Build Online Visibility – Contributed by Vijay Pullur, President, SocialTwist
If a good business idea, sound technology and a well thought business plan are the life and blood of a start-up, PR and Marketing are its survival kit. There is no point in creating a great state of art product if you cannot market it effectively. Reach out to your end consumers and make them believe, how great and state of art your product or service is.
Today the explosion of information over the Internet has resulted in more informed and social media savvy customers; customers who have slowly become marketers in their own right.
The concept of word of mouth marketing or WOMM is the art of reaching out to these customers and converting them into your brand’s advocates. Ensuring they lend the force of their own personality and experience when promoting your brand to a third person.
WOMM has emerged as the simplest and fastest way of promoting your brand among your target audience with the necessary recommendations. In this post, I share five tips with you on how you can build WOMM into your overall Marketing Strategy.
WOMMA defines Word of Mouth Marketing as giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place. It is the art and science of building active, mutually beneficial consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-marketer communications.
1. Give your brand a distinct character and personality
It is important that your company and its personality give people the reason to talk. It is important that you create a distinct personality for your brand or product. It could be very similar to other existing solutions in the market yet it should have its own distinct character something that would make it different from the rest. It could be the technology, the approach or the target segment. Be very clear on how you will ensure that your end customer is able to differentiate between your brand and a 100 others. Your distinct personality will become the reason for people to talk.
2. Make your website user friendly
Your website is the display window of your brand. Make it as attractive and simple as possible. When building your website, visualize your end consumer, what information would s/he look for? How best can I convince her? What would appeal to her and make her come back for more? What would be the easiest way for her to navigate my site? How will she share any information she likes on my site with others in her circle of trust? Your website should clearly take care of these queries.
3. Grab the attention of people who can spread the word
In his book named WOMM, Andy Sernivitz states, “Everyone who walks into your site is a prospect for spreading your content. It is not necessary that this person be a subject expert, an evangelist, or even a blogger. It is simply enough, if the visitor thinks that your content is of relevance, need or entertaining for someone known to him/her.” In other words, good content, interesting visuals, and relevant information are critical to the success of your business, your website and to your WOMM strategy.
4. Make it easy for them
Now that you have a nice looking customer friendly website which has lots of relevant information which people can talk about, it is important to empower your site or blog visitor with the right tools which help him spread the word. When a user has to remember his friend (contact) or go somewhere else to find that, it reduces the chances of word of mouth happening. Helping him find contacts of friends on various channels on your website itself will make it easy. Today there are many widgets available which enable this, like AddThis, ShareThis etc. The social media sharing widget from SocialTwist, Tell-a-Friend also enables sharing of content across channels, however it also gives you measurable information on your WOMM activities like referral traffic data, how many people shared the information, the channels used for sharing etc. which can help you strategize your next move better.
5. Be everywhere your customers expect you to be
In a white paper recently released by Charlene Li (Altimeter Group) and Ben Elowitz (Wetpaint) the authors linked financial success with social media engagement. Their findings reveal, “… the most valuable brands in the world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial performance and deep social engagement. The relationship is apparent and significant: socially engaged companies are in fact more financially successful.”
To a great extent, this statement is true; today social media enables companies to know the pulse of their customers. They have a direct medium to communicate with their customers, act upon their grievances, understand and meet their needs.
In his blog, All Things WOM John Moore states, “The more a company knows about the likes, dislikes, etc. of customers, the better they can develop products and services to meet their needs to drive business success. It’s basic but true. If your customers are heavy users of Twitter, your company should be heavy users of Twitter. If your customers are heavy users of Facebook, your company should be heavy users of Facebook. If your customers are active users of Yelp, your company should actively use Yelp.
Word of mouth can only happen if a conversation happens. And the more places where conversations happen, the more opportunities for word of mouth to happen. And thus, it pays to be social.”
