In business, we are often taught to sell, sell, sell! Promote your product, push your sale until that dollar goes from their wallet to your bank account. While we agree that your eye must always be on the bottom line, this form of selling is not always the best method. Consider social media, events, and casual meetings as organic selling opportunities:
Imagine that you are at a neighborhood block party. Everyone has brought something to contribute to the get together, such as music, a casserole, a lemonade stand or a jump castle for the kiddos. Everyone is milling around, chatting about this or that – maybe the local elementary school’s soccer game yesterday, maybe the construction that’s been going on near the highway, or maybe the newest music video from the pop music icon of the moment.
As they load up their plates with barbecue, two neighbors, Kevin and Pete, discuss the roof damage to their homes during the last storm. This leads to a conversation about how Pete wants to switch his home insurance, and Pete learns that Kevin sells insurance for a living. Kevin thoughtfully gives Pete some tips on buying insurance, but does not try to make a sale. Afterall, at a social event like this, that would be inappropriate. However, he gives Pete his card just in case he needs any help, and they move on to talk about their favorite teams in the Big 12.
Two weeks later, Pete gives Kevin a call to make the switch. Although he does not know much about insurance, Pete feels that he knows Kevin and has a positive, trusting relationship with him already. He views Kevin as an expert on insurance and, possibly more importantly, as a man similar to himself.
Now, while this kind of interaction is fairly common, would you expect it to happen at every block party? Probably not. The point of a block party is not to make a sale – although it’s easy to see that it can happen organically.
Maybe at the next Main Street event, Pete will recommend Kevin to another friend seeking insurance, or to his boss, who is not sure whether he should get renter’s insurance for the new office space.
Word of mouth is the most powerful tool in marketing, and you can’t force it. It must be earned. It must be sincere. It must be organic.
So what can you do? You can reconsider your communication strategies.
1. Find your personality. People don’t do business with companies; they do business with other people. Don’t be afraid to show that your business has a face and a voice.
2. Focus on relationship-building in conjunction with (or possibly in place of) traditional advertising.
3. Utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Google+ to cultivate relationships with people who will be ambassadors of your brand. These platforms are a virtual block party, where your neighbors can be from any number of locations. *Like a block party, the goal of social media is not to sell; it is to connect. Our hope is that these connections will lead to sales organically.*
Do you employ these strategies already? What other strategies have worked for you in generating word-of-mouth advertising?