You may or may not have heard the term “Viral Marketing”, but I bet you’ve seen it in action. Block long lines outside of a new Krispy Kreme grand opening, X-boxes being released at midnight that draw crowds of thousands, the buzz about the Blair Witch project movie a few years back, and even the spread of low-advertising internet sites like http://www.evite.com/ . Viral Marketing is another term for “Word of Mouth Advertising” that takes on a life of its own. You produce the product or service, and the customers themselves sell it for you.
Have you ever wondered why some restaurants with consistent hour long waits for seating don’t just start taking reservations? Well, those restaurants probably never will because they know the marketing power that long lines have. It’s called “social proof”, and it’s a great strategy for viral marketing. Create the allusion that “everyone is doing it”, and people think well “I better too, or I’ll miss out”.
There’s a children’s camp run only for a few weeks each summer on one of the islands in the Northwest here. I first heard about the camp about 5 years ago. It’s a “Pirate Camp” where boys and girls go and do pirate stuff all day. There is no web site, no phone number, no advertisements of any kind – and, the camp is located an hour’s drive, plus a ferry ride from the city, of which the parents either have to pay for overnight lodging for themselves, or drive their kids that commute every day. This camp is packed! Nobody can get in. The waiting list is 2 years long, and you can only get on the list if you know someone already on it to give you a copy of the form! This year the price of the camp is $650 for one week! For that price, I told my kids I’ll bury you some treasure on the beach myself and call it done. But, those who have attended rave about it, and cry when their kids are too big to go. Now that is viral marketing!
So, how can you create viral marketing in your business? Extravagant events like grand openings and launches may not fit your time and budget constraints, so an easier, do-right-now strategy is to start the virus by collecting and using powerful testimonials.
Testimonials are one of the best ways to improve your response rate in your marketing. Once collected they are an asset that can be used over and over to show others how much in demand your service is. Prospects are much more likely to listen and believe your features and benefits “from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak. You can use testimonials on your web site, in your printed materials, in your newsletter, in press releases, as referrals, as part of the “ten reasons why you should choose this company”, and even hold a contest for your clients on the best ones received.
The surprising result of testimonial collection is that many owners are reluctant to ask, for fear of what might be said. But, in fact, it’s usually a much better experience then you might think. Here are some tips on collecting testimonials for your business.
O.K. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t take this opportunity to ask you for testimonials on me. (shameless, aren’t I?) Do you like reading the newsletter? Do you get inspired with new ideas? Have you tried any of the ideas, and got great results? I do hear from quite a few of you all of the time, and really appreciate it. So please send me more of your thoughts, and if I post your testimonial I will use your company name, city and in some cases your web link, on my high-ranking web site. We’ll grow together.
Go forth and market!