I’ve spent many years honing my marketing strategy. I pride myself on effective newsletters, know how to make Facebook ads work in my favor, and am constantly planning my next lead magnet. While there are many marketing channels I have control over, the best kind of marketing is something you can’t buy: word-of-mouth marketing.
If someone needs to take their car into a repair shop and their friend recommends a mechanic, that’s the best advertising the mechanic could ever ask for. We’re probably going to trust our friend’s recommendation more than we trust any amount of research or advertising we encounter on our own. But what happens to word-of-mouth marketing when we aren’t spending as much time with our friends or family?
End of an era?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of extended social distancing. I used to get a lot of recommendations from my friends at the gym — but I certainly haven’t been spending a lot of time at the gym now. We aren’t lingering at coffee shops or eating lunch with our coworkers in break rooms right now. Those casual recommendations people used to give out aren’t so common anymore. So, what can businesses do when the most powerful form of marketing just got harder to tap into?
Personally, I don’t think word-of-mouth marketing has completely disappeared. As business owners, we need to pay more attention to where our best recommendations come from. For example, have you checked in on your influencers recently?
How’s your network doing?
I’m not talking about social media influencers — though if you have those, that’s a whole different conversation. These are the people I call “joint ventures.” For me, these are people who sell phone systems, copiers, or internet circuits. They sell something tangentially related to my business, and their clients are likely to need data security services. Software developers are some of my best joint ventures. If someone needs new software, they certainly will need help protecting that data.
These people recommend me to their customers, and in turn, I recommend them to mine. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. You need to have good relationships with your joint ventures and keep this network tight. I have a recurring notification on my calendar to remind me to call my joint ventures once a month and get lunch. I also send them newsletters and emails to stay top of mind with them. You need to nurture those relationships.
Staying in touch with your network isn’t the only way you can improve your word-of-mouth marketing. A lot of the recommendations we get from friends and family come from the digital space. This means you need to get serious about your digital marketing strategies. Here are three things you need to be doing to thrive in the digital space:
1. Offer premium content.
The internet is a crowded place. Anyone with a keyboard and a Wi-Fi connection can start a blog. There’s a lot of content online and, to put it nicely, most of it isn’t great. In digital marketing, prospects will form their opinion of you based on the quality of the content you offer. Is your blog full of useful resources, or is it all recycled clickbait? Are there typos in your Facebook ads? Are your email headlines so weak that they get sent straight to spam?
Your content needs to be great, so you shouldn’t be writing it yourself. I don’t care if you got an A on that essay you wrote in college. You’re running a business, which means you don’t have time to write enough to be good at it. Hire a professional to write your content. Do you think I write this whole newsletter myself? I have a business to run! I have a professional writer who helps me put together the content I use for my business. I don’t have to spend time writing anything myself, and I know it will get done well.
Remember that good content doesn’t come cheap. If you want premium content, invest in a good freelance writer who knows your industry and your needs.
2. Develop strong lead magnets.
If you aren’t already using lead magnets, you’re way behind in the game. Lead magnets are an effective way to build your list for digital marketing. We’re bombarded with a lot of information online, so it’s doubtful that someone will want to do business with you based on one Facebook ad. But if you can get someone to give you their email in exchange for a digital download or access to a valuable webinar, then you can get them into your drip marketing campaign.
I launched a new lead marketing campaign in September and have been pretty happy with the results. I hosted an event to teach people how to migrate their business to the cloud and added several new names to my list. Like any marketing, developing a strong lead magnet takes time. You have to know what your prospects are looking for to get them to sign up. (Check out the article on Page 2 to learn more about creating a successful lead magnet.)
3. Hire someone to oversee your digital marketing.
Here’s another area where you need to bring in a professional. I don’t know which of my readers need to hear this, but you don’t have time to run your own marketing. Yes, you should be aware of your marketing plans and come up with new ideas for them. No one knows your company better than you do. But when it comes to the day-to-day details of digital marketing, it’s far more productive to let someone else handle the work. You have more important things to do than conduct SEO keyword research or respond to comments on your latest Facebook post.
I’ll be upfront about this: being successful in digital marketing isn’t easy. Following these strategies will help you get started, but you’ll still need to figure out what works for your company. The same goes for building a network and connecting with joint ventures. When you first start, you’ll make a lot of mistakes. I know because I’ve made all of those mistakes myself.
I’ve been doing this for many years. When it comes to marketing of any sort, I’m the guinea pig, and I’ve learned through trial and error. For every $10 I’ve spent, about 50 cents worked out. Mistakes are inevitable, but fear of making those mistakes shouldn’t stop you from getting started.
The biggest mistake you can make is to never get started.
P.S. Speaking of mistakes, have you changed your compromised passwords yet? I’ve made it simple for you to get started, just visit www.changeyourpasswordsnow.com.