Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Buzz Marketing and Advocates under your Nose

An advocate is someone that tells others about the benefits of using something and encourages others to use the product or service. Wouldn’t it be great if you had 10 people out their strongly advocating you? If you are looking for advocates among people you do not know well, then you have a lot of hard work in front of you. However, there is another group that many small and mid-sized businesses overlook: Employees. If your current work culture says employees work a set time limit on a set of tasks, and does not take into consideration the extended network of people each employee knows, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Employees in the right environment and with the right encouragement will create buzz and word of mouth for their organization. They need to understand that buzz is everyone’s responsibility and they have to have success stories and good information that will help them create buzz more easily. This phenomenon is called Employee Evangelism. Some key strategies that can help you begin an employee evangelism movement in your organization are:
  • Let people know how and why you want to do it, and how it will benefit them.
  • Create a Buzz Guide that spells out the do’s and don’ts of creating buzz.
  • Publish and distribute success stories, company information and interesting trivia to employees and customers. Encourage them to share it.
  • Publicly recognize employees that create buzz.
  • Encourage reporting of buzz efforts.
  • Set a goal of a minimum number of buzz attempts each week.
  • Encourage employees to become experts in a given field.

If you do those things, and also give your advocates clear examples and instructions on buzz tools, you will find your business growing quickly. Some examples of buzz tools are:

  • Blogging
  • Podcasts
  • News sites where you can post news, such as www.digg.com
  • Email follow-ups with stale connections
  • Build a Squidoo lens
  • Bookmark company pages with social bookmark tools like del.icio.us
  • Hand out coupons to people they know

There are 100’s of variations of this kind of buzz creating opportunity. The most important thing to remember is that one or two of these things occasionally is not going to do much. If you successfully build a culture of buzz and a culture where every employee feels like they are responsible for the success of the organization, then you will be able to sustain the buzz effort and eventually hit a crucial mass where you have customers lining up for what you have to offer. The best part of this whole thing is that this technique costs less than traditional marketing and advertising and word of mouth is shown to be one of the most effective and influential mediums to get your message out to potential customers. It is well worth the extra effort, and in a relatively short period of time it will be paying off.