202.577.3350 will@willmarlow.com
Plane

I received an invitation yesterday to attend a barbecue from an old friend from college.  He just returned from a “Birthright Israel” trip, which is a Jewish-Israeli charity that pays (over $400 million over the last ten years) to bring Jewish people who live in other countries to visit Israel for 10 day trips.

I just learned that upon return from the trip, Birthright Israel will reimburse the travelers for the costs associated with a welcome home party for themselves and as many guests as they wish to invite.  All the traveler needs to do is take a photograph of all the guests with the food and drinks, and they will be reimbursed.

From a word of mouth marketing perspective, this is very, very smart.  If you are spending a huge amount of money on one key, necessary activity that is responsible for most of your costs, you need to continually ask yourself: how can I derive more value from that activity?  For example, if you have a fundraising event or a reunion once a year, but you don’t arrange for a photographer (or if you don’t position disposable digital cameras at strategic locations for the guests to use), then you lose out on gaining lots of permanent assets that you could use to promote next year’s event.  You’re already paying for the cost of the event – if you pay a little more, you can exponentially increase impact.

Or, if you are doing anything that is truly remarkable (in other words, something that people like to talk about, such as traveling), but you aren’t encouraging people to talk to their friends in a number of ways about it (both offline at a party, or online on Twitter and Facebook), you’re missing out on very important opportunities.

Will Marlow is a digital strategist/online marketing consultant.  He’s the co-founder of  AlumniFidelity, which is a Web 2.0 fundraising platform for colleges, nonprofits and secondary schools.   He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, and Bowling Green State University and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  He would love to help you market your business on the Internet, boost the fundraising numbers for your school or nonprofit, or sellout your next big event.