I've had some good email responses to my latest premium article for Marketing Profs on how you can improve your marketing by giving it away. I've heard from more than one company that wants to know how they can get to the point where their customers are handling their online promotion. Here's some quick tips:
1 - Assume that most people have likely never heard of you. And if they have, they probably have no interest whatsoever in promoting you. IOW, they don't give a damned about you or telling anyone else about you. Once you accept this, then you can get to work.
2 - You have to give people something to talk about. Yes it sounds trite, but it's the truth. And it has to be something more meaningful than your Columbus Day Sale.
3 - Find a way to give customers value. This is the key, you have to FIRST give your customers something that they value, and then they will be grateful, and possibly promote you to others. A great way to do this is to participate in online communities, or to create your own. Let's say you are the brand manager for a lawn-care company that is producing a new line of weed killers. A good idea would be to participate in online groups/message boards where customers are discussing ways to rid their lawns of weeds. Don't focus on promoting your weed killer, but instead focus on helping members solve their lawn-care problems. If you can demonstrate and provide value to the community, then these members will want to learn more about your products and will assume that since you know what you are talking about, that your products just might work! But the key is to focus first on providing value to current and potential customers.
4 - Identify your evangelists, and empower them. Find and identify the people that are already promoting you, and make it easier for them to do so. This sounds a lot harder than it is. Josh has a perfect example of this on his blog concerning the Georgia Aquarium tapping into the power of their visitors via Flickr. The Georgia Aquarium noticed that visitors had taken a ton of stunning photos of the displays at the aquarium and had posted them on Flickr. So the Georgia Aquarium created a Flickr group, and invited members to join the group and post their pictures of the aquarium's exhibits! Josh adds that the GA is asking Flickr members to please add a description with each photo. They then will use the photos and stories on their relaunched website. The website also features a world map that shows each member's location, with their photos being displayed when you mouse over each location. Again, all the GA did was find Flickr members that were already promoting them, and then pulled the content they were producing all into one spot and put the focus on the visitors and the content they are creating.
5 - Stay in CONSTANT communication with your customers. Perhaps the biggest fear that companies have in letting their customers have more of a say in their marketing, is that they are fearful of what their customers WILL say! This is a natural fear that companies have to overcome because customers always have a say in your marketing, whether you realize it or not. But by keeping in constant communication with your customers, you can create your marketing message together. It also makes it easier for you to understand your customers, and speak in THEIR voice, which results in a more authentic message.
Bonus Link: How to Launch a Successful Blogger-Outreach Program in One Day.
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing