Modern Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Advantages and Techniques

This Guest Post is by Tara Hornor of Creative Content Experts

There was a time when word of mouth marketing could only move at the speed of human speech. Business owners handed out stacks of business cards to customers for their referral program. Neighbors leaned over fences to discuss the finer points of various products and services. Life was about keeping up with the Joneses. Oh, how times have changed.

Radio and television sped up this marketing technique significantly. Word of mouth marketing grew exponentially as use of the Internet became more popular. Now word of mouth marketing moves at the speed of social media, which sometimes seems faster than the speed of light.

Consumers are more likely to make a purchase or use a service if the product or service has positive reviews from family members, friends, acquaintances, even fellow consumers who are otherwise strangers. While word-of-mouth marketing sometimes just happens, there are a few techniques you can employ to help encourage and speed up the process.

Here are a few of the advantages of Web and social media powered word-of-mouth marketing follow by some useful tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.

Can’t Avoid Word of Mouth Marketing

Studies confirm that word of mouth marketing drives 20-50 percent of purchase decisions. First time purchases are especially affected. Purchases that offer a higher risk benefit the most from word of mouth exposure because consumers have much more at stake. For example, if your company is new, try to get some reviews of your products. This acts as a word of mouth reference for peers.

Consumers trust friends more than ad campaigns. Of course, circles of trust now include virtual friends as well as real friends. Word of mouth marketing offers businesses a host of tangible benefits, including:

Stand Out in the Crowd

Consumers are faced with abundant choices. Everyone is competing to be heard. Word of mouth marketing silences the competitors more easily by using trusted recommendations. This is where reviews, Twitter tweets, and Facebook posts about your products and services are priceless.

Leverage Authorities

Savvy business owners who cultivate and nurture relationships with influential bloggers and commenters can leverage their authority. With the right tools and incentives, businesses can turn influencers into brand advocates. Having an influencer who authentically puts their weight behind your products and services can easily be the difference between a sale and a click away from your site.

Speed Up Sales

Word of mouth marketing enables consumers to decide faster. Input from trusted sources allows consumers to put aside any reservations and take a chance on a new product or service. Instead of “thinking about it” and maybe coming back to your site, with some word of mouth support an immediate sale is far more likely.

Modern Word of Mouth Advertising 101

The Internet offers an almost infinite number of hubs for virtual meetings to occur. Today’s version of the “fence out back” encompasses the entire world. Businesses can create virtual storefronts and communities for visitors to socialize in. The corner store has now housed itself in social media. Businesses can easily build brands by following a few simple word of mouth marketing techniques:

  • Put audience interests in the forefront by engaging them with interesting posts and updates.
  • Use photos and videos to show audiences, instead of telling.
  • Design all content around the interests of the target market, focus on their agenda, nor yours.
  • Show people using products, not just product still life images.
  • Integrate reviews, likes, shares, and tweets from various social media resources.
  • Encourage customers to write reviews on your site as well as via review sites such as Yelp.
  • Provide incentives for reviews, both negative and positive, such as a discount or free gift.
  • Make sure to include negative reviews with the positive, as this validates reviews.

Bonus resource: If you want more info on how to engage “influential talkers,” here’s a useful educational video via WordofMouth.org -> Ant’s Eye View’s Jake McKee on how to work with influential talkers

The typical social media user has an average audience of 100 or more. For the average person, that’s 4 times the immediate influence than in days gone by. Word travels much faster than it used to. Therefore, get customers excited about and involved in your company by engaging them on social media sites, your website, and blogs with interesting and helpful information.

Social media tools provide an excellent vehicle for businesses to connect with more consumers more efficiently. The modern water cooler conversation now takes place on social media sites and through product reviews. So get involved with your customers on these sites and be a part of the conversation. As the buzz around your business grows, keep an eye out for an increase in sales to increase alongside of your success with word of mouth marketing.


Tara Hornor has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online full color printing for business cards, catalogs, posters, brochures, and promotional postcards. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.

NEW “Wonderful Web” ENews: “New is New Again”

The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:

  • It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
  • New Marketing in Another New Era
  • Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
  • Make Your Marketing More Effective
  • New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
  • Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
  • New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
  • Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
  • Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.

