Friday, June 13, 2008

Word of Mouth Marketing--Part II

According to Andy Sernovitz in Word of Mouth Marketing, the Five Ts of womm are:

Taking Part

Talkers: Who are the people who want to talk about you and your stuff? The immediate thought is--your customers. Yes, some customers may be good talkers. But Sernovitz makes an interesting point: your talkers can also be "super-eager fans who will never buy a product." He mentions the opening of Wynn Las Vegas. Before the official opening, the hotel invited in cabbies for free rooms and the run of the place. Cabbies aren't likely customers. But as they drive tourists around, which hotel do you think they were talking about?

Turns out this is exactly what I did with my recent reaching out to the Big Honkin' Chickens Club. This unofficial club has been around a long time, full of folks who call themselves chickens when it comes to reading suspense. Which means when I moved to writing suspense only, they wouldn't read my stuff. But they'll talk about it. They'll tell others about me. I decided to make it easier for them to talk (second half of Sernovitz's definition of womm). I came up with a cute BHCC logo and put it on merchandise like a keychain, magnet, mousepad, bag and T-shirt. All the merchandise also includes my Seatbelt Suspense trademark and website address. I gave them an easy html copy and paste way to post the BHCC logo on their own sites. I gave them a page complete with a guestbook on my web site. I came up with a system for rating my novels' "scare factor," using the logo and daring BHCC members to try one. A three-chicken read may really be too much, but a one-chicken read? Why not try it? It's fun for the BHCC folks, because they're doggone proud of their membership. And if decide to carry around a BHCC keychain, that's marketing for me.
Big Honkin' Chickens Club
Look beyond your core customers. Who else might talk about you? Sernovitz lists seven kinds of people to consider and three traits they might possess. He includes a "Talker Profile" worksheet for thinking through this process. And he lists ways to make these people happy, which will keep them talking.

Topics--what will they talk about? Sernovitz notes that the message needs to be a single idea and very short. No lists. No using "and." He lists characteristics that make a good topic and spends a lot of pages giving you ideas for how to come up with topics. One characteristic he mentions: They are organic--arising naturally from the "exceptional qualities that make your stuff stand out." So ya gotta include factors in your stuff that lead to a good message. Gateway could just make computers. Somebody had to think--"Let's put them in cow boxes."

If you're a novelist, what can you do? For my Kanner Lake series, I created Scenes and Beans, the character blog. Scenes and Beans is also a blog in the novels themselves, written by the regular customers of Java Joint, the coffee shop in Kanner Lake. I held auditions for aspiring novelists who wanted to write as the characters before the first book, Violet Dawn, hit the stands. Their posts would be written in real time, according to what was happening in the novels. Auditioners got free pre-release reads of Violet Dawn so they could study the characters. By the time Violet Dawn was released, all those writers who won parts were talking to their friends about the blog and series. They had a stake in the series. They had their own "Original Scenes and Beans writer" logo to put on their blogs. I sent them press releases, which allowed them to fill in their own names and information, that they could send to their local papers. Some did--and had articles printed about them in their papers. And, of course, those articles mentioned Violet Dawn and the Kanner Lake series. My womm topic: The blog in the novels is real.

I wanted Scenes and Beans to continue running strong after these initial writers had fulfilled their six-month commitment to write for the blog. It didn't hit the success I wanted it to. But that initial word of mouth for Violet Dawn really helped. The last book of that series, Amber Morn, was dedicated to all those initial Scenes and Beans writers.

So--now with Amber Morn's release, the Kanner Lake series is over. What am I going to do for my next novel, Dark Pursuit? Don't know. But you can bet I'm thinking about it.

These examples are a couple from my own experience. Sernovitz has many examples of womm topics in his book. The examples are great 'cause they get you thinking about what you could do. Sometimes the thinking has to be out of the box. Or maybe in a cow box.

Part III Monday--the next Three Ts.

Read Part III


Anonymous said...

If we're still goin' strong for the drawing, I'm in.

Pam Halter said...

I'm getting good ideas now ... I just need to get that contract! HA!

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

HA! I'm with you, Pam.

I'm trying to figure out what the other three mean. I'm curious what the tools will be and how he suggests we track word of mouth. But the one that has me stumped the most is "Taking Park." Could that be "Taking Part"? Or is it some other incredibly mysterious part of marketing that I've never heard of?


~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Becky, you of all people should know what that means. It means taking part in a parallel universe. hahaha

I fixed it in the post. ;)

Jay Ehret said...

Wow, Brandilyn, the Scenes and Beans idea rocks! That is a cool idea creating a conversations piece and then allowing the talkers to talk.

The medium of word of mouth is real people. You just need to find the right people to talk about you.

Gracie said...

These "going-way-out-of-the-box" ideas are great -- I'd never considered Gateway as an example of unique marketing! And thanks for using your own novels as examples of the book's techniques: it helps to see how an author took these ideas and used them for her own genre.

Hmmm, if you're looking for marketing techniques for Dark Pursuit... You mentioned the symbolism of silk in the book. Maybe you could sell silk shirts with your logo on them.

Carol Burge said...

Wow, great ideas. I'm going to think up something for my debut novel. :)

Anonymous said...

Love the mention of Andy Sernovitz's book. Great points in there - the best spokesperson for any product is "a person like me".

I love the Steve Wynn hotel story - the cabbies being comped was sheer genius!