Monday, November 26, 2007

Word of Mouth Marketing is Big Business

According to a recent article in the Boston Business Journal, word of mouth marketing is the Next Big Thing - so much so that companies are investing over a billion dollars collectively on word-of-mouth campaigns, in a trend that's only expected to increase soon.

But you already knew that.

Let's face it: what makes you buy? Certainly, commercials and ads have their place, but people are more likely to buy something if they hear its praises from someone they know and trust. Your friends, current clients, colleagues - all of them can provide great word of mouth for your business (and much cheaper than paying an ad agency to get it for you) - as long as you give them some guidance about a) what to say, and b) who to say it to.

Now, the basic idea behind this isn't about creating some puppet orchestra amongst your friends; it's about helping folks understand what you really do and what kind of folks you want to be doing it for. It's marketing 101 - know your audience.

For example, let's say that I have a client that I do some basic production for, but not much creative. I love working with her, and would love to get some referrals to grow my business. But she doesn't really know what I do - the zen kitchen specializes in identity and marketing design, not in production - so, in order to get the most qualified referrals from my client, I need to let her know the range of services I offer, and the average pricing for those services, so that she can refer me to clients who need the specific services I want to offer my clients.

So what do I do? I take her to lunch, talk about what I do, and ask her if she knows any business owners who are looking to invest in quality identity design and marketing to grow their business. If I get referrals, that's great. If I don't, I had a nice lunch. But, now she knows what I really do, and she can more likely spot a good potential client, which works well for both of us.

The same idea, by the way, goes for family and friends - while we love them, they don't always understand what it is you really do. One friend of mine consistently calls me a "webbie" and keeps referring anything and everything Web-related my way, even though I have to outsource Flash and any type of programming applications. By letting folks know the TYPE of leads you're looking for, you get much better leads.

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