Social Media Goes Visual: Why Pinterest is More Than You Think

NextGen Social Media

Pinterest is much more than the latest and greatest “hot” new social network. Because of it’s visual nature, I believe that this upstart social network reflects the next generation of socially networked communication. In the current and coming stages of the evolution of the Web’s social revolution, the written word is no longer sufficient.

In case you haven’t tried it yet, Pinterest is essentially an online vision board. It lets people “pin” images that they find inspiring, useful or beautiful and then share their collections of images—called “Boards”—with others. When people “re-pin” the images, they are essentially “retweeting” or sharing visual communications in a state-of-the-art social media style.

This naturally compliments the ways that video and photo sharing have become majorly important. In fact, the array of visual communication innovation that we are seeing right now is indicative of the dawn of a new age. The web has quickly become a more dynamic visual medium. Text and hyperlinks were a foundation, but only a beginning. And we are still in the early stages.

Let’s Get Visual!

This trend isn’t new, but it does make a big difference. For example, Facebook power users know that when you share pictures, not just text updates, it fuels increased engagement in a big way. In other words, you get more “Likes” and comments when there’s a visual component to what you post.

Elsewhere, Tumblr has extended the Twitter-powered popularity of micro-blogging in a much more visual direction, and the popularity of using Instagram to share and talk about photographs is also surging (and is poised for major new expansion when the Android version of the Instagram app is released soon). ReadWriteWeb even reminds us that it is this mobile-phone-powered digital photography trend that slew the former photo corporate dragon: Death by Smartphone: How Mobile Photography Helped Kill Kodak.”

And then there’s YouTube which recently announced that 24 hours of video is uploaded to their site every twenty-four seconds. The video visual media explosion is so dramatic that YouTube itself produced this quick little 45-second video in an attempt to make its mind-boggling growth comprehendible:

If doesn’t clarify this explosion for you, Time Magazine recently ran an article, The Beast with a Billion Eyes, which characterizes YouTube as “the most rapidly growing force in human history.”

Blogger/consultant/author Jay Baer  says: 

“This is the year that photos challenge writing as the lingua franca of the social webIf you’re not taking and posting pictures to dedicated photo networks and cross-posting (when appropriate) to Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your network and see the world through the eyes (or cell phone cameras) of thousands of new friends.”

The fact that the verb “pinning” has been showing up in conversations that aren’t even specific to Pinterest is a huge testament to the fact that people are captivated. If you think about how many times a day the verb to “google” is used to mean “search,” you can see that we’re on to something.

Why Is This Important for Business?

According to the Wall Street Journal, traffic to the Pinterest website has grown tenfold over the past six months. In January, the number of visitors on Pinterest was already almost a third of that on Twitter.

But Pinterest’s impact of web traffic may be even greater than Twitter’s. Based on a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+ (with 100 million users!), Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. Those are big-time numbers for the new kid on the block.

But, is there really room for another player in the social media VIP room? New York Times technology columnist David Pogue in his review, A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire, gives three good reasons why there definitely is:

  1. It’s clean. No ads, no pop ups, no blinking anything. It’s a pure and relatively simple rest for the eyes.
  2. It’s personal. Broadcasting isn’t the focus, rather your own interests take center stage in an authentic way.
  3. It’s humble. Pinterest Boards are about beauty, inspiration, information, passion, not self-absorbtion. It’s not, “Look at how great I am!” It’s, “Isn’t this GREAT!”

The blogger Beth Hayden sums it up well when she says Pinterest can  “…start making your social media strategy more beautiful, one little pin at a time.” When you add to this the fact that the early research seems to show that it will also make your social media marketing more engaging; and, when done appropriately, it will also help connect you to your constituencies at a deeper level: What’s not to like?

——

Our Other Pinterest Post:

Luscious Links to Unlock Pinterest: Free Resources Show How to Pin Your Marketing

Your Social Media Future: It’s Time to Say YES.

I continue to be amazed by how many professional people still resist social media marketing. In fact, this seems to be one of the main reasons that participants find so much value in my workshop, “Mastering the Social Media Marketing Mix.”

