Word of mouth marketing has existed since the day of the first business. Sharing opinions and experiences has always been a means of success or failure for many companies. If you have an excellent product, people will find out and, as you can imagine, this same principle applies to those products of lesser quality.

In today’s age of social media and instant sharing, companies must utilize these tools to their advantage. Not only can social media allow you to monitor what is being said or share information, it can also be used to activate those that you want to share your message.

Marketing programs should be built from a referral perspective based on those most passionate about your brand. These passionate followers, or Zealots, live the philosophy of word of mouth marketing without even knowing the true power they possess. While tapping into this resource may seem obvious to many, it also shouldn’t be the end of the road for your marketing strategy.

Case and point: a recent promotion that our client CURE Childhood Cancer was involved in: Club Diamond Nation (CDN). Launched as the first virtual baseball and softball academy, CDN provided an opportunity for fans to vote for their favorite player for a chance to win a one-on-one training session. Additionally, CDN would donate $15,000 to the charity selected by the player who received the most votes.

CURE Childhood Cancer was the selected charity of CDN athlete and former Atlanta Braves pitcher, Tom Glavine.  Immediately, we began to promote the contest to followers of CURE Childhood Cancer, via e-blasts, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. With more than 31,000 fans on Facebook and even more on our email and blog lists, we were sure that this would be enough to win. However, after a month of voting we realized that this would not suffice if we really wanted to win the $15,000.

Softball player Jennie Finch was blowing Tom Glavine out of the water when it came to votes and, with a week left, Tom trailed Jennie by more than 1,200 votes.

The major issue? Those who are Zealots for CURE Childhood Cancer are passionate about finding a cure for the disease and as a result did not feel directly passionate about this promotion, as it was very baseball-oriented. This is when we decided to take another approach and activate indirect Zealots of CURE by targeting those who are Zealots of Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves.

Through Twitter, CURE Childhood Cancer and Tom Glavine promoted the contest to Braves fans and asked them to vote. Tom began to interact directly with fans and reward those who were spreading the word by retweeting and replying to them directly. As a result, the dialogue exploded in frequency.

In a matter of six days Tom Glavine received more 6,000 votes, 4,500 more than Jennie Finch during that time. Additionally, direct mentions of CURE on Twitter increased 810%, resulting in an increased reach of 1,490%.

By simply asking Braves fans to support their old pitcher, Tom Glavine, CURE Childhood Cancer won the CDN contest and the $15,000.

Yes, word of mouth marketing can serve as a wondrous opportunity for organizations.  Now through social media platforms, companies can not only listen to what people are saying about their brand, but also have an simple and direct way to start the conversation.

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