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Word of Mouth for Associations

AssociationsNowCoverCheck out my interview with Lindy Dreyer as the cover story for the January issue of Associations Now. In Lindy's feature, Talking About the Word-of-Mouth Revolution, I share some thoughts on how associations can use word of mouth to grow their memberships and make their events more successful.

Here's an excerpt:

Lindy: Aren't associations already doing enough by our very nature as membership organizations?

Me: There's always more. There's no conference that couldn't be bigger. There's no membership that couldn't grow. There's no situation where you couldn't have a little bit more with less spending and less work if you had a few more people talking for you.

Think about it. You do an email campaign or direct-mail campaign and it goes to a certain number of people. What if 20 percent of them would hand it to a friend? You get one plus 20 percent. Everything works a little bit better.

In the down economy, with our marketing budgets taking a hit, what kind of resources will we need to invest in WOM in order to accomplish that extra 20 percent?

Just a little bit of time. Word-of-mouth marketing isn't about a new campaign; you hear the phrase "word-of-mouth campaign" a lot. It's not really a campaign. It's a way of doing things. It's a way of thinking about what you do so that you build forwardability and viralness into everything you do.

So, when you're creating a direct-mail piece, are you making sure it's the kind of thing that people will share? When you do an event invitation, are you doing it in a way that people are dying to show it to their friends?

Who within the association should be responsible for word of mouth? Is it a marketing function? A membership function? An event-planning function?

Really, one person in each department should at least have their eye on it. Someone doing events should be thinking about, "How can we make our events more buzz worthy?" Someone who's doing member services, someone who's doing member recruitment, and so on. For each program there are different word-of-mouth tactics that apply.

See the full article here.

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