The US “premiere” of this workshop will be in San Francisco, next Wednesday, October 12th. The producer, Linda Kosut just sent out an email announcement to her list with the headline, “Social Media IS Our Future” including a commentary about how she personally resisted this idea for a long time.

social media marketing workshop in Auckland, NZ

"Social Media Marketing Mix" workshop in NZ

When I was in New Zealand, Mark Lowndes of the law firm Lowndes Associates described his experience this way:

“A year ago I was certain social media had no relevance to our commercial law firm.  Today I am convinced I was wrong. Social media will be an increasingly important part of our interaction with our clients and the business community at large. As with many businesses, I now believe there is no option but to learn how to engage effectively using social media.”
— Mark Lowndes, Lowndes Associates

When I speak about how important I think it is for companies and professionals of every variety to engage in social media marketing, I compare it to the ’80’s when I used to tell business audiences that email was as important as their toll free phone line. (Yes, amazing but true, not everyone recognized email at that point as an important customer service and/or sales communications channel.) I told these business people that they have to respond to their customers, and your customers have the right to communicate via any communication “channel” they want to use.

Now, your customers are “calling” you via social media. Of course, I think you should be pro-active in this new arena. But, for openers, if your toll free phone line was ringing, or you were getting email from a prospective customer, you would answer, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Well, if you’re not engaged in social media marketing yet, please consider this your social media marketing “call.”

And, here’s a real invitation: If you are in the SF Bay Area, please do not miss the chance to experience the whole 3-hour presentation of “Mastering the Social Media Marketing Mix” at Ft. Mason, Wednesday, October 12th, 6:30 to 9:30pm. Frankly, the $99 registration fee is a remarkable value. My four-week online version of this workshop which will be announced shortly is expected to cost $397.

So this San Francisco live presentation, to a small interactive group offers great value. It will also deliver great inspiration that will motivate real productivity. And there will be tons of great information. I promise all of this, and I hope to see you there. Please click here to register and/or for more information. Thanks!

My 2nd 2011 Social Media Speaking, Workshop Tour of New Zealand Will Energize With Authenticity

I can hardly believe that I’m taking off (“leaving on a jet plane”) this weekend for my second 2011 “tour” speaking and leading workshops throughout New Zealand.

I am amazed and delighted that my April, 2011 NZ speaking tour has led to a new batch of “return engagements.” Truthfully, I relish the opportunity to “turn on” business audiences to the remarkable communication opportunities of social media and Internet marketing, while also encouraging them to be proactive Net citizens who use the medium well through authenticity and leading with value in order to create meaningful relationships.

On this trip, in addition to at least three “In-House Workshops” and an academic presentation for Otago University, I will lead the public events linked below. Kiwi friends, I hope to see you there!

To get an idea of my MediaSense keynote event please check out this great 90-second promo video shot when I was in NZ last April. We will be doing an expanded version of MediaSense in Auckland on the 25th of August:

AUGUST 2011 NEW ZEALAND — PUBLIC EVENTS

Thursday, August 25th — Auckland
Breakfast panel for the Lowndes Associates Business Intelligence Series (now sold out!),
as well as a keynote speech & moderator for two panels at
MediaSense: Make Social Media Marketing Work for You
(click for more info about the impressive line up of speakers & registration details)

Friday, August 26th — Hawkes Bay
Exclusive Half-Day “Social Media Mix” Workshop
(click for online description document)

Tuesday, August 30th — Wellington
Half-Day “Social Media Mix” Workshop sponsored by SmartNet
(click for description and registration)

Please “stay tuned” by subscribing above. I hope to post more from the road. Or use the Twitter or Facebook links above to get updates. Thanks!

Social Media Makes the Old New Again: “If You Don’t Have Something Good to Say…”

A recent viewing of a Yahoo! video of Seth Godin reminded me that the social media “sea change” is much more than an incremental shift. It is literally a game changer. (FYI, this was also the subject of my latest TheTVNews.tv video commentary.)

It’s no wonder that so many people are either being diverted by “get rich quick” scam artists or trying to stuff social media strategies into some kind of  “same-ole-media box.”

