For many small businesses and freelancers, marketing and sales budgets are non-existant. If you’re a single person operation doing everything from the finances to production work to business development, marketing can easily take a back seat to activities that seem to bring in the money faster.
Without marketing, people won’t hear about you, and you won’t get business.
So how can you get more business in the door without having to spend an arm and a leg on complicated advertising and marketing campaigns? Word of mouth.
Word of mouth is a reference to the passing of information from person to person. Originally the term referred specifically to oral communication (literally words from the mouth), but now includes any type of human communication, such as face-to-face, telephone, email, and text messaging. – Wikipedia
We can easily extend that definition to also include social media, forums, and much more. Essentially, any type of media or medium that enables us to communicate a message. So essentially word of mouth is someone passing information to another person. Now, what we want is for people to tell others about us and what we do, so how do we do that? Here’s 10 ways you can do it for free.
- Set up Twitter searches for keywords relating to your products and services and provide helpful links to people.
- Using the same Twitter searches to respond to people’s questions or point them to blog posts you’ve written that have deeper explanations.
- Create a resource that people want to share. Two examples are ebooks and educational videos.
- Take online conversations offline – if you start a conversation with someone on Twitter, get their email or give them a call. It shows that you’re really interested in what they have to say.
- Show up at industry events and do something memorable. At SXSW, the Foursquare guys played a game of foursquare outside of the conference building; Freshbooks passed out bacon along with marketing materials that talked about bringing home the bacon; and Chargify had one guy dressed as a big green bull (per their logo) and another as a matador. I remembered these three things most about the conference.
- Have a great story to tell. Zappos is a great story about building a very successful company around culture. Tony Hsieh talks about it every chance he gets, and their focus on customer service is known throughout the world. If you have a great story and tell it well, others will tell it too.
- Tell the story of your customers. Why keep everything focused on you when you can help promote your customers and get them exposure they may not have gotten otherwise. Help them out and they’ll help you out too.
- Create awesome products that help people and truly change someone’s world. An example of this is Ushahidi, developed by Erik Hersman and others, that “was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008” and is now a crisis mapping platform available to everyone for free.
- Provide awesome service to your customers. If they’re super happy they will more than likely tell people they know. For example, Rachel Baker commented on the interview I did with Eric Marden, saying how happy she was with the help he’s given her. Pure awesome.
- Follow the “Don’t Be An Asshole Rule” which simply states to not be an asshole. There are so many people out there screwing over their customers for a quick buck or using deceptive marketing and sales practices, that when you act like a real person with morals, both in your personal life and professional life, and people truly enjoy working with you, they’ll help you out.
Here are some more resources and examples to help you get your word of mouth marketing started:
- Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA)
- Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking by Andy Sernovitz (Amazon aff link)
- Business Relationships Yield Value – Chris Brogan
- Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web by Brian Solis (Amazon aff link)