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?

Word of Mouth Marketing- Turns out what you don’t know CAN hurt you

Word of mouth marketing – it’s the holy grail for small business owners.  In the world of Web 2.0, word of mouth advertising is sometimes known as “viral marketing“. In any case, word of mouth advertising is where you rely on your satisfied customers to spread the word about your products or services.

Word of mouth marketing is a GREAT way to build a business when the message being carried by your customers is positive.   Heck, there is even Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association dedicated to promoting this method of marketing and advertising!

I have a love/hate relationship with word of mouth marketing.  I love that it’s powerful, it’s effective and best of all, it’s cheap!  I’ve built my business solely upon word of mouth marketing – which is the definition of irony because I help small business owners as a marketing consultant and I warn my clients NOT to rely solely upon Word of Mouth Marketing as their sole promotion tool to promote their business because ….

WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING SUCKS WHEN SOMEONE IS BAD MOUTHING YOUR SERVICES

Tomorrow marks the 4 week anniversary of the extraction of my wisdom tooth.  Unfortunately, this is a tale of how important trust can be when it comes to word of mouth marketing – especially when you’re  building a business and a brand.

My tale begins in classic Word of Mouth Marketing fashion.  I was asking friends if they knew of a good dentist and  I was referred to Southport Dental Clinic in Port St Lucie, FL.

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