Friday, December 07, 2007

Best word of mouth ... came from on high

“Oh, it's the meek! Blessed are the meek! Oh, that's nice, isn't it? I'm glad they're getting something, 'cause they have a hell of a time.” From the movie - Monty Python’s Life of Brian

There is a ton of buzz out there about word of mouth campaigns. My friend Sean Moffitt, the guru on the subject, can fill you in on how companies design and implement WOM campaigns to support everything from free hugs on city streets to mobile phones. According to WPP Media Edge:cia 76 percent of consumers trust a friend’s recommendation; editorial comes in at 22 percent; ad placement -- 15 percent; website -- 8 percent (somebody better tell those corporate web guys).

But my personal opinion is this ... the world’s best word of mouth campaign, which started without the use of Internet, or any form of technology was started by just one Man, Jesus Christ and 12 of his closest buddies. OK…Judas is a bit of a stretch but he had a few good moments.

Imagine, you have a story to tell, a vision of universal hope, a message from your Father and a mission to save the world from its sins. And the only way you have to communicate all this, is through a word of mouth campaign sans technology and through multiple languages!

Your geographic reach is well, the world, and you have a short time to do it. No help from bloggers, no YouTube posting, no Flickr photos of His time in Galilee and no universal Wiki to get the masses scribing His teachings. Imagine a Wiki around this time, everyone contributing to the New Testament. Cool. I digress.

Jesus was the master of word of mouth proliferation. He told 12 guys, who told a bunch of other guys and gals, who told crowds and built legions of followers. And with each personal appearance (yes, He managed His own speaker’s calendar too) Jesus had standing room only on hillsides and mountain tops (thanks to pre-event buzz), and He had no PowerPoint support either. He spoke to crowds who didn’t Twitter, or pop open laptops to jot down his keynote address. You couldn’t Google anything about Him and yet the world became well aware of His inspirational message.

Now imagine trying to mount a word of mouth campaign today without the use of any social media. Without a doubt, we’d all say that would be next to impossible. More than 2,000 years ago, it seems the impossible was possible. This proves one thing: great storytelling and content is at the heart of a successful WOM campaign. We have plenty of newfangled tech tools to get the message out quickly but one thing they can’t do is make a story better.

Amen to that.


Annette said...

Brilliant post, Julie. And one more thing to consider. His message never wavered or changed -- the truth is the antithesis of "buzz", which is prone to temporariness and vulnerable to noise. Not only did He get His message out, but He managed to get His guys to stay on message too (I guess that's the thing about telling the truth!). A masterful communicator indeed!

James said...

Great post. The story in this case changed people's lives profoundly. It makes our advertising and marketing efforts look a bit silly to compare, actually. But the gist of what you say is right.

I think the core message here is that there better be some steak behind the sizzle.

Word of Mouth said...

How true! I "happened" to stumble upon your post. Imagine that? Thanks for the Truth.