Word Of Mouth Still Works

A friend of mine makes cool athletic gear on the side and made me a couple of tennis skirts that are unlike any other – custom fabrics and made to my measurements, with ball pockets. You can’t get that from Nike. When I wore the skirts on the courts, women were asking a lot of questions and so the chain reaction began. Several players are now in line for a custom skirt and one is even considering team skirts. This was in-person, word-of-mouth marketing at its best. And it would not have happened the same way online because: a personal endorsement and enthusiasm for a product is more infectious in-person, the women could accurately see and feel the fabric, and I am not connected to most of these women via social media.

I believe word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is more powerful than ever — especially if it’s a face-to-face interaction. It’s especially effective in cause marketing because everyone has a compelling story to tell. 



I have friends fundraising right now as part of the Boston Marathon Franklin Park Coalition Team. The Franklin Park Coalition serves as a voice for Franklin Park, a 527-acre historic greenspace located in the geographic heart of Boston and part of the famed “Emerald Necklace.” The coalition engages community members through advocacy, programs, and restoration. 

Because I live north of the city, I only visit Franklin Park once a year for a five-mile race. So why am I compelled to support this cause when the park and its programs are removed from my own community? WOM again. My friends do a great job of talking up the park, its mission, and why they are compelled to fundraise and run for the cause. This inspires me to give to the cause and support their efforts. The in-person factor is huge here. Smartly, their fundraising efforts include several events like a comedy night, corn hole tournament and a yard sale. Seeing their expressions, feeling their positivity and hearing their enthusiasm as they talk about Franklin Park, well, who wouldn’t donate? You can’t get all of that from Facebook.

If you are fundraising for a cause, an integrated approach is always best, but try focusing a bit more on in-person WOM and storytelling:

  • Be sure to tell people why you are inspired to fundraise on behalf of an organization; make your connection to the cause personal.

  • Talk about how the experience of fundraising for an organization is allowing you to grow as a person; in my experience, at some point during the volunteer or fundraising process people have epiphanies that encourage continued involvement and pique others’ interest. And, demonstrated dedication leads to more donations and volunteers.

  • Share stories that matter; touching examples of a charity’s success compel people to give or volunteer.

  • Don’t talk at people. Have real, meaningful conversations with potential donors. They have questions when they are thinking of supporting a cause – give them your time and enthusiastic responses.

From tennis skirts to charitable contributions, WOM works. Step away from the computer and go talk to someone.

1 comment about "Word Of Mouth Still Works".
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  1. Vanessa Piccinini from Access Communications, March 18, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.

    Great reminder, Michele!

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