Question: What’s better than hyping your own product?
Answer: Having a satisfied customer do it for you.
My friend Heather was previously using an real estate agent that was a tad on the pushy side. The agent did all those things that really cheese potential home buyers off, like suggesting homes way out of Heather’s budget. The agent basically tried to force Heather into buying a home out of her price range so that she could receive a higher commission. (She even suggested Heather borrow money from her parents to do it!)
Instead of helping Heather, the agent was most interested in helping herself.
So, I sent Heather over to my buddy Travis who is also a real estate agent. I’ve known Travis for a while, and he’s quite possibly the most laid-back person I’ve ever met. He did everything he could to make Heather feel comfortable, and went out of his way to help her. Because of his helpfulness and care, Travis eventually sold Heather a home that she loved.
Instead of using the previous agent’s tactics, Travis instead made her feel at ease. He didn’t try to upsell her, but only worked within the parameters that she had previously set. Because, when you buy something as freakin’ expensive as a house, you definitely want to be at ease with your decision. (There’s nothing worse than a few hundred thousand dollars worth of buyers remorse.)
But here’s the real kicker: Heather has since sworn that she’d refer anyone to Travis.
Now that’s Old Skool Word of mouth marketing.
Word of Mouth Marketing is Nothing New
We’re so caught up with social media these days. You have to have a Twitter profile. You have to have a Facebook fan page. LinkedIn, Youtube, and on, and on, and on. Follower counts are pivotal. Retweets are currency, et. al. Sure, these platforms can help you reach new potential customers, but focusing on the platform instead of the people is a sure way to fail.
Twitter, Facebook… it’s all word of mouth marketing: People talking about your product or service and referring it to friends.
On paper, my friend Travis has a stark disadvantage against other, more established agents. They have lots of marketing dollars, with their fake smiles flashed across billboards. Travis doesn’t really advertise, has zero “social media presence”, and only relies on friends and previous clients to spread his brand.
Yet at the end of the day, he’s making the sales. Oh, and at night he sleeps soundly knowing that he’s helping people, not looking out for himself.
Word of Mouth is NOT Social Media
With all the focus on social media these days, it feels like people are forgetting what makes the champions of these technologies so great. Organizations like Zappos have successfully used social media to sell more of their product. But if you look deeper, it’s not because of social media, it’s because they intensely care about their customers.
Story after story, (I love this one), has surfaced about how Zappos has gone the extra
mile 20 miles and made sure their customers were happy. Sure, social media has helped, but that’s because it’s an extension of how they care, another way to reach out to customers.
And it keeps people talking about their product.
So stop worrying about Twitter followers. Start thinking about how many people you can help, and how you’re going to do it. Use Twitter and Facebook to help everyone, not to flash authority.
And then people will start talking.
Glen Stansberry writes at LifeDev, a blog that helps people make their ideas happen. You can follow him on Twitter here.