I love that line. It’s one of my favorite marketing quotes from Andy Sernovitz’s insightful book, “Word of Mouth Marketing.” My translation for Andy’s point is that if you have to advertise, it’s because you stink at creating word of mouth. Your message is too boring to get people to talk about it.
When people won’t talk about your product or service, then you have to get in their face and interrupt them with advertising. And buying ad space can get quite expensive. Which would you rather have? Free word of mouth or paid advertising that people ignore?
Getting people to turn into word of mouth warriors is a two-step process:
1. Give something worth talking about
2. Give free tools that make sharing word of mouth easy
The hard part is the first step – giving people something worth talking about. You’ve got to get people’s attention and this is where most individuals and organizations fall short. They allow marketing messages to be delivered with boring titles. For example, I see boring book titles, boring email newsletter subject lines, boring free resource titles, boring Facebook posts, boring press releases, etc.
Most marketing is too boring because there isn’t enough time or creativity put into the process. Don’t just give something a title. Spend the extra time to create whopper titles and test them on other people to see which gets the biggest reaction. Then, take the second step to provide tools that ease the sharing process, such as sharing links for social media, “Forward to a Friend” buttons on your newsletter or website pages, and simply saying “Please share this with your friends.”
One of my consulting projects has been managing the Boundaries book series. We’ve successfully created word of mouth by turning content from 20-year-old books into must-read material that people enjoy. I’m happy to say the Boundaries email newsletter has an average open rate over 37% and a click-through rate over 8%, which is double the industry average. We get people’s attention by creating titles that generate curiosity. How can you ignore these spicy titles?
- The Two Types of Liars
- How Happiness Can Hurt Your Marriage
- Setting Boundaries with Sins of Your Family
- How to Handle Guilt Message from Your Mom
- Why Good People Pick Bad Relationships
- How to Forgive When It’s Hard to Forget
- The Secret to Changing Your Spouse
These memorable titles get people’s attention, give them something worth talking about, and lead to higher sharing with friends. More importantly, we’re seeing word of mouth generate increased book sales.
If people aren’t buying your book, donating to your non-profit, or purchasing your services, your marketing may be too boring. Give people a reason to talk about you. Otherwise, there are plenty of advertising reps who would be happy to talk with you.
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