Have you ever seen the musical Jesus Christ Superstar? Remember that song, “What’s the Buzz?” I think that’s when the term buzz first became an important part of popular culture.
Buzz is simply conversations about your business: conversations between you and a customer, among customers, and between customers and non-customers. And every business – large or small, online or offline – wants buzz.
How do you create buzz?
Human beings are social animals and love to talk. We love to talk about things we buy and are thinking about buying. One research firm, Keller Fay, estimated that there are over 3.5 billion conversations about brands in the US every day. Each and every day! That means that basically, each American mentions one brand or another to someone else about ten to twenty times per day.
So the question becomes: how can YOUR brand be one of the brands being discussed? Most people think – and it’s true – that buzz (aka Word of Mouth) happens organically: if a store, a service, or a product is high quality, well priced, and accessible, people will naturally talk about it. But, it’s also true that you can increase the chances that your small business will be part of the buzz by following a few simple steps.
In this post, I’ll go over the first three steps to starting a buzz marketing campaign.
First, you need to think about goals for your buzz marketing campaign. Sure, to say ‘I want more buzz’ is a goal. But a good goal is specific and measurable. Setting a goal allows you to focus on one aspect of your small business and to be able to track whether that part of the business is improving.
Here are some ideas of specific goals for a buzz campaign:
– increase monthly visits to our website by 20%
– have three new customers visit our store each week looking for a specific product that only we offer
– generate four new leads per employee each month
– increase sales of a specific product or service by 10% over the next three months.
The second step is to identify people that you’d like to talk about your business. Think about those people who are loyal patrons of your business. If you run a small retail business, for example, think about the people who come in regularly to shop there…hopefully, you’ll know them by sight or by name. The folks who sign up for your newsletters (either offline or online) or are part of your ‘frequent buyer’ program are another good choice. Ask your employees who they think would be good advocates for your business. You’ll probably come up with a good-sized list of prospects to be part of your word of mouth campaign.
Once you’ve identified these people, the next step is to ask them to talk about your business to their friends, families and coworkers. I’m always surprised to hear about the number of businesses who know who their best customers are, but have never asked them to help with a buzz campaign. Many of your customers will be happy to help you. The reasons are simple: most people talk about brands anyway, and being able to talk positively about your store makes your customers seem like experts to their friends and family. It’s a bit of an ego boost to be ‘in the know’ about a small business, and to be able to share that with others.
You can ask them personally when you see them, with a phone call, with an email or a postcard to your mailing list, or with a notice in your newsletter or other communication. Give them specific things you’d like them to talk about, such as:
-“We’d love your help in introducing your friends and family to this exciting new product.”
-“Thanks for coming in today…please come back and tell your friends about us too!”
-“We’ve added some new things at our website…check them out and if you like them, we have a button on the site where you can let your friends and family know about the information”
And of course, a little incentive doesn’t hurt either:
-“Here’s a few of our business cards; if your friends bring them in, I’ll give them a 10% discount on a purchase. And I’d love to give you 10% off this purchase today.”
Next time I’ll be talking about keeping the buzz going once you get it started.
|About Kim Sheehan
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August 26th, 2009 at 9:28 pm
Your advice is so simple, but I think we do forget that creating buzz can be that easy. Often we look for something outrageous or attention-grabbing to try to create buzz, but just asking can go a long way.
A few years ago I had some printing done by a print shop. They asked me by email if I would please recommend them, and if I would email them a testimonial. I was happy to do so and find it interesting that no other business that I frequent has asked me to do so. Simple and effective. Try it, it works!
September 4th, 2009 at 3:04 pm
Deborah, you’re so right…I think we do tend to overthink w.o.m. sometimes, trying to find the most exciting or novel thing to get people talking. For small businesses (or really any business!) simple is usually better.