Why 'word of mouth' marketing won't work

Seth Godin wrote a terrific post Friday on what the Iowa caucus can teach you about marketing and (by our reading of it) the necessity of evangelizing your message to customers. It’s called The truth about word of mouth, and Seth’s point is that it doesn’t really work — at least, not as well as we think it does, or should.

Why, you might ask, doesn’t “word of mouth” work? And what does a political caucus have to do with this — much less the task of marketing to my customer base?

Ah! This is why Seth is the guru…

Seth writes that despite Iowa’s significance (and there was a record turnout this year):

“90% of voters skip [the caucus] because they don’t want to stand up in front of people and tell them who they’re voting for. They don’t want to be challenged or made to look foolish. So they keep quiet.

That’s what most of your customers do. They lay low, because they’re afraid or shy or just not used to talking about brands and products or experiences.”

Just like Iowans, most consumers are shy and don’t really like to “blab and babble.” Thus, no “word of mouth.”

So your job, argues Seth, is to “figure out how to get them out there. Cajole them to go to a caucus,” where they become the 10% who will “blab and babble” about your product, your service, your business.

This is also known as evangelizing, and several Found|READ contributors have pressed its case previously:
* Om wrote about it in What are a startup’s key assets?
* Guy Kawasaki talked about it in Found|WATCH: The Art of the Startlet
* See also: Thought of the Day: Evangelize, It’s your Job!; and Why talking to reporters is good for you.

Just do it!

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