Wednesday, September 30, 2009

 

People are talking behind your back (and that's good)

Guest Contributor: Scott Neilson, CEO/Founder of FundBunch

This is the second in a two-part series from Scott on word-of-mouth marketing. Read part one here.

By now, you’ve given people something so interesting about your organization and easy to articulate that people want to talk. It will happen naturally, but there are things you can do to speed up the process.

Find the Talkers
Certain individuals love to talk. Many are often well connected. In Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Tipping Point, he describes them as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Find these people and give them the white glove treatment.

Send them product samples. Give them advance copies or previews of your product. Surprise and Delight them. Thank them for their business. Trust me. They will talk. You will most likely know who these people are. If you need help here are some tricks.

Are you part of a social network, like Facebook or LinkedIn? These are the folks that have twice as many ‘friends’ or ‘contacts’ as you. Their wallet is stuffed with business cards and they are always handing out theirs. You have now found the talkers.

Make it easy for people to talk
On your website, place a ‘Refer a Friend’ link and a newsletter sign up prominently. These are two of the easiest ways to let the talkers do their work.

Send out an eNewsletter to your customers (but only if they have opted in). In the newsletter, invite them to forward it to colleagues who may be interested. Better yet, include a nice story or joke within the newsletter so it will be forwarded.

When you mail anything to your customers, include not one, but multiple business cards or brochures. I’ve even gone so far as to include two offers in a single Direct Marketing piece. The additional offer typically ends up in the hands of a friend or family member.

Lastly, include your web address in the signature of your email. Do you know how often your emails get forwarded and to whom? Now they know about your organization and how to find you!

Join in the conversation
Don’t sit on the sideline and be passive in letting Word of Mouth to happen. Engage in it. People are probably already talking about you online. It’s easy to find out.

Just setup a Google Alert or check Technorati for the latest blog posts. If people are saying nice things, thank them. It only reinforces for everyone to see the great things they heard. If someone is less than flattering, you have the opportunity to publicly fix the problem and show the world you are proactive in addressing customer issues.

Don’t be afraid to blog or use social networks as well. Keep conversations open and involved. But remember, you are an organization that treats customers with respect. So when engaging in online conversation, always be open about who you are and who you represent. The Web Community is very savvy. If you are spoofing people, they will find out and the results won’t be pretty.

You now have a great foundation to engage in Word of Mouth marketing. It’s time to put together a plan, make it easy for the conversations to take place, and get them started!

For additional resources, I encourage you to visit:
www.heinzmarketing.com
www.guykawasaki.com
www.gaspedal.com

Read: Word of Mouth Marketing, by Andy Sernowitz. (AKA the Bible of Word of Mouth)

Scott Neilson is the CEO/Founder of FundBunch, which provides tools and services to allow individuals and organizations to be more effective in their online fundraising efforts. You can reach him at scottn@fundbunch.com or visit his site at www.fundbunch.com

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