By John Jerome
What? You want to grow your business? You want to sell more of your product or services? You really aren’t so attached to your inventory that you actually want to get it out of the warehouse? But you’ve already force-fed all of your current clients, friends, family and anyone else walking by all the upgrades, enhancements or revisions they can handle—and now you’re thinking where can I find the next sucker…er…I mean client.
Well, that’s simple, put together a comprehensive marketing campaign and you’ll be covered up with new clients. What, you don’t have any money? And you need faster results then the typical 4-8 months it takes for a marketing effort to really start working? Hmmmm, well why should you be any different. Ok, here’s a solution.
Use the Internet and deploy a Viral Marketing Campaign.
First, what is viral marketing? It’s word-of-mouth marketing. Another term for it is “referral” marketing.
Here’s a definition I got from another source: Viral Marketing is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.
Viral marketing depends on a high pass-along rate from person to person. If a large percentage of recipients forward something to a large number of friends, the overall growth snowballs very quickly. If the pass-along numbers get too low, the overall growth quickly fizzles.
Hotmail was widely identified as the first example of viral marketing over the Internet, but we always used to include a viral campaign in every one of our strategies even before the Internet existed.
· It is easier to sell an existing client than have to create a new one.
· It costs 4 times as much to develop a new client than build your current ones.
· It costs 10 times as much to develop a new client like your best client.
· Everyone likes to feel like the decisions they make are right.
· The average sales call cost $1,850
Awareness is still the first step in selling
If you don’t have the $$$ to expand your awareness, then go to places that are already aware of you. Go to people who already like your product and service. Go to people who already have an emotional commitment to you. And ask them to refer you to their associates.
Referral marketing is very effective. Typically people in a specific job know people in other companies that are in the same job. Add to that human nature—we all like to believe we’re right and the way to validate that belief is to have other around us make the same decisions we’ve made and voila all of the sudden you’re getting a whole bunch of new and pre-qualified leads. Now all you have to do is to contact them, but if you’re really smart you’ll have the client do a virtual introduction to their associate. So now not only do have a potential new client who is the right decision making position and who has a need, but you’ve got instant credibility because you’ve been introduced. As the old saying goes…it’s not what you know, it’s who.
A virtual introduction is as easy as connecting two people via e-mail: “Bob, I think Sandra Blstspk is a gal you should know. She’s done marvelous things for us and I think she could help you, too. Sandra, meet Bob. He’s part of a terrific company and I think that the two of you would like to get to know one another.” Your client isn’t making a commitment, he’s creating an opportunity for a couple of friends. And letting them take it from there.
What do the experts say about creating a successful Viral Marketing effort?
1. Offer an incentive
2. Don’t consider the referral an opt-in
3. Personalize your communication
4. Track and analyze your results
5. Continually promote referrals
What do you need to have?
1. Happy clients who are willing to refer you
2. Great customer service
3. A superior product
4. An effortless way for them to participate
5. A way to automate the process and track results
Here is a more detailed explanation of a couple of key points
We are all getting pretty sick and tired of being spammed all the time. We don’t want more junk in our e-mail boxes. A good referral starts with getting the referee to accept (or Opt-In) to receiving information from you. The virtual introduction will help this happen, but you still need to talk to them to ask their permission.
Most referral-marketing experts suggest that an incentive is necessary, they typically suggest some type of cash incentive. This I believe is kind of an easy way out. Yes, in typical direct marketing we all know the incentive is key to success, but if you want highly qualified leads, ones that will turn into real business, they are more likely to come from having good relationships and happy clients than from bribing someone to say something nice about you.
Personalized Communications (next big trend in business)
Effective referral, or should I say viral marketing, comes more from understanding human nature and having great customer relationships. Remember, everyone likes to feel important; they like to feel like an individual and that you’re catering specifically to them. If you’re doing this, then they will want to tell their friends about you.
The next revolution
I’ve been working with a company with some very cool technology. They are in restart-up mode but their technology solves this issue in the most effective way I’ve ever seen it done. It provides the tools necessary to create viral marketing campaigns among many other things. It allows you to automatically, yes I mean automatically, create ongoing relationships with your customers, but it’s done by personalizing messages from you to them. Each message is automatically (there’s that word again) customized to their unique interests and again is automatically (one more time) sent out on a pre-determined basis. One of their product features is a referral marketing component that not only asks the customer to refer you but it provides a pre-written message for the virtual introduction that the customer can just send out or, if they would rather, they can create their own message. And the messages are from the customers’ computer to their referral-ee’s computer, well at least that is how it’ll be perceived. And it’s affordable. It’s kinda like a viral marketing engine on steroids.
“Direct Marketing is evolving every day; in some cases, it seems that we have come full circle. A few years ago, there was the rush to telemarketing, and then came the rush to the Internet. Now marketers are starting to understand that all of these – telephone, mail, internet, e-mail, so-called ‘new media’ – are simply alternative channels that enable direct contact with a customer.”
Audrey Price-Dix, Assegai Awards Chairman
How we communicate with our customer is changing, and the companies who effectively mine their customers are the ones who’ll expand their customer base and create new businesses. [24×7]
Who is John Jerome?
John Jerome runs Jerome & Associates, recognized as one of the leading marketing strategy firms in the nation.
Jerome& Associates provides strategic marketing solutions for positioning and repositioning companies, helping to define and differentiate market opportunities, target audiences, price points, competition, market position, and detail out the campaign strategies necessary for companies to accomplish their goals.
10425 113th Pl NE
Kirkland, WA 98033