centre of Influence

2. MLM – Multi-Level-Marketing and

3. Affiliate Marketing.

Centre of Influence

In any population sub-group, such as a target audience or a market niche, the 10 per cent lead the 90 per cent. There is usually a small group of heavy-hitters who call the shots and are known in the trade as a COI (centre of influence). COIs may be a handful of trade journalists, a few market-leaders, some early innovators, an industry spokesperson, a recognized guru or a high-profile customer. When these people talk the rest of the target audience listens.

Every marketing plan or personal sales plan should seriously consider who should be on the COI list. Who are the influential top ten VIPs that you have on your COI list?

WOM + Money = MLM

One of the most controversial marketing phenomena of the past 20 years is multi-level marketing (MLM). Starting out as pyramid-schemes, like Holiday Magic in the late 1960s, they soon attracted the attention of the legislators. Pyramid schemes are now illegal and most schemes have evolved into network or multi-level marketing, otherwise known as MLM.

The MLM twist to traditional WOM adds the reward of money. It can be a very interesting idea because it means that the customer also becomes the marketer and has the potential of harnessing the most powerful trick in the universe.

Long ago and far away (millions of light years) a molecule happened that was different to all other molecules that had ever existed. The unique difference was that this molecule could reproduce itself. It could replicate. And so, from this special molecule evolved DNA and genes and everything that has ever lived on the planet!

If genes couldn’t replicate, then you wouldn’t be reading this now because neither you nor I nor this paper would ever have existed. Genetic replication is a very clever trick and is the most powerful fact of life that we know.

The mathematics of replication produces staggering numbers. If we hop from genetics back to marketing we can see the potential of the idea of the customer also becoming the marketer. This would mean that customers could self-replicate. Five customers could soon become 25 then 125, 625, 3125, 15,625, 78,125, 390,625, 1,953,125, 9,765,625. That’s around 10 million customers from 5 after just 10 generations. And indeed, this is what can happen, in theory, when customers self-replicate, creating new customers, who also self-replicate and so on.

One of the reasons that it doesn’t happen, in reality, is because most people are reluctant to sell to their friends, and as soon as this occurs, the replication ceases. Anyone in MLM knows this from their own experience. The more successful MLMers are those who go beyond their friends.

In the last two decades, MLM became one of the fastest growing marketing models in the world but is now in decline. Unfortunately, due to oldsell, the potential has been spoiled. Some MLM programs have a quasi-religious spin on them which has caused a negative reaction amongst customers in the marketplace. For example, a few years back a notorious American soap MLM organisation was successfully sued by the large conventional soap company, Procter and Gamble. In their defense, these crusading MLMers claimed that Procter and Gamble was the work of ‘the devil’.

Most people tell me they have been subjected to high pressure, misrepresentation, even lying to customers in what is called ‘the curiosity approach’ by these oldsell operations. This type of oldsell behaviour spoils the marketplace and only demonstrates how little these MLM practitioners really understand WOM and replication systems. Even the punitive court actions against them have done little to change their oldsell behaviour or to win back the customers’ respect.

On the other hand, there are many quality direct selling and MLM organisations who are widely respected by their distributors and customers alike. Some provide realistic business platforms for their distributors with no capital required. These companies offer a clever product mix with a sensible, long-term, marketing plan. These can also be maximized using newsell.

The Clever MLMer

For over 20 years I have been fascinated by MLM systems. There are two varieties: get-rich-quick and build-your-business. The vast majority of people have failed to meet their expectations. This is mostly due to the hyped-up, unrealistic oldsell expectations that are widely proclaimed by greedy get-rich-quick merchants. Caveat emptor. Yet I have known a small minority of people who have met and even surpassed all their expectations. By using the build-your-business attitude and servicing a retail network of satisfied customers these people receive healthy monthly incomes which steadily increase as each satisfied customer WOMs the product and evolves into a downline sub-distributor.

The most successful and clever MLMers have one Golden Rule:

Never accept a new distributor downline unless they are already a satisfied retail customer. No exceptions!

A satisfied customer is one who is WOM-qualified. Evidence of this is a customer who has bought and used the product at retail and then wants to re-order. Such a customer is genuinely qualified to WOM. Only then, at the earliest, does a clever MLMer allow such a customer to become a sub-distributor. Those who understand replication systems can use this policy to build a strong and deep MLM business in 12 to 36 months.

Devils and Wombats

In working with MLM organisations, I try to help them choose a newsell style. I point out they can choose between two contrasting strategies: devils and wombats.

The devil-style is oldsell and DEVIL stands for Daily Enthusiastic Victories and Inspirational Leadership.... Few people have escaped contact with these Rah! Rah! Rah! sect-like schemes of the follow-the-leader variety.... They are famous for their exaggerated claims, their intimidation and high-pressure, oldsell sales tricks.

Devils often begin their new customer relationship with a lie like, ‘Come over to my place for a coffee’. When you get there it’s a sales pitch for an MLM company. Some devil-style organisations encourage this and call it the ‘curiosity approach’. I call it the stupidity approach. It’s hard to see how you could abuse a customer more than to begin the relationship with a lie!

By contrast there is the wombat-style of MLM system. This is a newsell style and WOMBAT stands for Word-Of-Mouth Buy And Tell. This is a pure system which is simple to replicate because most ten-year-olds can do it. It sticks to the Golden Rule mentioned above and is built only on a rock-solid base of satisfied customers who:

1. first buy the product at retail. Then

2. when they are satisfied, they tell others about it.

This is the true WOMBAT: Word of mouth through buy and tell.

In my experience the wombats outlast the devils 100 to 1. I only wish I had been taught about it when I was ten years old. With compound interest I would have been a millionaire by the time I was called up for Viet Nam!

Affiliate Marketing

One facet of Internet marketing is called ‘affiliate marketing’. Amazon.com is probably the best-known example but there is an ever-increasing number of affiliate marketing schemes. Many of these schemes are oldsell and are copies of the direct-mail schemes of the 1980s which have been exported to the online environment. These are characterised by using email to spam prospective customers on a large scale. Spam is electronic ‘junk mail’.

Customer complaints have caused the legislators to crack down on spammers with many countries introducing privacy laws. Many other affiliate programs, like Amazon, use opt-in/opt-out or permission marketing to differentiate themselves from the spammers. This situation is an online arms race that will continue.

Gossip, Pass on and WOMBATs

Of all the animals of the world, humans are the greatest gossips. Gossip is a by-product of the unusually large human brain with its high-order faculty of language. The new millennium finds the human species with an extended global network, backed by external communication technology, which makes for the ultimate pass on gossip system..... Gossip, with satisfied customers, is what WOMBATs do..... But always remember, unsatisfied customers gossip too!

This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some minor adaptations and color texting, for use only by course presenters certified by Ideal Network Academy. Use permission herein granted from author Michael Hewitt-Gleeson on March 5, 2007.

Hardcopy book and pdf format sources NO longer online, might be available from links at
WOMBAT SELLING: How to sell by Word of Mouth

Return to About Author and Contents Index

Go To Chapter 19

VERBAL Dialogues in Internet Conference Room
and For Internet Conference DAILY Schedule,
consult data on this link.