Have You Made Your Word-of-Mouth Campaign Checklist?string(52) "Have You Made Your Word-of-Mouth Campaign Checklist?"

If you want to develop an effective word-of-mouth campaign, you’ll need to have an arsenal of credibility-enhancing materials at your disposal to make the most of every networking opportunity.

Below is a checklist of items you may already have available or wish to begin assembling, which can be used as collateral materials in developing your desired image. 

  • Testimonial letters from satisfied clients
  • Photos of yourself and your office facilities, equipment and products
  • Photos of your key customers
  • Photos of awards and certificates you and your staff have earned
  • Articles in which you’re mentioned
  • Articles you have published
  • A one-page, faxable flier
  • Audio or videos you have used
  • Any of your new-product announcements or press releases that have been published
  • Copies of other display advertisements that you’ve used (text from radio or TV spots)
  • Advertisements that you’ve run
  • A list of your memberships and affiliations
  • Product catalogs you use
  • Current brochures, circulars and data sheets
  • Question-and-answer sheets
  • Logos, trademarks, service marks, patterns, designs you’ve used
  • Your letterhead and stationery
  • Your annual report, capability statement and prospectus
  • Newsletters or news-type publications you use
  • Your motto, mission statement or service pledge
  • Client or customer proposals and bid sheets
  • Survey results by you or others
  • Presentation notes or slides and PowerPoint presentations
  • Marketing letters you wrote to clients
  • Generic materials developed by your associations
  • Articles on trends affecting your target market
  • Posters, banners and display materials used at trade shows

Be sure to store your networking materials in a bin or a set of shelves built to make it easy to retrieve frequently used documents.  This equipment greatly aids any company’s word-of-mouth campaign and ability to respond quickly when necessary.

Note:  This is not a complete list of items needed to market your business.  The items in this list are focused on enhancing your networking activities.

Three Essential Questionsstring(25) "Three Essential Questions"

How can a time-strapped businessperson figure out which networking events she should attend and which she should let go by the wayside? 

The answer: Develop a networking strategy.

Here are three easy–but definitely essential–questions you need to answer in order to create a plan that will work for you. 

Who Are My Best Prospects? 
It’s important to know that each target market will have a strategy that requires you to network in different places. If you’re not sure who your target market is, look at your list of past clients. What industries were they in? How long had they been in business? Were your clients even businesses to begin with, or have you worked mostly with consumers?

Once you’ve put together a profile of your past clients, ask people close to you for patterns you may have overlooked and get their input on who might be a good fit for your business.

Where Can I Meet My Best Prospects?
As you begin targeting specific niche markets, there are other venues and opportunities that fall outside the typical networking event.  Here are some examples of specific target markets and where you should network to find people in these markets:

Small-business owners–chamber of commerce, local business association, referral groups

Representatives from big corporations in your area–service clubs, nonprofit groups, volunteer work, homeowners associations

Consumers–your kids’ events: Little League, Boy Scouts and so forth

Whom, Exactly, Do I Want To Meet?
Even if you can’t name the people you want to meet, the better you can descibe them, the greater the chance you’ll get to meet your ideal contact.

Be as specific as possible when asking for a contact because it focuses the other person’s attention on details that are more likely to remind him of a specific person rather than if you asked, “Do you know anyone who needs my services?”

Networking works.  It’s just a matter of developing a strategy that puts you in contact with the right people. That’s exactly what the three questions above will help you do.

Getting Your Name Written on the Board Can Be Goodstring(50) "Getting Your Name Written on the Board Can Be Good"

In my last blog I promised you that this week I’d tell you a story about the way someone once recognized me that kept me wanting to refer him over and over.  Well, here goes . . .

A few years ago, I visited my chiropractor for a routine adjustment.  Several weeks before, I had referred him to a friend who had recently been in an accident.  As I walked into the waiting room, my eyes fell on a bulletin board that was displayed prominently on the wall.  The bulletin board read, “We would like to thank the following patients for referring someone to us last month.”

Actually, there was nothing unusual about this sign.  It had been there on each of my previous visits–but this time, my name was posted on it.  I took notice and was pleased, but I didn’t give it a second thought, until I returned a month later and saw that my name was no longer on it.  Instantly I thought, Who else can I refer to the doctor so that my name will be put back on the board?

For the record, my name has consistently been on that board for the better part of three years now . . . and I plan on having it stay there.  🙂

The Nature of a Referral Relationshipstring(37) "The Nature of a Referral Relationship"

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

5 Laws and 5 Flaws of Conversation from ‘The Mingling Maven’string(72) "5 Laws and 5 Flaws of Conversation from ‘The Mingling Maven’"

My good friend Susan RoAne recently joined me as a fellow member of the iLearningGlobal.tv faculty and, as I was talking to her about the content she plans to contribute to the iLearningGlobal.tv website, I was suddenly struck with the memory of a great section from her book, How to Work a Room, which talks about casual conversation when networking.

