A Sustainable Design Blog
How To Get Word-of-Mouth Promotions
I never realized how powerful word of mouth marketing is until I saw how it affected me. After a month researching phones in preparation for getting my very first smartphone, I had firmly decided upon on a Samsung. I called my brother, Jeff, an expert in all things Android and mentioned my phone choice. His reply was, “No, you need to get an HTC Droid Incredible II”. A year later guess which phone is sitting next to my keyboard? An HTC Droid Incredible II. The fact is that word-of-mouth marketing is proven to be powerful. My story is one of millions like it. So the question that most companies want to know is how to make it work for them?
When it comes to Word-of-Mouth marketing, the only thing you need to focus on is respect. Win over those people who are a respected authority with a loyal following and you win over they’re adoring audience, and those that adore their audience members. You do this by making a quality product that fills their needs/demands, and you get it into their hands.
In my own example, I had been reading blogs that I found by Googling around. I had read various blogs, some which seemed credible, others I doubted. I didn’t necessarily understand all of the specs and features being listed, but I made a decision based on what seemed important. But these blogs didn’t have my respect. I formed my own opinion as an aggregate of various people’s information. It was the respect I had for my brother, Jeff, that won overall. What you as the marketer have to do is figure out who is influencing my brother.
As intelligent as he may be, Jeff isn’t testing all of these phones himself (though he sure would love to be a tester:). He’s reading blogs and listening to podcasts from knowledgable experts. His own knowledge of the subject (read: geekiness) helps him decipher which blogs are the most valuable. And being seen as an authority by neophytes like myself, my mother, his wife, my father, and probably a large handful of his friends, Jeff has single-handedly influenced the purchasing decisions of a large contingent of cell phone customers.
Jeff talks to those close to him about which phones to buy, but he listens to those who talk to everyone, who broadcast their opinions and content. So who are the bloggers, podcasters, journalists, tweeters, and charismatic enthusiasts in your industry? How do you find them?
Start by thinking like a customer. Why does someone want to buy your product? Do they have a question (is seaweed healthy)? An issue (reduce wrinkles naturally)? A desire (eco-friendly spa vacation)? Type that into Google’s search and see if any blogs pop up. If not, click on Blogs to search those directly. You can do the same thing in major blog sites like Wordpress.com. Search your industry in the iTunes podcast library. Try searching Twitter for hot topics like #organic, #ecofashion, #naturalskin, etc. to see who’s talking and how many followers they have.
Once you find some candidates, analyze the quality of their reviews. Look for those that do a good job of explaining a product first, including it’s features and what those features are good for. Only after the explanation should they give an opinion about why it’s good or bad. This can make a huge difference (see Don’t fear a bad critique, below).
Then create a press kit. Once you know who are the valuable, unofficial authorities in your industry it’s time to get your product in their hands. This is not cheap, but it’s cheaper (and often more effective) than year-long national advertisements and commercials. Your press kit should be designed like a complete package, a gift that is interesting from the moment it arrives, to the unveiling of the product, to the info packet/brochure/catalog that comes with it. You want your press kit to say “I am a great company, with a great product, and as an awesome person who I respect and admire, I’d be honored to have your opinion of my product.”
Just don’t fear a bad critique. You can’t control this person’s opinion. Perhaps they didn’t find it impressive/tasty/effective, but if you’ve chosen your critic well, they will have explained your product well enough that they allow a person to make their own decision. How many times have you dismissed a bad review about a restaurant because the person criticized something that doesn’t matter to you? If someone says that you’re cakes are too dense, that just encourages someone like me, a dense cake lover, to come to your store. And if they give you a bad critique that's fair, thank them for the feedback and promise to improve, then send them the improvement. It will give you good press and earn their respect. Ultimately, having a great product means you’ll have nothing to fear.
Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.