Many months ago I got an email from a local friend about their efforts in helping to promote a new documentary called, The Secret. I watched the trailer online and it gave me a whiff of something akin to another modern "documentary" called, What The Bleep Do We Know? - which I rather enjoyed from an entertainment perspective (verses a true even-keeled documentary backed up the wazoo with facts).
Being a fan of the motivational forum and knowing that The Secret was actually a "movie" consisting of interviews with motivational speakers and personal development coaches on the law of attraction, I paid to watch a streaming version of The Secret online. I rather liked it. I thought the production quality was decent and some of the insights were inspirational. Then, I forgot about it.
A few weeks later, I noticed that our local book retailer, Indigo, was promoting the book, The Secret, and selling the DVD as well. The DVD was not for sale in Montreal - my guess is because a French version was not made - so I picked up a copy on a recent trip to Toronto. I watched the film for a second time and enjoyed it again.
Then three things happened that made me appreciate the true power of word of mouth marketing:
2. The Power Within launched a full day speaking event in Toronto that will feature some of the people from The Secret movie. The first date - April 14th, 2007 - sold out almost immediately and they've since added a second date - April 15th, 2007. You can read more about it here: The Power Within - The Secret Live.
A movie about the law of attraction outselling Academy Award nominated films on their week of DVD release?
How does that happen?
If you can get beyond the cliché answer of it being because of the law of attraction, you'll scratch further beneath the surface and see a very effective word of mouth marketing campaign that displays hints of multi-level marketing, affiliate marketing tactics and a near-perfect use of online marketing in all of its glory.
Basically, the people featured in The Secret are pulling out all of the stops. The days of these speakers driving around, presenting at the local rotary club and selling cassettes out of the trunks of their rented cars are long gone. They've embraced technology, the Web and social media. They're not even selling. They're letting us - people like you and I - spread the virus... and they're hitting a Tipping Point.
Marketing and communications professionals can learn many lessons by watching the success of The Secret unfold. Each speaker leveraged their database to spread The Secret and as word of the movie snowballed the speakers capitalized on the publicity to gain the attention of people like Oprah and Larry King - and they did this all with very little traditional marketing... it was (and still is) an online marketing play. My guess is the marketing and advertising budget to date are mostly being spent on Google AdWords (do you have any idea how near-impossible it would be to rank high for the search term, "the secret"?).
If marketing is music, then The Secret could well be one of its symphonic triumphs.