If you have a chance to read the book, I highly recommend it because there are tons of great networking tips throughout the entire book. Not only will you get a great education on networking, you’ll be laughing from beginning to end. That’s one thing anyone who has met Susan knows about her–she’s hilarious!

However, since my blog isn’t supposed to be about my friend Susan’s witty sense of humor (Maybe I’ll start a blog devoted to that later . . . kidding, Susan! :)) and it IS supposed to be about helping you become a better networker, I’ll go ahead and let the excerpt from How to Work a Room which I’ve been alluding to tell you about the five laws and five flaws of conversation:

Five Fundamental Laws of Casual Conversation

  • Be a conversational chameleon. Adapt conversation to the individual by age, interest, profession.
  • Be a name dropper. Always mention the names of people or places you could have in common.
  • Borrow other people’s lives. Share the stories, comments and quips of your friends who have kids, have websites, are tai kwon do students, are Xtreme athletes, have opera tickets–even if you don’t.
  • Be a two-timer. Give people a second chance.
  • Be nice to everyone. Don’t judge tomorrow’s book by today’s cover.

Fatal Flaws of Casual Conversation

  • Being unprepared by not reading papers, trade journals and information sources
  • Controlling conversations by asking a barrage of questions, no matter how open-ended, or telling a nonstop series of jokes
  • Complaining (kvetching); bragging
  • One-upping/competing, interrupting, not listening, slinging put-downs
  • Offering unsolicited feedback

Get Engaged . . .string(17) "Get Engaged . . ."

Get engaged in the conversation, that is! OK, OK . . . now that I have your attention, let me explain.

In my book Truth or Delusion I bring up the point that word-of-mouth marketing is always working, it just may not be working in your favor. Believe it or not, you’re getting word of mouth every day. It just may not be the kind you’re thinking of–the good kind. The thing is, negative word of mouth has legs and the average dissatisfied customer gripes to 11 people about his experience, and these 11 in turn tell five others apiece.

Therefore, you need to get engaged in the networking process and the resulting conversation by formulating a strategic plan to control what’s being said about you. Among other things, this is done by focusing on good customer service to reduce negative word-of-mouth and ensuring that your marketing message is conveyed accurately so your prospects know what to expect.

It’s especially important to be engaged in the conversation when it comes to online networking. Take the headline of this blog, for example. Say somebody were to see it, not read the rest of the blog, and then begin posting comments on blogs and social networking sites all over the web claiming that “Ivan Misner has a new blog urging people everywhere to get married!”

You may be laughing, but occurrences like I just described happen all the time. And guess what? If you’re one of those people who refuses to get involved in “that online/social networking stuff,” then you aren’t engaged in the conversations that are being had about you online. And when somebody says something negative or incorrect about you or your business, you can’t redirect the conversation in a positive direction to save face or correct what’s been wrongly stated about you.

Whether networking online or face-to-face, the dialogue is going to happen with or without you. The basic point is, if you don’t participate in the conversation, you’re not in control whatsoever. If you do participate, then you can publicly say who you are and steer the conversation in a positive way.

Check out this recent blog entry by my friend Dave Goetz, “They are Laughing at You.” It’s a perfect illustration of everything I’ve talked about in this blog and it tells a GREAT story about a college professor who refused to engage his students in any way as he endlessly lectured to them for hours. It’s no surprise that the students found a way to engage each other in conversation during class but the professor lost all control of what topics were being focused on as well as what was being said . . . Like I said, the dialogue will happen with or without you.

Word of Mouth, a Growing Segment in Advertisingstring(47) "Word of Mouth, a Growing Segment in Advertising"

According to a recent PQ Media research report, many major brands are increasing their word-of-mouth marketing campaigns despite the worst recession in decades.

Last year, companies increased their word of mouth advertising efforts by more than 14 percent, to more than $1.54 billion. Furthermore, according to the report, spending on WOM campaigns is expected to reach as much as $3 billion by the year 2013.

PQ Media defines WOM marketing as “an alternative marketing strategy supported by research and technology, which encourages consumers to dialogue about products and services through various online and offline tactics, often facilitated by brand ambassadors.”

“The most invluential marketer in a consumer’s life is someone they know and trust, such as a family member, friend or colleague,” according to Patrick Quinn, president & CEO of PQ Media.

Developing WOM communities both online and offline is part of an emerging trend. What are you doing to participate in this trend? I’d love to hear your feedback on this important and growing element in business.

1 8 9 10