Used Car Salesman?

Would you trust this guy?

How do you tell others about your organisation? If you are a retail business which has a lot of foot traffic outside the store it would make sense to have a guy or girl handing out flyers. I have been walking past one of these stores only to see this person several metres infront of me, I will move to the other side of the footpath to avoid them and try not to make eye contact with them. If they still hold out a flyer for me I will shake my head before they even have a chance to say anything. It doesn’t just happen in the profit world. I’ve seen people in the non profit world at conferences and in shopping centres do the same thing.

Your organisation may try another channel to tell me about it by sending me some direct mail. But I see your organisation coming. I’m cynical about what you are going to say sell to me before I even open the envelope. The fancy printing. The slightly unusual size of the envelope. I’ve got your number. My shields are up and my phasers are set, not to stun, but to kill your message.

Your organisation may be a non profit, and your cause is amazing. Your message is probably life changing, life saving or life giving. Or you could be a business that is making an incredible offer to customers through a sale. For both of you, your marketing offer/message could be great, but your marketing tactics may, well, suck.

Here is a killer word of mouth marking tactic that lowered my barriers through the floor. I would normally I would ignore a flyer like this if it was sent to me in the post or if someone was handing out in the street. However an intern recently emailed this message to me and some others.

WOMMA email

Now this guy is a great guy. Well loved at work and in his friendship networks. When I received this I thought, that’s nice of him to think of me. 40% off. That’s a bargin.

The intern said he received a deluge of people thanking him for thinking of them. Wait, people thanking him for sending a flyer? Imagine getting phone calls thanking you for mailing out a direct mail piece or people stopping the flyer dude in the street for handing out the flyers. That just would never happen.

So why did it happen this time?

It was the same message, but with a smart word of mouth marketing tactic. Good job retail store. Here is the marketing tactic the store has made me become open to the offer:

Use an honest, trusted and authentic message carrier to deliver a short time bound offer.


The retail store has leveraged this intern’s friendship and family networks (distribution channels) and used a trusted voice to pass on their flyer. The retail store was right. I trust this guy. I didn’t think twice about the fact the store was using a marketing tactic. Because I trust this guy I became open to the offer.


This intern is also a very honest guy. I would believe (almost) anything he told me. The retail store has leveraged the fact that his friendships and family trust him and know that he is an honest guy to remove or lower the barriers to purchase. Read his email, it screams sincerity because it is sincere. He isn’t pushing anything, just being a great guy and letting us know about this great deal.


I love the authenticity of the intern’s mail. He even speaks into the space about it being a piece of junk mail and says to trash it. The thing is that he actually means it which will make even the hardest anti-junk mail people just that little bit more receptive to the actual marketing message. For some they may become wide open to the message and actually buy something because it was from him and he may be even serving them. Genius.


Your marketing/communications message may be brilliant, but you have to choose the best marketing tactics to deliver that message. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is your message clearly defined? (what’s in it for them?)

2. What is the best channel for this message to reach the right people? (Post, personal, word of mouth, etc)

3. Who is the best message carrier in this channel to reach the right people? (Will the carrier lower or raise barriers to trust?)

4. Will they be receptive to this message from these people in this medium?

How about you. What good or bad examples have you seen of word of mouth marketing?

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