Recently, I switched my TV provider service from a cable company to DirecTV. I’m absolutely thrilled with the change for several reasons:
1. DirecTV has a free app that lets me watch live TV on my iPad – how cool is that?!
2. DirectTV saved me over $60 a month from what I was paying my other provider.
3. DirecTV has a great channel called the “NFL Red Zone” that monitors every pro football game simultaneously and shows all of the key scoring plays as they happen – without any commercial interruption. It’s like watching non-stop action for hours!
As you can tell, I’ve become a big fan of DirecTV. Why do I tell you all this? My enthusiasm reveals the hidden power that propels word-of-mouth. I am volunteering to tell you about my great experience with DirecTV, because they gave me numerous reasons to talk. I naturally want to tell others about the cool features that I’m now enjoying. I’m spreading word-of-mouth for DirecTV because they made me excited enough to tell others.
If you’re an author, business executive, or non-profit director, what are you doing to give your readers a reason to talk about your books, products, or services? Word-of-mouth doesn’t spread by itself. You literally have to give people legitimate reasons to tell someone else about your product or service. If you don’t, no one will say anything. And, you’ll wonder why your sales don’t grow.
On the other hand, if you give people a reason to spread word-of-mouth, they will do it naturally. Then, you’ll have a bonafide marketing wildfire on your hands. What do people need in order to spread word-of-mouth? Let’s look at the concept from five different angles:
1. Emotion – This word-of-mouth category refers to an experience that feels so enjoyable, thrilling, or meaningful that people believe your book, product, or service was a worthwhile use of their time. Appreciative customers and readers will openly make comments, such as “That book made me laugh out loud, cry so hard, stay up late, read without stopping, etc.” Their emotions compel them to share the experience with someone else.
2. Uniqueness – This category is defined by a distinctive topic, writing style, or unusual point of view that hasn’t been covered before or radically confronts people’s preconceptions. For instance, an appreciative book reader might make a comment, such as, “This book blew my mind” or a donor to a non-profit might remark, “I’ve never seen an organization change someone’s life like this before.”
3. Instructional / Results – This category applies to items, such as non-fiction self-help books, textbooks, and reference guides. Appreciative readers will spread word-of-mouth with remarks, such as, “This book explains the answer better than I can tell you or teach you” or “You could really use a copy of this book.”
4. Shock Value – This category refers to a story or written account that pushes past the typical limits of tradition, religion, humor, confidentiality, etc. Appreciative readers will tell others, “This book really spills the beans” or “You won’t believe the stuff that I just heard.”
5. Price – This category tends to have the least affect on word-of-mouth. Yet, the influence can still be tangible, especially when coupled with one of the other four categories. Deep price discounts or limited-time deals can encourage people to tell friends, “This book is quite a bargain. Don’t miss your chance to get a copy.”
As you examine these word-of-mouth categories, where does your product or service fit? Do you give people a valid reason to tell their friends? Usually, you can tell when word-of-mouth is active, because the conversation will be identifiable either offline and/or online. For instance, in the offline world, there will be actual conversations that happen between friends, relatives, or business acquaintances. People will volunteer to tell others about you out of their own motivation. And, you’ll know it when people will send you fan mail, like something you posted on Facebook, sing your praises at an event, or contact your organization just to say how much they appreciate what you do.
In the online world, you can track word-of-mouth by seeing when people freely post positive comments about your product or service on their blogs, Facebook pages, or Twitter accounts. They might also willingly write a positive review on Amazon, or mention you on their website or email newsletter. Google offers a free service called “Google Alerts” that lets you track when your name, organization, book title, or product is mentioned by someone else on the Internet.
Word-of-mouth isn’t a mysterious process that happens randomly. Instead, it happens according to rational principles that affect everyone. Your job is to write a book, create a product, or offer a service that people will naturally want to discuss. Use the five categories above to help identify which style best generates word-of-mouth for you. If you want people to spread the word, you’ve got to give them a reason to talk.
This isn’t the end of Rob’s word of mouth secrets. Click here to read Part 2.