With brands spending millions on ads, promotions, and, ugh, “influencers,” it’s quite ironic that the most coveted form of marketing virtually costs nothing: word of mouth.
Say you’ve been struggling with acne for quite some time, and happen to have a friend with the same problem. One day, your friend shows up for lunch with completely clear skin and credits this to a new face wash they’ve been using. Wouldn’t you run out and avail of it the first chance you get?
Let’s take a look at another scenario. This year, a movie that was made for a “narrow” market was released. Its plot was typical of many romantic comedies, and the cast was comprised largely of little known celebrities that look nothing like the typical Hollywood superstars headlining blockbusters.
Yet, thanks to so much buzz generated online and offline by audiences who were thrilled to see their stories being told on the big screen after decades of being largely ignored, the movie ended up grossing hundreds of millions of dollars. Its title? “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Such is the power of word of mouth marketing. When an endorsement comes from someone you know and trust, it’s practically taken as gospel.
Why The Conventional Approach to Word of Mouth Marketing Rarely Works
When we think of word of mouth marketing, what comes to mind? Traditional wisdom tells us that it’s mostly about elevator pitches – lengthy, benefit laden, well-rehearsed sentences about what we’re selling and why customers should choose us.
And sure, that could work if you interacted with someone who was looking for the exact same product or service, but how often does that happen? (If your answer is “all the time,” that’s great, buddy. Please tell us how you manage that in the comments).
Unless you’re already established in your field, though, chances are that majority of the people you’ll casually interact with today aren’t and never will be prospects. I mean, how often would your co-worker or the lady who owns the little eatery you take your lunch at need, say, a real estate agent, right?
But with the right strategy, they can lead you to those who can and will be such.
Small Talk: A Less Obvious But Potentially Far More Effective Tool
Like many introverts, I find small talk rather excruciating. Come on, talking about the weather gets old pretty fast.
Still, there is one specific question that redeems this potentially nerve-wracking and fairly pointless exercise: What do you do?
Now, take note that this isn’t the time to impress or to generate interest. No, the key here is to get the person on the other end of the conversation to remember your answer.
Why? This is so that the next time they’re vegging out on the couch with a friend, grabbing a frozen yogurt with a date, or having dinner with their family and someone asks “Do you know someone who can help me with…..?,” it’ll be your name that crops up.
Less Is More: When Oversimplification Works In Your Favor
Remember the acronym KISS? (“Keep it short and sweet,” or, if you are so inclined, “Keep it simple, stupid.”) That applies here too, though we should add another adjective that starts with “s:” “specific.”
For example, rather than simply saying you’re a graphic designer, you can say that you lay out eye-catching posters, tarps, and calling cards for clients. If you are a real estate broker by profession, you can describe yourself as someone who helps condo unit owners find tenants for their properties.
While the aforementioned descriptions might not describe the entirety of your skills, their succinct and straightforward nature makes them easier to recall. You can always expound later on, once someone takes you up on them.
Nevertheless, proper credentials and substantial portfolios remain crucial in closing any sale, so do hang on to them, okay?
The point is that you won’t have an opportunity to deploy them until you get your foot into the door, and this where all those casual conversations will come in. By keeping your job or business description simple and specific, you’ll increase the chances of your acquaintances passing it along when the opportunity arises, thus generating leads without you having to spend a single dime.