Getting Word of Mouth Advertising to Work

“Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight… cause of William Dawes.”

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Hhhhmmm. I’m guessing that doesn’t sound quite right to you, and you’re thinking, “Wait. What happened to Paul Revere? It’s supposed to be ‘… and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.’ And who’s this Dawes guy anyway?”

Actually, you’re right. The famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is Paul Revere’s Ride. And that night’s ride and message was an incredibly successful word-of-mouth advertising campaign. It ultimately led to victory over the British for American independence. What most people don’t know or forgot about that night was that there were two riders. Paul Revere took the water route out of Boston on that famous April night in 1775, and William Dawes took the land route to the south. Both men were tasked with informing others of the impending British invasion. So why don’t more people think of William Dawes when remembering this event in history?

Longfellow poem notwithstanding, Revere is more remembered because his message hit the tipping point and had greater propensity to go viral, as shared in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Gladwell goes on to share that Revere’s message may have tipped because of the type of man he was. First, he was a connector – one who’s well-connected to a lot of other people. Revere was both connected and reliable. That’s certainly not to insinuate that Dawes was in any way unreliable… just not as connected. (You can hear it now, “Who’s this Dawes guy rousing me at midnight with some cockamamie story about a British invasion? I’m going back to bed.”)

Secondly, Gladwell believes that Revere was also a maven – a clearing house of information. By definition: One who is experienced or knowledgeable. The key to being a good maven is not just to have a lot of information, but to be the type of person who truly wants to help others with that information. Mavens aren’t selling; they simply have a passion for sharing and using information to assist others. Revere fit the bill. He personally collected and tracked troop movement for weeks and was passionate about saving his fellow patriots from attack.

Be on the lookout for your connectors and mavens with your next campaign. Review your social networks for them. When these types speak up about your company, it improves the possibility of hitting the tipping point.

While I can’t find your connectors and mavens, I can help you with your message. Contact me to discuss your copy needs.

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