In the 1960s, advertising was all about the faceless masses.
The idea was that you devise and build a product, throw it over the wall to the marketing department, who would figure out an angle, then engage in a marketing blitz. They'd try and get in front of as many eyeballs as possible, for the lowest CPM.
In the cynical, jaded 00's, advertising works on a more personal level. People are bombarded with messages, so instinctively tune most of them out. The most effective messages are those that people internalize, make personal, and pass on.
Traditional marketing looked like this:
Modern marketing looks more like this:
Who controls the message now?
The audience is no longer a passive recipient. The audience can pass a message on. They become a vector by which your message travels. If people don't pass your message on, chances are your message is dead.
The audience has control, because they have their hand on the remote, and on the mouse, so bombarding them or interrupting them no longer works. This is why companies try to engage people on a personal level, Google being a fine example.
Word of mouth, in other words.
Why Is Word Of Mouth King in 2009?
Word of mouth advertising is powerful because it resonates on a personal level, and it travels via established, personal networks. Those networks by-pass the mass marketing blitz, which people have long since tuned out, as those channels are low trust. They aren't trusted because they are impersonal, and politics in the 00's is all about me, me, me.
And my friends.
Word of mouth is how social media marketing is going to work. It isn't going to work using interruption or mass market techniques.
Review you message to see if it has a word of mouth quality. Is it remarkable enough for people to repeat to their friends?
Seth Godin, who I like to quote, because he puts his ideas in such a way as you want to repeat them, illustrates it like this:
This, in two words, is the secret of the new marketing.
Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you...
Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they'll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat.
If they don't love it, you need a new product. Start over.
Your idea spreads. Your business grows. Not as fast as you want, but faster than you could ever imagine.
This approach changes the posture and timing of everything you do.
You can no longer market to the anonymous masses. They're not anonymous and they're not masses. You can only market to people who are willing participants. Like this group of ten".
The thing I often find frustrating about Seth Godin is that he offers few practical examples. Perhaps his goal is to make us think.
Let's start with a checklist:
- Is you product or service remarkable? If not, can you twist and shape it so that it is? If not, start again.
- Who are the ten people in your niche who matter? Identify them. You need to spend your time and money being remarkable to them
- Who are the ten people who are really resonating with your brand? Survey them. Find out why they are attracted to your service. Give them tools and reasons to spread the word
One example that springs to mind is the MLM sales launch.
These launches often target trusted industry players first, who in turn spread the message to their readers. It's celebrity endorsement. The tools are the free giveaways and marketing collateral.
Social media marketing is going to work in much the same way. In social media, people listen to people, not networks. So find out who the ten people are you need to talk to, and make your message remarkable to them. Hopefully, they'll do the rest. Handing a bottle of expensive water to Paris Hilton was no doubt a good idea.
Check out this post on developing a social network platform. Notice how he integrates outside people into the internal processes of the company.
Perhaps that's the new version of MLM.....
Differences Between Word Of Mouth And Going Viral
One of the differences between word of mouth and going viral is that in order to go viral, people need to become part of the network in order to pass the message on.
Roelof Botha, the guy behind PayPal and YouTube points out:
Many people think the word "viral" is interchangeable with "word of mouth"--implying that the product or service is so good that people are compelled to talk it up with their friends. But there's more to it than that. Google and Amazon.com are both great Internet companies, but they aren't viral businesses....word of mouth is when I tell you to shop on Zappos because I think the service is great," explains Botha. "It becomes viral when you have to be ‘in the system’ to use it. For example I can post a video on YouTube but then you would need to go to the site in order to see it
Where Does SEO/SEM Fit?
But hang on, I hear you say. I'm an SEO/SEM, what does this have to do with me?
You're already slicing up the niche and targeting via keywords. But if you're buying clicks, or targeting SERPs, you're wasting a valuable opportunity if people visit your site and forget you the moment they click away. Perhaps that person didn't buy or sign up now, but they might tell someone else about you if your message resonates with them. Your message could then skip from the search channel into their closed social networks - Twitter, Facebook, et al - which increases your exposure and reach.
To do this, your message needs to be remarkable on a personal level.
Does your site convey such a message? If I click on it for the first time, do I know the one unique thing you do that no one else can? The problem you solve for me? And would I tell my friends about it? And will you provide me with the means/tools to do so?
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