Monday, June 16, 2008

Word of Mouth Marketing--Part III

From Andy Sernovitz's Word of Mouth Marketing, last week we covered the first two Ts of womm: Talkers and Topics. Today we look at three through five.

3. Tools. How can you make the message travel farther and faster? Key concepts here are "speed and portability." Because the Internet can spread word so quickly, Sernovitz gives many specific ideas for better online usage for womm. These include such things as more effective use of emails, websites, blogs, social communities, reviews, and message boards.

Overall, what hit me most about #3 was the reminder of spreading the word--any word--farther. Doesn't have to be on the Internet. It may mean rethinking any bit of marketing we do. For example, if you send out postcards via regular mail to a mailing list about your latest book, that's a one-to-one ratio, right? Sender sends to one receiver. That receiver may read it, then throw it away. What might be included in the text of that postcard that would prompt the receiver to give it to a friend? Or if you send out an e-newsletter to subscribers, obviously any email is able to be forwarded, but is there anything on that newsletter prompting receivers to forward it? And, as Sernovitz notes, if the newsletter or any marketing email is forwarded, make sure it'll make sense to the second recipient, who may not have heard of you. A quick blurb about your company or your writing or whatever would be helpful.

Sernovitz also advocates giving away free product as a good marketing tool. I agree. I think if we authors believe in our books, one of the best things we can do is get copies into the hands of new readers. If you give away one, that's a one-to-one ratio. If you give away two, that person will pass the second to a friend.

When Crimson Eve, third in the Kanner Lake series, went on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance blog tour, I included "give-away" copy in the information text I sent to CFBA. That text invited anyone who knows someone who's never read one of my suspense novels to send that person's name, street address and email address to my assistant, and that person would receive a free copy of Crimson Eve. First 100 responders got a book sent out. I promised I would not spam the recipients, only using the email address once to let them know So-and-So friend had requested that he/she receive a book, and it was on its way. (Of course, in that email was my typical Seatbelt Suspense signature and links to my website and blog.) I had 100 responses in no time. This cost some money, but it was worth the "seeding." The copies were provided by my publisher. I paid the postage and my assistant's time in mailing.

4. Taking Part. Key concept--Womm is "as much about customer service as it is about marketing." Online conversations--positive or negative--can spread quickly. Sernovitz says there are two risks in not taking part in these conversations: "word of mouth dies" or "goes negative." ISearch engines make it easy to see who's talking about you online. Google Alerts is one I use. It sends me an email telling me if anyone has mentioned me in a blog post. Don't be shy when this happens, Sernovitz says. Take time to visit the blog and say thank you if someone spoke well of your product. "Fixing problems is the most powerful marketing you can do," he says. "A formerly unhappy customer who is made happy tells 1o people." It's a little hard for an author to "fix" it when someone posts a negative review of your book. It's not like we sold someone a broken widget and can just replace it for free. But given that "unhappy customer turned happy" statement is a "key rule of thumb" for womm, it does make me think. What can I do in that situation. Is there a way in which I can take part in the conversation to make it more positive? Worth thinking about.

5. Tracking--Measuring and understanding what people are saying about you. When you track womm, you can assess such things as who is talking, what tools they are using, and what topics are working for you. Among other things Sernovitz advocates using search engines and encouraging feedback. The last one is interesting to me. Makes my mind start turning. How can I better encourage feedback on my products?

A helpful blog listed for measuring womm: Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Research Blog.

I'm coming down to the wire on a deadline at the moment. But in my spare moments (with what brain power I have left), I've been pondering Andy Sernovitz's many ideas in his book. I want to fill out the Five T form and put myself on a plan of action. (That, of course, is more than just a few minutes of filling out a piece of paper. Takes some thought.) I'm glad I read this book. It's got me fired up to open up my mind and think conceptually, as well as given me practical, specific things I can do right away.

Please continue to leave your comments today. Tomorrow I'll announce the three winners of the random drawing for a copy of Word of Mouth Marketing.

Read Winners (Final post)


Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thanks for taking the time to introduce us to this extremely important part of writing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opportunity to "win" this book, BC. Sounds like a keeper. Count me in again.

Pam Halter said...

What a ton of information! It really is mind boggling.

I liked the postcard idea and the give 2 books away OR your idea of sending a free book to anyone who had not read your stuff.

There's so much more to writing than writing ...

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Brandilyn, as I recall, you have a background in marketing. I'm wondering how helpful you think this info would be to someone without experience in the field.

Thanks again for this succinct summary.


Jay Ehret said...

Brandilyn, one example of what you talk about in today's post is Netflix. A company that operates only on the internet, sends referral cards to its members. Members can then pass them to friends and family for a free trial of Netflix.

Thanks for this excellent series!

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Becky, absolutely the book would be helpful to anyone. Don't need a marketing background.

Jay, thanks for stopping by for this series!