And you’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on

Here’s the intro to a piece I wrote 10 years ago (!) for a management publication:

Several years ago there was a television commercial that featured a woman bragging about how great her hair dye was. She then said that she told a friend about it — and the screen split to show two of her now — and they each told two friends (and the screen split again) and then she said “And so on and so on and so on” until the screen split into what seemed infinity, all filled up with users of Clairol.
Welcome to the world of Clairol marketing. Others may call it “viral marketing,” but that sounds far too sinister for what is actually a pass-along marketing effort that asks friends to recommend to friends.
Clairol marketing has a high degree of success because, as every marketing study shows, people act upon the advice they receive from trusted friends. In the theatre world we call it “word of mouth.” If you’ve got bad word of mouth, no amount of advertising, publicity or snake oil is going to save your show. If you’ve got good word of mouth, these efforts build upon each other.
When it comes to Clairol marketing, there’s no more exciting method than the Internet. That’s because the Internet is fast, cheap, and, if used sensitively, friendly.

OK, so I got nowhere in trying to call it “Clairol marketing” (and perhaps the makers of Clairol would have had something to say about that as well). But the point was dead-on, and predates what we now call Social Media Marketing. What is Social Media Marketing? It’s word-of-mouth writ large.

A big part of generating word of mouth for organizations:  referrals. It’s important to ask for referrals, and to give them. This is the perfect week to jump into that, because this week is Make a Referral Week 2010 — and it’s free. Here’s how to jump on board.

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