Word-of-mouth

What is this Tool?

  • Word-of-mouth promotion happens whenever one person tells others about the activity being advanced. For example, when someone tries a new bike path, likes using it and tells another person about it, the use of the bike path is being promoted by word-of-mouth.

Why Would You Use It?

  • Word-of-mouth is often responsible for the bulk of learning about and adopting a new behaviour. For example, BC21 PowerSmart, Guelph 2000, ReCAP and The Environment Network all found that it was one of the main ways of getting bookings for their home visits. Furthermore, word-of-mouth is essentially free of charge.

When Would You Use It?

  • Design methods to stimulate word-of-mouth promotion at all stages of your program.

How Would You Use It?

 
1. Provide program participants with an experience of such quality that they will want to tell others about it.

Examples

Several weeks after each home visit, BC21 PowerSmart returned to the homes to verify that products left behind had been properly installed and that residents were satisfied.

Your Program

How will you monitor and ensure peoples satisfaction with your program and the activity you are promoting?

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2. Leave participants with "show and tell," and other promotional materials to encourage and help them to tell others.

Examples

JEEP used pens, hats, T-shirts and key chains with logos on them.

ReCAP left promotional pamphlets with participants to distribute to others.

Green$aver encouraged promotion by word of mouth by leaving flyers with customers after completing assessments, and asking them to recommend the service if they were satisfied with it. Many new customers were referred by friends who were satisfied with Green$avers services.

Bert the Salmon produced a 10 minute video for use at community centre talks, and for free distribution to every customer who purchased a mulching lawn mower.

Your Program

What could you leave behind to encourage word-of-mouth promotion?

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3. Consider arranging introductory sessions to which participants can invite their friends and acquaintances.

Examples

North Shore Recycling’s Compost Coaching Program sent each participant an appointment confirmation that included an invitation to ask friends and neighbors to join. At the end of the session, it left participants with a “Pass it On” offering a free Compost Coaching session to participants’ friends, family and neighbors.

Regular listeners of BRIDGE's Tisankhenji radio program formed "Listeners Clubs" where young girls talked about the issues and shared their stories.

At the end of each GAP program, group members were asked to invite others to an introductory session hosted by their EcoTeam. A suggested script was provided.

Your Program

How could this work for your program?

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4. Ask participants to agree to tell others.

Examples

Participants first heard about GAP as "a program for developing sustainable lifestyles and helping others to do the same." At their first meeting, they were reminded of this goal, introduced to the recruiting process, and asked: "Are you up to attempting to create two more teams at the end of the program?" At the end of the program, each participant was asked to invite people to an introductory event.

Recycling neighbours in the city of Claremont were recruited to invite their non-recycling neighbours to participate.

People receiving home visits from ReCAP were simply asked: "If you are happy with the service you received, please tell others about it." This request was made orally at the end of the visit and was repeated on the recommendation sheet left with the residents.

Participants in Ottawas Commuter Challenge were encouraged to "bike or bus with a buddy", thereby encouraging participants to ask others to join them.

Tip: Research shows that this approach will not work if the person is not interested in spreading the word or feels pressured to do so.

Tip: See the Tool Obtaining a Commitment.

Your Program

How and when will you ask for this agreement?

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5. Provide feedback on individual and group achievements that participants can share with others.

Examples

GAP provided each EcoTeam with information on what they had achieved and sent past and current participants quarterly information on global EcoTeam accomplishments.

Tip: See the Tool Feedback.

Tip: Click on an image to enlarge it. Click your back button to return to this page.
Global Action Plan image
This map provided past and current GAP participants with information on global program achievements that they could share with others (1996).

Your Program

How will you provide feedback?

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