Here’s how your nonprofit can win — big-time — with word-of-mouth marketing (w-o-m): Put traditional community organizing strategies to work.

Thanks to Michael Silberman of Echo Ditto and Darren Barefoot of Biro Creative for sharing their creative guidance on w-o-m at the recent NTC (NTEN’s conference). I’m so eager to share it with you, as there’s huge potential for your nonprofit marketing impact.

A Heartbeat Isn’t Enough: Your Nonprofit Must Be Remarkable

  1. Your marketing — online and offline — must be remarkable to be recognized, remembered, passed on and acted on.
  2. But…many of your routine offline and online marketing tactics — the email advertising, content strategy you implement daily — are unremarkable, inefficient and, as a result, counterproductive! They just heartbeats.
  3. The most effective nonprofit marketing teams don’t scale their work by buying email lists or Google Ad Words, or by spamming members with more and more direct mail, or via requests to sign petitions.
  4. Instead, they scale by being remarkable so they’re remarked upon
  5. That means your organization will be getting a good deal of your marketing done for you  — for free — by your most committed and passionate fans. And there’s nothing better than others’ talking about you; it’s human instinct to mistrust those who trumpet their own strengths.
  6. Word-of-mouth happens only when you provide a remarkable experience for them by being incredibly effective, unique, bold, creative and repeatable.
  7. Two steps to get there:
    • Create a remarkable relationship. A reliable path is linking your focus to what your supporters want to change in the world. The Howard Dean campaign motivated its supporters to go far beyond the usual tasks to host or join house parties.
    • Engage supporters in meaningful, engaging activity and continue to move them to higher levels of engagement. Vancouver’s Talk Green to Us site engages its citizenry via a offering multiple ways to interact, from proposing ideas to commenting or voting on submitted ideas. Make your asks bite-sized so the point-of-entry is low.

5-Star Word-of-Mouth Models

  • Greenpeace’s fundraising campaign/site for the second Rainbow Warrior features compelling storytelling, a fantastic 3-D rendering of the ship, and the opportunity to fund individual parts of the boat.
  • The University of Kentucky has put giant Facebook place icons throughout the campus to showcase its connectivity to prospective students. As students check in with their friends via Facebook, they also spread the word on the University. This is a perfect offline/online connection.

Please share your questions and recommendations for word-of-mouth marketing here. Word-of-mouth is finally evolving into a practical, tangible strategy and it’s a huge boon when we share what’s working and what doesn’t.

For more insight into word-of-mouth marketing, review the session slide deck here.

P.S. Get more in-depth case studies, templates and tools, and guidance for nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Viral Marketing | 3 comments
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