Whether you are a big time marketer or small business owner or simply a blogger, Word of Mouth Marketing must be on your mind. There is no better way of marketing your product or service than empowering those who believe in them. Who will market it in their own words, among those who they know would appreciate the same qualities they liked about your brand.
Image via: SamsonOS
It happens to everyone: you’re sitting at your desk, staring into the distance, or out the window, silently kicking yourself because you know you should be working, but it’s just not happening. Every little distraction seems to be much more interesting than what you’re meant to be doing, yet turning your attention to the work at hand is easier said than done. This is even further accentuated when you’re working for a small company, starting your own business, or work from home.
Creating the right work environment is a low-cost but effective way of improving and maximizing productivity; it‚Äôs about making your business work for you. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or have been working from home for a while, following these simple tips will help bootstrap your way to success.
1. Create a Comfortable Environment
Given that space can be a problem for a lot of people, deciding where to put your workstation can be difficult. It may feel natural to place your desk facing the wall or in a corner, but this can make you feel boxed in. Instead, position your desk so the outside is visible, but don’t face it directly into the window, have it at right angles so you’re not blocking the natural light, and won’t be easily distracted.
If the room lacks abundant natural light, paint the walls a light/neutral color, and try to set the lighting to the most natural level you can achieve. The temperature of the room is important, too. There’s no ideal set temperature; have what works best for you. Just keep in mind that if it’s too hot you’ll feel sleepy; too cold will make it hard to not focus on anything but the chill factor.
2. Invest in a Good Chair
Image: Ergomonic Rescue
If there’s one thing guaranteed to help boost your business, it’s a good comfortable work chair. Dodgy chairs often lead to dodgy backs, making working effectively almost impossible. It doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, it just means putting a bit of thought into it. Hard wooden dining table chairs, or flimsy fold-down chairs are rarely nice to sit on for a dinner party, never mind a whole day. Make sure you get one that’s adjustable, with lumbar support. And remember, what’s right for one person may not be right for another, so test a few out before you buy. Check out how your seat should be positioned too, good desk ergonomics are equally as important, to prevent stresses and strains on the body.
3. Make the Most of Your Workstation
Having your desk, chair and computer equipment at the correct height and layout for your body means you can prevent future posture problems, and improve your overall well-being, which will increase current and future work production. If you’re on the phone a lot, invest in a headset to avoid straining your neck; it will also free up your hands so you can do other things.
Cluttered Desk: Not Good
Image via: Dotloose
A cluttered desk or workstation makes it harder to find things and stay organized. Ensure all paperwork is filed within a reasonable time frame, i.e., weekly, but is still accessible, leaving you space to work.
Tidy Desk: Good
4. Get in the Right Mindset
If you’re working from home, always have a shower first thing in the morning and have a set time to be at your desk. Try to steer clear of old track suit bottoms and holey T-shirts while you’re working. The comfort factor is tempting but dressing like you’re set for a day on the sofa instead of in the office will surely affect how you work.
One of the hardest parts of working at home is being surrounded by all of your home comforts. Try to walk into your office and metaphorically close the door to your home life.
Once you enter your office space, you should be in work-mode. Don’t worry about the breakfast dishes, the shopping or the washing. You wouldn’t be doing it if you worked in an office so why do it at home?
5. Put on Your Business Hat
Focus on your business acumen when at your workstation. Treat every email, phone call and chance client encounter/handshake with the same attention. They may be the building blocks of important future work connections.
6. Structure Your Day
Having a start, middle and finish to your day helps you focus for longer. It’s important to plan the day, too, for example, going through emails first thing in the morning, or working out the best time of day to do cold calls etc. But don’t spend too long on emails. Set yourself a time limit in the morning and then check them just once again in the afternoon. Too many people get waylaid by answering time-consuming emails that aren’t important. And, make a pact with yourself to never check time-draining social sites like Facebook during work hours. Yes, you.
