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The Advertising You Don’t Pay For

We wrote this over a decade ago, and ever since we’ve been discovering and inventing new ways to organize and inspire word-of-mouth in social networks and beyond. Enjoy!

We’ve all heard the expression, “Word of mouth is the best advertising.”  We’ve seen brands built seemingly on strong word-of-mouth alone.  But what’s harder to see is the contribution of strong word-of-mouth to brands with significant traditional advertising budgets. 

Two hundred million dollar advertisers with negative word-of-mouth are not uncommon, and without fail the word-of-mouth negates the advertising. On the other hand, strong word-of-mouth will multiply a budget, making $15 million work like $150 million.  Just consider Starbucks, Crunch Fitness, and JetBlue Airways.

How can you manage word-of-mouth?  Start with your heaviest, most loyal users and turn them into Brand Advocates. These are people so passionate about the brand they can’t help but express themselves in your support.  Know them.  Know what they’re saying.  Use planning to learn their word-of-mouth strategies for advocating the brand.  Then devise programs to support those strategies.