Archive for April, 2010

Mayo Clinic: Effective Word-Of-Mouth

Point: Good word-of-mouth can be made even better

Story: The Mayo Clinic is known around the world for reputable, high-quality health care. How can the company extend and expand this good word of mouth? Seth Godin provided an insightful answer during his Online Marketing Innovation Q&A, April 15, 2010 hosted by HSMAmericas.

“When people talk about the Mayo Clinic, they know it’s a good place. But does their conversation lead to an action? Is it specific enough?” People clearly do turn to the Mayo Clinic in a last-ditch attempt to survive rare or hard-to-treat diseases.  But do they also think of the Clinic for more routine (and more common) health treatments such as diagnostics?

Godin contrasted Mayo Clinic’s situation with that of the Pritikin Centers of the 1980s. The Pritikin diet taught people a way to eat that could reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol (leading edge in its time.)  Godin’s own father went on the diet and improved his health. When people commented, “Wow, you look great!” Godin’s father would reply, “I was on the Pritikin Diet. You can read the book or visit their clinics to find out more about it.” Hundreds of other customers were as enthusiastic about the results as Godin’s father was, and word of mouth quickly spread.

The key for the Mayo Clinic, Godin advised, is to emphasize some of the proactive diagnostics that the clinic offers, to give people a reason to go there before having a specific disease. The people who go there and receive the Clinic’s lauded good care and service will be naturally motivated to spread the word.


  1. Expand your product’s or service’s functionality to include common uses, not just rare applications
  2. Look at brands as verbs, not adjectives — a brand should be about doing something, not just being “good” or “high-quality”
  3. Create word-of-mouth that sparks action, like investigation or emulation — make the people who see the results of your service also want those results for themselves.

Update: Seth Godin also spoke at the World Innovation Forum on June 9, 2010

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