How Familiarity Breeds Business a.k.a. the power of word of mouth

When you talk about marketing your small business, what you’re really talking about is communicating what it is your small business does for prospective customers or clients.

However, marketing is MORE than just communication – it’s communication that inspires action.

Marketing = Communication that moves people to action

In my book, Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results, I spend a LOT of time covering how important it is for you to get to know your customers.    Getting to know your target audience is a vitally important part of creating a compelling and selling marketing message.  After all, if you don’t know to whom you are speaking – how can you communicate in a way that moves people to action?

One way some business owners try to “get around” this whole ugly “target market identification” is to rely upon the most coveted of marketing tactics to promote their business – word of mouth marketing.

While having your customers spreading the word about what your business does is every business owners idea of nirvana – word of mouth marketing doesn’t just “happen”.  In fact, a lot of thought goes into laying the proper foundation for a successful word of mouth marketing campaign.

Laying the foundation for your Word of Mouth Marketing Campaign

When you start thinking of marketing less like “selling” and more like other forms of communication, a lot of factors start to fall easily into place.

Note: If you want to make a real MESS of social media – treat social networking tools like a sales call instead of a cocktail party!

Marketing communication is really not so very different than striking up a conversation at a cocktail party.  Part of cocktail party etiquette includes making a proper introduction of yourself.  However, in the case of marketing communications it’s not considered bad form to include an introduction of your services as well.

This introduction is called many things.  Some circles call it an elevator speech while authors would call it creating a great “back story”.  Whatever name you use, creating this introductory piece is an essential part of laying a foundation for your word of mouth campaign.

Brian Clark wrote a truly profound article on How Word of Mouth Marketing Really Works where he points out that the KEY to creating successful word of mouth marketing is to create a story that your customers want to tell.

An essential part of creating a story your customers want to tell is to give them a proper introduction to your business.

Let’s go back to the cocktail party.  You’re laughing, drinking and having a wonderful time when “that guy” corners you.  There’s no introduction – no pleasantries  – he thrusts his business card upon you and launches into his hard closing sales spiel.

EWWWW!!!!!

You want to run.  This guy doesn’t know you and you certainly don’t want to get to know him any better.  The same principle holds true when you’re striking up a conversation with prospective customers.  A natural part of the process is introducing yourself to your customers.

When you’re blogging, you do that on your “about” page.  The “about” page on any business website or blog is a very popular destination for prospective customers.

So while it’s important to become familiar with your customers -knowing who they are and what problems they need to solve, you must also be sure that they become just as familiar with you.

Jason Alba, the founder of Jibber Jobber, understands how important building familiarity is to building his business.  Meridith Levinson wrote about Jason in the article, How a Job Search Led Jason Alba to Start JibberJobber, and shares the story of how Jason went from aspiring CIO to unemployed “geek” to successful entrepreneur.  When the story is published, Jason notices that sign ups for Jibber Jobber have increased.

Word of mouth marketing is simply when people tell the story of your product or service for you. PR is what happens when the person telling the story is a journalist.

Jason has been building “familiarity” with his target audience ever since he launched his business.  One important tool he’s been using to tell this story is his blog.  The story of how Jibber Jobber came to be is told often in his posts such as, Happy January 13th! Guess what’s special about today?

Jason has carefully crafted a story that is easy for others to pick up and tell – whether they’re journalists, job seekers or career coaches. Notice how the story not only tells the problems Jibber Jobber helps to “solve” but how it also offers assurance to his target audience (job seekers)  that Jason “gets it”.  He knows what works – and what doesn’t in a job search and he has created a tool to make job searching better!

By creating such an appealing “back story”, he has laid the necessary foundation to create a powerful word of mouth marketing campaign.

Part of crafting your story is knowing who your target customers are.  Once you get familiar with your target audience, be sure that they become just as familiar with you.  Crafting your business introduction is perhaps one of the most important marketing tasks you’ll undertake.

If you don’t think your business has a “story”, try answering these questions:

  • How did your business get started?
  • If yours is a family business, why did your ancestors get into this line of work?
  • What problems were you trying to solve when you bought or launched your business?

To work as hard as you do, there must be a compelling reason for doing what you’ve chosen do for a living. The story of how your business came into existence can create a great foundation for a word of mouth marketing campaign.

What’s the story behind the launch of your business and/or blog?

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Kathy. There is always a story. Once upon a time…

    My blog started out pretty much overnight after taking a 1-day course on SEO. I flounced out of that course and promptly started a free blog with WordPress.com. I did this to start exercising the idea as I’d heard it was a good way to build up on online presence, and because I enjoyed writing. It was pretty much a personal blog until my business vision became clearer.

    My current business was started after being laid of from my job as a proofreader in 2007. I took a self-employment program, started a nutrition consulting business — while failing that I enrolled in a life coach training course. I’ve never looked back… or down 🙂 (well, maybe some days).

    Davinas last blog post..Blog + Comment = Win

  2. says

    great article Kathy. Word of Mouth is definitely a great way to promote your products if its done the right way. It has to be the right way and that is what is so hard about it and why so few people manage to pull off successful Word of Mouth campaigns.

    By the way have you read Word of Mouth Marketing? It is a great book with lots of important insights on the topic.

  3. Kathy says

    Davina,
    I love a good story! I was just telling the story of your Loving Pulse blog’s success today to a new client!

    Julius,
    No, I haven’t read it yet. I should!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Conversations about products and services  have been going on since humans first began to communicate.  Eons ago, Caveman Joe and his friends sat around the fire trading stories of where the best hunting sites were.  Fast forward in time and a decade ago neighbors would trade tales of which neighborhood dentist is good and which one is not so good at the PTA meeting.  (This was known as word of mouth advertising.) […]

  2. […] to promote their business.  My daughter heard about the spa from someone with whom she works.  Word of mouth marketing worked once – but the buzz of the new discovery is over and my daughter ended up spending just as […]