Idea of The Week: Have you tried word of mouse advertising?

>The Situation:

Here at MD we love Kiva, the organization that makes micro-loans to budding entrepreneurs in the developing world (or what MD member, Jennifer Holland, calls ‘the majority world’). Why do we love Kiva? Two reasons. One, they’re not a typical charity – when you contribute money, you make a loan to a deserving micro-entrepreneur – and when the loan is paid back, you can loan that same money again, to another entrepreneur. Brilliant.

>The Idea:

Kiva is now celebrating their 5th birthday. In an email they ask us to “Help us celebrate Kiva’s 5th birthday! Invite 5 friends who lend and get a $25 credit.” The idea (of course) is what we call “word of mouse” advertising – where they tell me, I tell you, you tell others – and they grow their membership base – and their lending fund – exponentially – in a very short time. (Others call this approach ‘viral marketing,’ but who wants to spread or catch a virus?).

>The Risk:

Question: Have you tried word of mouse to promote your business? Many MD members have – alerting us to sale events they or their clients are holding – and introducing us to TeamBuy and GroupOn, two of the many ‘spread the word’ buying programs that have sprung up recently, and so on. Is there a risk? Yes. If your message is blatantly self-serving it won’t spread unless your offer is spectacular.

>The Reward:

If you hit it right, or – as in our case – you’re promoting a deserving third party like Kiva (10% of our product sales this year will be contributed to Kiva loans) – then your word of mouse campaign could/should be a winner.

>The Call to Action:

Hmm. How can we find out if word of mouse works? I know. Let’s forward the Kiva 5th Birthday message to all MD members – and ask you not only to join Kiva yourself – but also to forward this note to five others who you think would like to hear about it. It won’t be easy for us to track the results from this mailing, but you will be able to track the results from forwarding the message, using the “invitation” page that Kiva provides (go to and join, then click on the 5th Birthday ‘Get Started’ button and away you go). Then we can measure our success by doing a brief MD survey two weeks from now. Are you in?

PS – An important note from Jonathan: Need some hands-on help? Imagine all the ways you would benefit from a $6000 marketing/sales/service makeover – with Neil Godin training your team? Now imagine that this program would cost you only $1000 – with the balance picked up by a Government of BC small business stimulus grant? If you’re located in BC, call me now for full details at 778.378.9100. We’ve never seen a program like this. Important point: To qualify, you must have between one and fifty employees on your payroll (we’re sorry to say that the program is not available to business owners who do not have employees). The application process is simple and applications are being approved quickly. But this funding will not last. Why not call me now?


Please scroll down for details on the grant program.

We invite you to connect with us at:

Twitter: @jdgem / @neilgodin

Facebook:   Jonathan Christian / Neil Godin

Email – /

Web – /

Phone 778. 378. 9100/ 604. 888. 4612


Details re BC Government grant program for training:

The BC government is providing $5000 grants to companies that need sales and marketing training (and other forms of training) but need help with funding. (This is part of the stimulus program, aimed at making BC companies more competitive and innovative).

My colleague (and our Program Coordinator) Jonathan Christian, has already conducted several of these programs with his own clients, and in both cases his clients received approval of their applications very quickly, and received payment from the government before the training started. His typical sales and service training programs cost $6000 each, with $5000 being paid by the government, and only $1000 paid by the client.

My typical small business makeover program costs $6000, and involves training a team of three to ten. But we can scale the program and the cost down for companies that only have one of two employees. Important note: employees must be ‘official,’ meaning that they are on your payroll – with appropriate payroll deductions – they can’t be contract workers who assist you but are not on the payroll. Part owners can be subsidized as long as they hold no more than a 10% share.

While you can choose any trainer and just about any kind of training you like, if you want me to come in and conduct training with your team (in sales, service, marketing and/or team building), it would be at the same typical cost – $6000 – with $5000 subsidized by the government (subject to their approval, in advance, of course), with you paying only the $1000 balance. This is a very unusual opportunity that probably won’t last, so if you’re interested please contact Jonathan right away.

Call Jonathan at 778.378.9100 – or email:

Here are the basic details:

  • The program is available to companies with a minimum of one employee but less than 50 employees (‘employees’ include owners who hold no more than a 20% share).
  • The maximum subsidy is $1500 per employee, and $5000 total).
  • You can use any training company you wish, and you can choose any kind of training, as I understand it.

In publicizing this program the government has required that training companies like ours use their text (below) to communicate the information.


Here is the text of the official government notice:

“The Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development has established a new initiative, the Workplace Training for Innovation Pilot Program (WTIP). The program is designed to provide funding to eligible employers with less than 50 staff for the employee training of their choice, delivered by the training provider of their choice. Through WTIP, employers decide on the training and the training provider best suited to assist them to improve productivity, enhance competitiveness, and/or introduce new technology, equipment, or work processes. There are hundreds of training options available across the province for employers to choose from, including colleges or private training institutions. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development has not pre-approved nor endorsed any courses, programs, or training providers with respect to WTIP. For more information, please visit the WTIP website at or contact the Program Administrator (Chemistry Consulting Group Inc.) toll-free at 1 877 365-5757. Of course, you’re welcome to contact the government’s consulting group. But if you want to work with me, specifically, please contact Jonathan right away, as I’m sure these grants will be taken up very quickly.


Call Jonathan at 778.378.9100 – or email:  Or Twitter @jdgem

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Speak Your Mind