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Hey marketers out there: How many times have you had this kind of conversation...?

At a party or other social event, you're introduced to someone who's opening a new business. "That's great," you say politely. "How are you going to market it?"
Their response? "Oh, I don't believe in that kind of stuff. I think word of mouth is the best kind of marketing."
Sigh. As a matter of fact, genuine WOM .... the kind that generates referrals .... is terrific. But unfortunately, 99% of the people who say "word of mouth" really mean, "I'm not going to do anything." They use WOM as a rationalization for passivity. And in the real word of business, passivity equals death.
"Word-of-mouth" does not mean "sitting-on-behind" (SOB). Real WOM demands careful planning, hard work and persistence. It means crafting a memorable message, developing an engaging business persona, identifying appropriate media or social networks, targeting key influencers/talkers and, perhaps, creating a rewards program for your most active spokespeople. It's a major investment, but one that can be well worth doing. It's a very active program.
When we advocate WOM, we have to take pains to articulate exactly what we mean .... and all the activity and investment WOM really involves. Otherwise, we'll face a sea of prospects who'll use WOM as an excuse to slash their marketing budgets, content to let their customers magically come to them. And in fact they will sit and wait. And wait. And wait–

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image of Jonathan Kranz

Jonathan Kranz is the author of Writing Copy for Dummies and a copywriting veteran now in his 21st year of independent practice. A popular and provocative speaker, Jonathan offers in-house marketing writing training sessions to help organizations create more content, more effectively.

LinkedIn: Jonathan Kranz

Twitter: @jonkranz