7. Make a List
Image: Jayel Aheram
Have a to-do list, so you can check off each thing you need to do. This can be done as often (daily/weekly) as necessary; whatever works for you. Write the list in a diary and tick them off as you go or enter it into a project management database. Seeing them ticked off at the end of the day gives a sense of achievement, which in turn keeps you motivated.
8. Set Goals and Have Rewards
Having short- and long-term goals promotes accomplishment and helps you work towards achieving your aims, no matter how small or complex. What do you want to achieve? Sit down and create a list of what you want from your business, and where you want to be in X amount of weeks/months/years. You need to have something to look forward to once you have reached these milestones. Give yourself a pat on the back. Go out for a meal, theatre, drink etc. Do something that you enjoy.
9. Stand Out From the Crowd
Investigate how others in your profession are doing what you do. Know your competition! With that knowledge, develop an edge that makes you different from others, and more marketable. What are your best points? Promote these when selling yourself to potential clients. Use past experience for examples. If you‚Äôre starting afresh, tailor past experiences that may not necessarily be in your current line of work to suit the kind of work you are now promoting.
10. Maximize Your Image
Image: Ian Britton
It can be harder to make your business look professional when you’re starting out or working from home. To counteract this, meet clients in cafes, restaurants or at their place of work. Dress to impress. You don’t need to break the bank to do this, but try and wear attire that you think suits the people you are meeting with.
11. Utilize Your Software
There are so many tools within the standard computer programs that can help you save time but maximise productivity. For example, use the calendar function within your email and you‚Äôll get automatic email reminders of recorded events or meetings. It’s also a good idea to set up templates for emails you send regularly, or set up rules to filter certain mails into set folders. If you don’t already use them, set up macros (a set of actions you can use to automate tasks ‚ in certain programs you use frequently). They can be huge timesavers; even the simplest macros can benefit you immensely. Ask your friends or family for assistance, or take a course to help you improve.
12. Log Your Hours
If you’re a freelancer and are working for a few different companies it’s important to keep track of the hours you’re working for each one, and log the time. Not only do you have all your working hours documented so you can see how you’re spending your time, it gives your employer a bit of reassurance that even though you’re working from home, you’re still organized and reliable.
13. Stretch, Drink Lots of Fluids and Take Regular Breaks
Image: Lex in the City
This may seem obvious, but a lot of people don’t realise how important it is to follow these simple work rules. Stretching relaxes your muscles and boosts your energy. Drinking fluids, especially water, increases your brain activity. And taking a short break, even for a few seconds, rests your body from the rigidity of sitting in front of the computer screen. It’s especially important to look away, even for a few seconds, to rest your eyes. Take productive breaks that refresh you enough to stay focused on your work. And, always take a lunch break away from the desk. This should apply whether you’re working from home or in an office. On the whole, people are much more productive after a break away from their work space. Use the time to fit in some of your exercises, which will help to invigorate you for the afternoon ahead. And try to lay off the lunchtime booze, too.
14. Combat Loneliness
If you ask most home workers what they miss the most about working in an office, their answer will more than likely be, the people. We humans are a funny bunch, when we’re around people we want to be in our own space, when we have it, we crave human interaction. To avoid feeling isolated, make sure you meet up with people for lunch or an after work drink a couple of times a week, or use your lunch hour to make social calls.
15. Ignore the Weather
It’s always incredibly tempting to take some sneaky time off when it’s hot and sunny outside. Well, who would know? The answer: you the next day when you find you’re way behind in your work and are having a mild panic attack because you know it will never be done in time. This means you stay up late to finish what you need to, your wonderfully-thought out timetable has gone out the window, and you end up cranky for the rest of the week because you still haven’t caught up on the sleep you missed. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.
About The Author
Fran is a banker and a freelance writer, currently living in London and freelance writing for an Australian price comparison site where you can easily compare credit cards online. She grew up in New Zealand; the Land of the Long White Cloud and many, many sheep. Ten years ago she left farm life to build a career in investment banking, in the financial capital of the world. She has worked for numerous big name banks, and is currently with JP Morgan. She loves writing and finance, so combining the two is a dream come true.
