Research credits “word of mouth” as being capable of generating double the sales of paid advertising. Virgin Mobile—a cellular service catering to the youth market—employs this “create the buzz” strategy, claiming, “This generation, more so than previous ones, gets lots and lots of their brand preferences through peers… We need our customers to be our marketers.
Peer influence is a potent tool. Why do you think a company like Disney is willing to stamp its priceless logo on affordable-to-the masses T-shirts; the Skechers logo on kids’ shoes light up or twinkle with every footfall; and Apple creates viral videos featuring youth using their products?
Successful industries know their market because they’ve done their research. Many companies hire “kid engineers,” invite children for brainstorming “kideation” sessions, utilize kid consultant programs, involve children extensively in research, product design and evaluation, as well as peer market their products at the end of the process.
A successful strategy can be used in any arena, be it secular or sacred. Two great examples of how we are leveraging word of mouth as a powerfully effective evangelism tool are through the Know My Story and Hope for Kids programs.
Know My Story (KMS)
Despite Italy’s daily “religion hour” in the public schools, our Spiritual State of the World’s Children Research showed that familiarity with the traditional faith of the nation was in fact divorcing students from relevantly applying it to everyday life.
Realizing that stories in the Bible were being perceived as theory to be learned instead of lessons to be lived, we developed a special edition Book of Hope called La Mia Storia (My Story) to clearly communicate the dynamics of a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Although the response to this booklet was amazing, we needed to go one step further.
Tapping into the peer-to-peer model, we produced the Know My Story Book of Hope. This resource contains personal testimonies, a for-kids by-kids product that intentionally leverages the idea of “who better to speak to kids than… kids themselves?”
The Know My Story program has seen great success—gaining momentum in both the print and digital spaces. On the KMS website, you can view powerful personal testimonies and also download resources like the Know My Story Book complete with Gospel presentation and an invitation for users to make a decision for Jesus. Take a look at one of the stories here:
Hope for Kids program
Peer-to-peer evangelism is especially effective in oral cultures like Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and other tribal regions around the world.
That’s why we have partnered with Evangelism Explosion to create the Hope for Kids program. It not only clarifies the Gospel for children, but trains and encourages them to competently and confidently witness to others in hopes that they, too, might come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
In Ghana, the Hope for Kids program begins with visually stunning drama and songs that share the Gospel message. Next, it moves into a relational aspect where children are mentored in small groups of peers where together they experience the material, and are empowered to learn how to share and multiply their faith using the Pathway to Hope booklet. Each child’s goal is to share the Pathway book and the Gospel message with 10 peers.
It is important that we train our children to share not only the Gospel, but also their personal story of salvation. To impress on them the Bible’s mandate to spread the Gospel message, and that evangelism starts in their youth.
How are you training children to leverage their influence through peer-to-peer evangelism by telling their story?