In order to make sure that your social media marketing time is well spent, here are some provocative questions inspired by some respectable authorities that I hope will help you approach your social media marketing in a meaningful, satisfying and successful manner. After all, A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency :

  1. What’s the Difference between the Engagement Game and Actually Being Engaging?
    The Difference Between Engaged and Engaging” — a blog post by Danny Brown
  2. Why are Facebook “Fans” and YouTube Video Views a Meaningless Statistic?
    AdAge: “Sorry, but Counting Facebook ‘Fans’ or Video Views Won’t Help Your Brand
  3. What’s Wrong with Us? Are We Lazy or What?
    Social Media Fatique” — a blog post by Chris Brogan

Creating meaningful social media means moving beyond this “Social Media Fatigue.” And, it’s not going to happen unless we, as Brogan says, take the opportunity “to make something interesting and worthwhile, to be helpful, to empower others, to encourage and inspire others.” (In an earlier blog post, I called this “Leading with Value.”)

As our grandmothers used to say, “If you don’t have something GOOD to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Bottom line, real relationship building—which is what social media marketing is (or should be) all about—comes down to communicating your “basic human decency.” Now that’s “really cool.”

Luscious Links: Online Video & Blogging Tips for Small Business Success

I thoroughly enjoy mining the Web for useful articles that I hope provide you with insights that can help you build your business success. The most immediate way for me to refer you to these articles is my Twitter account and our ComBridges Facebook page. Please “Follow” and/or “Like” respectively if you’d like more of this kind of stuff more quickly. These “Luscious Links” blog posts are another way for me to share these tips and insights with you. If you are so moved, please let me know which you find the most useful and share some of your favorites in the comments.

6 Steps to Uploading Pro Quality Videos to the Web
As a long time video pro, I get lots of how-to questions about best practices for producing video clips for marketing. This post has a concise list of key must-do steps. A well done post.

At YouTube Boot Camp, Future Stars Polish Their Acts
And, yes, there is a business “there” there. As this NYTimes article illuminates, even YouTube itself is offering bootcamps to help small businesses succeed.

For Some, Blogs Also Pay the Bills
A passion and sustainable focus are key components of a successful online business. OK, they are a critical component of ANY business. Without a significant time commitment and determination—let’s tell the truth—you are doomed. This is another insightful NYTimes article that includes some modest (and some not so modest) success stories.

Five minutes with Steven Pressfield, author of ‘The War of Art’, ‘Do The Work’ and ‘Gates of Fire’
And, speaking of a sustainable commitment, Steven Pressfield is one of my absolutely favorite authors because of the clarity of his inspiration. His latest book, “Do the Work” is a must read, in my opinion. Amazon affiliate link is below. Enjoy!

 

Social Media Fun, Keynote Presentation with Prezi Software, On the Road in New Zealand

I experienced more excitement getting ready for my current Social Media Marketing speaking tour of New Zealand than any recent business undertaking. For openers, this trip is a fulfillment of my vision of work being fun; and it’s almost impossible not to think of a trip to New Zealand as a “vacation.” But, this really is a business trip.

I’m doing a two-hour social media marketing consulting session with a government agency in Auckland. I’m keynoting at a social media conference in Hawkes Bay. And, I’m leading two lunch talks followed by social media marketing workshops in Wellington and Dunedin. It was also fun to get interviewed by a Kiwi business journalist and I thought it came out well. Do you agree?

Aside from the opportunity to discover New Zealand, along the way we are going to see what we can do to support the social media peeps in Christ Church, the scene of the devastating earthquake.

These gigs are also providing the opportunity for me to expand my keynote speaker offerings as well as to enhance my presentation skills. My new keynote called “Social Media Optimization” is taking some of my familiar key concepts from “What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing” and spinning them with rich ideas that leverage the “hot buttons du jour” surrounding social media marketing.

A corner of my new Prezi

Simultaneously, I am learning my way into being able to use a very cool visual communications tool called Prezi. I’ve been interesting in learning Prezi for quite some time. It’s a dynamically animated presentation software alternative to PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote that uses a white board/mind-mapping environment. It has a pretty unique user interface, but with the support of their online resources and an occasional question to their tech support I’m getting up to speed very quickly. (FYI, initially I got support via Twitter until I actually bought it at which time their email support became available to me).