Shiny wrappers promising delicious treats inside, perfectly tied bows sealing seductive sweets within, colors of the rainbow catching the eye at every angle…I’d like to address the kid-in-the-candy-store phenomenon and how it applies to your marketing (more specifically, how it shouldn’t apply). Through my years of experience of working with my clients and trying to educate them on their marketing and working with a bootstrapped budget, I’ve noticed that they really appreciate it when I slap their hands and help them slow down before they burn through their budgets like a chocolate-smeared kid blowing through his allowance in a candy store. Granted, there are some very effective marketing methods out there today, but without the occasional hand-slap, you might get as excited as a child and buy up every shiny new marketing solution that you see.
First, the following is not supposed to be considered a popularity contest, and by no means am I claiming to be the coolest guy out there-well, my five-month-old son may think I’m pretty cool! But what I’d like to ask you is: Who do you know? I don’t want to know if you’ve ever seen James Woods in a Starbucks or if you’re the type of person who gets the thumbs up from everyone you pass. I just want to see if you can develop a list of people you know. Why develop a list? Because, whether you’re a first-year small-business greenhorn or a veteran badass, creating a contact list is one of the best ways to get your marketing wheels rolling. And…uh huh, you know what’s coming here…it’s free!
Instead of buying the first shiny marketing package that catches your eye, set aside a significant period of time and develop a list of all the people you know. By first creating a list of contacts that you can solicit and present your business to, you’ll be taking advantage of verified, warm leads; leads you didn’t have to spend a single marketing dollar on. The first phase of creating your list should be done through a stream of consciousness, writing down every single name that comes to mind. Subsequently, you’ll use a filter and qualify each of the name’s you’ve written down. Try categorizing them into Direct Purchase, Referral Prospects, Barter Candidates and Sleepers.
- Direct Purchase: Who on your list is ready to buy? Which names did you write down that fall under your classifications for your ideal client?
- Referral Prospects: Want to double or triple your new contact list? Then ask yourself “Who do they know?” For example, let’s say you’re a used-car salesman. Okay, so you’ve got your brother on the list, but he’s always been a new-or-nothing kind of guy and though he loves you, refuses to buy from you. Instead of testing this familial tie’s strength, simply think of who he knows or ask him if he thinks any of his friends might be interested. No matter what industry they’re in, business owners would do well to view their company as a network marketing company or an MLM. Look beyond the surface; there are many levels to a solid business.
- Barter Candidates: Who on your list could you trade services/products with? Perhaps your neighbor doesn’t need a car at this time, but you can still ask him if he’d be willing to trade you a few hours of his skills for some car repair discounts you get through your vendors.
- Sleepers: These are the people you just can’t seem to categorize. Perhaps you only briefly met them on the street once and don’t have an actual relationship with them. Either way, you should never assume a contact is worthless until you’ve made the effort to market to them.
Just as we encourage equality in society, so shall it be with your business. Never assume anything about your prospects or contacts until you’ve dealt with them directly-after that, you can judge them as much as you’d like.
Look for our future feature article on follow-up to help you capitalize on your contact list.
Unless you’re an uber famous Hollywood star, then chances are you ask this question almost every time you purchase something (unless it’s toilet paper): Why should I buy? For one thing, some Hollywood stars probably do use their money as toilet paper. But the point is money isn’t exactly an issue for them, so they don’t put much consideration into most price tags they come across. For us Average Joe Consumers though, we’re on a constant hunt for value. We’re like a real-life version of The Price Is Right; with every successful move hinged on the price of a product or service. Now, apply this mode of thinking to your prospect’s perspective.
Every time a potential client is presented with your product or service, they will ask themselves why they should buy from you. This is a natural reaction—people have a natural propensity for procrastination. However, when you multiply this by the effects of today’s economy and then multiply that by the thousands of new small businesses entering the marketplace on a daily basis, well, you sure have to give them a helluva good reason why they should buy from you.
