Put Word of Mouth Marketing to Work for Your Nonprofit

The powerful nexus between online communications, social networks, and traditional media is transforming the ways we communicate. As house parties (MoveOn is the innovator here), blogs, wikis and informal conversations (traditional and online) are changing communications rules forever, I’m starting to see a word of mouth marketing (WOM) discipline taking shape. And WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, is one of the major players.

One proof is that The Washington Post and Newsweek websites now link to blogs that that comment on stories they run. Not only do the links provide readers with more information, but they also give the Post and Newsweek continual feedback on what bloggers are saying about their articles. Clearly, the mainstream media cares about word of mouth marketing. You should too.

For nonprofits, word of mouth is a dream strategy. It’s low-cost but, when managed and executed thoughtfully, has the potential to exponentially increase interest in your organization, improve fundraising, turn supporters into evangelists, and build long-term commitments.

A powerful nonprofit example is the marketing campaign for The ACLU Freedom Files, a ten-part film series on how civil liberties affect real people everyday. In addition to launching a traditional media strategy, the ACLU is counting heavily on audience-sponsored screening events to spread the word and spur discussion and action at the community level. To ensure that events succeed, the ACLU provides online training on pre-screening and post-screening activities (from event promotion to sustaining the activist base of folks who attend) and downloadable sign-in sheets, opening remarks and press releases.

Additionally, the ACLU motivates more WOM with the offer of a free series DVD to supporters who tell five friends about the series, or link to it from their blog or website. Clearly, the ACLU is doing all it can to ensure that this WOM campaign works. I’m looking forward to hearing the results.

Keep posted. I’ll flag other nonprofit WOM campaigns as they begin to pop up.

Nancy Schwartz on November 8, 2005 in Nonprofit Communications, Strategy | 0 comments
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