I’m excited to use this new style of presentation because I think it’s closer to the way I think and thus will make the presentation more conceptually clear and organically engaging. I look forward to sharing this new style with you all online. In the meantime, it’s a relief to be outside the frequently mind-numbing powerpoint presentation paradigm and to be using a tool that can work for mind mapping and a more spontaneous presentation style, while also enhancing the visual style of my keynotes and workshops. (Please contact me if you would like to learn more about how I can help to inspire and inform your organization or group.)

More soon, hopefully while I’m still in NZ. Thanks for reading.

New Video: On the Paramount Importance of Authenticity in Online Marketing

As I discussed in the Tuesday, February 15th edition of TheTVNews.tv, authenticity has become not only the theme of our initial webinars on NewMarU.com, but it has captured my focus as a marketer because I believe now more than ever, that authenticity is the heart of the matter when it comes to Internet marketing and social media marketing in particular.

Robert Rabbin on NewMarU.com webinar

While we work on other products (future digital video and audio downloads and a possible ebook), I want to make my conversation with Robert Rabbin, the author of Authenticity Accelerator: How to Live an Authentic Life in Ten Words, as widely available as possible. At this point, there is a one-hour webinar which is only available to Founding Members of NewMarU.com (sign up here); but I’ve edited ten-minutes of highlight excerpts and posted that video below (via our new NewMarketingU YouTube channel) and I hope you find it as valuable as I do.

Bottom line, authenticity is essential because it helps to build relationships; and real relationships with your customers, audiences or other constituencies is crucial. It’s truly of paramount importance. Nothing matters more than your relationship with your circles of influence. Only with authenticity can your communications cut through the noise and the clutter of today’s media marketing environment.

In the ten minute video below, Robert and I talk about why this is true, including how authenticity builds:

  • Engagement
  • Trust
  • And, is an extension of your essential “I want”

In the one hour version, we also discuss how authenticity can lead to a real kind of magic and “miracles.” It’s exciting stuff. I hope this video gives you a taste and inspires you. I look forward to your comments and feedback. If you like this video, please share it and “Like” it etc. Thanks!

Another Authentic Link

Also of interest on the subject of authenticity and mentioned in the TheTVNews.tv video clip linked in the first paragraph is TheNextWeb’s article, Humanizing Brands with Social Media: An Interview with Benjamin Palmer. Palmer is “head of one of the hippest digital creative agencies in New York City” and very insightful on ways that marketing has dramatically changed as well as how businesses of all sizes can be successful by humanizing and making their marketing more authentic.

The Fast-Track Intro to Internet Marketing | Free Webinar Tues 1/18/11

For those of us who more or less “live” online, it’s kind of amazing how many businesses and entrepreneurs are still struggling to understand and benefit from the amazing power of Internet marketing. If this is you, now there is a great way for you get up to speed, for free!

Jon has given his one-hour workshop, “What Every Business Should Know About Internet Marketing” in locations from Kona, Hawaii to Silicon Valley (as you can see in the video clip on Jon’s keynote speaker web page). Now, as just one of the benefits of registering for the free level of New Marketing University, NewMarU.com, this information-packed hour is being offered FREE via the Internet and phone conference lines on Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. Click here to register now >>

This useful and informative webinar includes a complete overview of the three main areas of Internet marketing, including:

  • The “Super Market-Trends” that have radically leveled the marketing playing fieldJon Leland at Web 3.0 Asia in Hong Kong
  • The two essential strategies upon which all successful internet marketing campaigns are based
  • The three main types of internet marketing: search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click search engine advertising (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM)
  • A comparative analysis of the time requirements for implementation, the kinds and quality of results, and the cost-per-lead that is derived from each main category
  • Valuable tips, tricks and resources that are based on real world experience

Why are we producing this event for free?

  • Jon LOVES to share information and people love learning this material. It’s important!
  • It helps to expose the expertise that makes ComBridges such a valuable marketing partner.
  • This is a “free sample” of things to come. We are working on a new educational website to be called “New Marketing University” that will have many more programs. We hope you’ll like this program enough to become interested in more. To learn more, please register now.

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 18th at 10:00AM PT / 1:00PM ET. We hope to see you there.

>> Please Click Here to Register Now <<
It takes just 30 seconds, really! And, even if you can’t make it live, by registering you will make sure that you get the link to the free recorded version.

Or view our 1-page PDF with the generic course description below . . .
What Every Business-Onesheet 03.25.10