Word of Mouth Realities

At the dentist’s office this morning I saw a sign that said something like “The greatest compliment we can receive is you recommending our services to your friends and loved ones”. Since the dentist is my brother-in-law I guess I’m included there. The thing is; most of us involved in nonprofit work (like the for profit sector in most cases as well) are convinced that the most effective and efficient way to expand awareness, participation, and funding of our work is through the personal interactions of people who know and like what we do. When I was a pastor for a start up church congregation I was constantly encouraging our congregants to do just that, and often disappointed when it didn’t seem to be happening. Marketing guru Seth Godin lists several reasons why word of mouth doesn’t happen. It sheds some light on some of my past experience and may be useful to consider for many others as well.