Word of Mouth Marketing

April 24, 2007

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J0423020The gay and lesbian community is recognized for its communications habits: we learn more from word of mouth than from almost any other form of communication. That means we talk, text message, forward emails, make phone calls and share information between and among each other on a regular basis. It's how we learn about our community and the world around us.  It's the office water cooler writ large. It's part of who we are and how we relate to each other.

Word of mouth is a hard thing to manage and an even harder thing to contain. That's why it is so powerful. As communicators, we think about this all time in developing programs to reach various aspects of our community. And as client counselors, we deal with the fallout of such communication when word spreads about what a client is or isn't doing on an issue or challenge facing the community.

Word of mouth can also be used to proactively help promote a cause, issue or announcement. Marketers have figured this out and there are entire businesses devoted to word of mouth marketing for product launches and related projects.

As you may have noted yesterday, we're trying a little word of mouth experiment of our own. Jon Garbo posted a fascinating podcast of an interview with Dr. Marjorie Hill of GMHC. As part of the post, Jon issued a challenge to site visitors:

Readers: I will donate $1 for every legitimate comment we receive about the podcast in the two weeks following this posting, up to $250. Fleishman-Hillard will match me dollar for dollar. So please share your thoughts and feedback. Thank you! – Jon Garbo

As you can see, the comments are coming in, but we're not at 250 yet. To help boost the number of comments, we've been emailing friends and colleagues and using word of mouth to spread the word about the challenge. We hope you're doing the same thing: not only will the comments help fund donations for an incredibly worthy cause, but they'll demonstrate the power of word of mouth in promoting good works and good deeds. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this effort and we'll be sure to let you know the final total.