Now, hopefully you’ve been following along and enjoying our articles, so perhaps you’ve heard us mention unique selling point (USP). Your USP is the answer to your prospect’s question as to why they should buy. Make it incredibly obvious what makes your business different from the masses. These are the one or two gems that make your business a necessity in your prospect’s life. Take note of an important element in that preceding sentence. You need to make sure you keep your focus on just a couple distinguished aspects of your business. Include more than that in your marketing and branding efforts and you’re going to sound like a recent graduate’s resume, listing everything from “habitat improvement” for mowing lawns to “sales experience” because they buy groceries on a regular basis.
Spread your apparent specialties too thin and throw fluff at your prospects and they will see through you. And remember, Newton’s Third Law here: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This can go two ways for word of mouth (WOM) marketing. Most people only talk about getting clients through WOM, but if you come off as the recent graduate in your business pitch, then you may lose clients through WOM. Just think about all the countless blogs and online forums here on the Web today. An obvious trend is people’s absolute love of discussing hate. People are just tickled pink that they now have the opportunity to complain about anything at all that bothers them. Whether it’s the fact that one of their feet is bigger than the other so they have to buy two pairs of shoes or that they visited some person’s website and thought it was nothing more than a cheap ploy, word will spread about your business.
Your specialty could be the fact that you’ve never once been late or missed a deadline or possibly your stunning customer service which never allows the phone to ring more than three times and the promise that they’ll get a live person on the phone every time. Write down your business’ top 10 attributes, and then narrow that last to your top one or two. Now, make sure you’re striving for attributes that are not only top-notch, but are also distinct from other competing businesses.
Just be ethical, present your business in an honest manner, keep your USP simple and laser-beam focused, and prospective clients will then know why they should buy from you, and only you.
So, we’ve mentioned the importance of monitoring your marketing and we’re going to continue to do so because of its great importance. Otherwise, if you’re not monitoring your marketing, then it’s similar to throwing a piece of bait into the ocean without securing a line to it. Where did it go? What happened to it? You’ll be asking the same questions about your budgeting if you don’t keep a careful eye on promoting your business.
What’s one of the best ways to keep track of what’s working and what’s not with your marketing? Just ask. It really can be that simple. You should always have several marketing lines in the water, so if you get a new prospect or client, they could have come from any number of sources. One of the first things you should be asking them is “How did you hear about us?” or “Where did you find us?” You should also be sure to ask people via your website as well.
This method may not be earth-shatteringly new, but we just don’t see it that much on the Web or hear people asking us as much. Plus, you know the old adage, when we assume, it makes an ass out of u and me. Even if you’ve heard it before, its significance still bares repeating. By asking people how they found out about you, you then get a direct laser beam on your marketing. If after a couple of months of marketing, you find that 10 people found you through the local newspaper ad you posted, 50 people found you through the Internet and one person found you through your postcard mailers, what does that tell you? Dump the mailers and reallocate that funding towards your Internet and newspaper ads; with a majority of it going towards the more successful method.
We specifically suggested waiting a month or two before assessing your marketing because you should always be looking at statistical significance. Granted, statistical significance does sound pretty cool in a complex way, but it’s pretty simple. If you make an assessment after a week, then that hasn’t allowed enough people to see your add to make an accurate judgment. For example, at that point, you could have had one person across the board, which would have suggested that you keep investing your money equally in each marketing category. But as we saw after a few months, that would have meant a big waste in postcard mailers. So be careful about taking one set of numbers as gospel.
Speaking of statistics, you might gain a lot from a basic statistics class. Don’t worry, there’s no real brain teasers involved and you don’t have to be a true mathematician. What it will do is help you get a general grasp on the behavior and trends of numbers in your business and industry. From knowing what’s statistically significant enough to base your bootstrapped budget on, to knowing that correlation most certainly doesn’t always mean causation, a little extra education here and there will always help boost your business.