How to Succeed in Word of Mouth Marketing. The Experts Speak.

By Annabel Beyra, APR*
I had the privilege of attending this year’s PRSA International Conference in San Diego and thought I’d share a few tips of the trade from the experts in word of mouth marketing.

Geno Church, word of mouth inspiration officer for Brains on Fire helped us reflect on the idea that 90% of word of mouth still happens off-line, not on-line. Here’s the breakdown 75% is face to face, 7.5% is email and texting, 15% is voice to voice and only 2.5% is social media.

He says before embarking on any campaign we must first learn about our customers’ motivations. In other words, we need to explore what motivates them to participate and share. Once we gain a deeper understanding, we should consider developing “Movements” rather than campaigns.

Why movements? Because movements are sustainable, while campaigns are finite.  Movements inspire participation and enthusiasm and create brand evangelists. Here are a few lessons Geno shared with the group:

  • Movements are built by passion, not by the product, but what it allows you to do. They should be led by the best storytellers and it’s our job to identify these individuals that will help propel our brands.
  • Movements begin with the first conversation. The idea is to create a natural contagion so that the conversation continues.
  • Two key elements in movements: They are inspirational and provoke leadership. We must have something remarkable to “amplify.”
  • Movements have a barrier to entry. Not everyone needs to belong.
  • Movements empower people with knowledge.
  • When creating a movement, build it like it has to live forever.
  • Also, build it like you’re going to run out of money tomorrow.
  • Always remember that everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Movements have the ability to create “rock stars.”
  • Movements get results.
When creating a movement, Geno says it should enable an experience or support a cause and the ethos of the brand should be at its core.
Following are a few other pearls of wisdom that stood out for me that require no explanation:
  • Use creativity, heart and drama. Get innovative in content and messages
  • Leverage technology in the delivery of messages to feed buzz, provoke conversations and engagement.
  • Harness influencers to create contagion. There’s power in a few. This is the premise behind narrowcasting, hyper-targeting).
  • Work holistically and behave ethically
And finally, when developing a “movement,” remember this: “Advertising is a tax you pay for unremarkable thinking.” Robert Stephens, founder, Geek Squad

Annabel Beyra, APR is a board member of PRSA Miami. She is co-owner of Fusion Communications, a public relations firm specializing in the Latin America and US Hispanic markets and partner company in the MarketWise Group. Follow the group’s blog on

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