5 Word of Mouth Marketing Lessons from A Passover Seder

By Judi Friedman April 7, 2013

lessons from a passover seder

Last week, my family got together to celebrate Passover. Passover is a time when Jews around the world commemorate the exodus of the enslaved Israelites from Egypt. It is a story of deceit, discovery, plagues, and redemption.

If you’ve never been, a Seder can be quite long and at one point, I must admit my mind started to wander. I found myself thinking about how this particular story has been shared for over 5,000 years.

Here are lessons all word of mouth marketers can learn from Passover traditions:

1. Be Interesting and Relevant

Stories have staying power because they become important within a specific community. Understanding your communities and making sure a story ‘talks’ to them is the most important thing you can do.

2. Don’t Change Your Story’s Core

This is the backbone of your message. You need a level of consistency that doesn’t vary so that people feel safe sharing it. Variations may develop based on the needs and experiences of your community. For example, the Passover story may have different traditions whether you are a Reform or Orthodox Jew, or if you are of Ethiopian, Sephardic, or Ashkenazi descent, but the core story elements never vary.

3. Help Your Community Put Rituals Around the Story

The Passover Seder uses food to reinforce story elements. When we talk about the ten plagues, we put one drop of red wine for each plague on our plate. If the story is important to a community, devising rituals that go along with it help a story become completely integrated into the community’s personality. Marrying a physical action that supports your story will help with that integration. Think of the associations, occasion, feel, and taste connected to placing a slice of lime in a bottle of Corona beer. J. Walker Smith, Executive Chairman of The Futures Company, stresses the importance of collaboration between the brand and its consumers during this process.

4. The Community Owns the Story

Once you unleash a story, a marker for its success is whether a community makes it their own. They may take one tenet or they make take all, bending it to what suits them in the retelling. That’s when you can achieve longevity.

5. Look for Ways to Refresh the Story

Once it has been circulating in the community, there may be additional threads that make your story relevant to a new constituency within that community. Many years ago, Jews in the Reform community asked why not ordain women Rabbis? A story spread through the community that an Orthodox Rabbi exclaimed, “A woman belongs on the Bimah like an orange belongs on the Seder plate.” It didn’t happen exactly like this (the real story involves a crust of bread), but word spread and oranges showed up on Seder plates as a symbol of equality and inclusion.

It is the task of the word of mouth marketer to find a balance. We must ensure the stories we tell are authentic and unyielding in their core message, yet flexible enough to allow communities to incorporate them into their lives. It is in that balance that our stories endure.


This was originally posted on WOMMA’s All Things WOMM blog.

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