What is a word of mouth marketing activation

By Ted Wright April 15, 2019

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By Ted Wright

Recently somebody asked me to define the word “activation” as it relates to word of mouth marketing. It’s a word I use routinely but I thought I would step back and talk about activations today.

In our world where many traditional forms of marketing are in decline, we must rely on people to carry our messages forward. It’s the oldest form of marketing, and still the most reliable in many cases.

The heart of word of mouth marketing is the story. In our world, “story” isn’t necessarily a long narrative or a blog post. It’s simply something about you and your organization that is authentic, relevant, and interesting – a compelling concept or idea that spurs conversations!

An activation is a way we can help people convey that story in a special way. There are no activation “rules” or best practices per se, it is anything we can think of that will help ignite a story and get it to spread.

An effective activation is sort of like a beautifully wrapped holiday present. Look at those sparkles! Look at that big red bow! I can’t resist opening that thing!

Similarly, a word of mouth marketing activation makes your story irresistible.

Here are some examples:

Sampling – A very effective way to spread a story is by letting people try your wonderful product and even carry it to others.

Experiences – Can you immerse somebody in an experience or event that helps them internalize and understand your story?

Swag – Sometimes a high-quality and distinctive gift connected to your product can remind people to tell your story.

Visual prompts – A hulu dancer walking through a grocery store or a VW bug tricked-out to look like an influenza virus makes people want to know more. What is this about? Can I take a picture of this and share it with my friends?

The fuel for word of mouth marketing is the story, but the activation can serve as the rocket ship that carries the story far and wide.

Ted Wright

Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth.

Illustration marked safe for re-use by Unsplash.com


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