According to a recent article in eMarketer, a recognized digital marketing authority, word of mouth marketing is critical for small business owners. I know. You already knew that. But the phrase, “word of mouth” means little unless it's applied specifically to your business. What words? What mouths? How do you expose the eyes and ears to the messages you want them to spread Well, the words could be heard in person at a trade show or craft fair where you sell your products, or they could be seen in an advertisement and spread from there.
It's great when happy customers spread the word naturally, but that usually doesn't happen often enough to sustain your business. You must originate most of the words that spread about your business, and that means using an email newsletter and/or a blog to start the conversation. After all, content is the new packaging. Here are 5 no-excuses online marketing formulas you can use in your blog or newsletter to generate positive word of mouth energy to propel your business forward.
While these formulas can be used for any business, they are especially designed for micro-business owners who sell handmade products they make themselves.
- Share what you made. Because they make products nearly every day, most handmade micro-business owners underestimate how interested people are in their manufacturing processes. While you may think that your techniques are well known or “old hat,” consider that if you make handmade products, no two are exactly alike. After making a new product, snap a photo of it with your smart phone. Post it quickly to FaceBook and Twitter, then take 10 minutes later in the day to share a little about the product, how you made it and when it will be available for sale.
Examples: Susan Manor of Manor Hall Soap, shares how she cuts new Grapefruit Spearmint soap and prepares it for curing. And check out Amy Fisher's post about soap inspired by Pantone's 2011 color of the year, a clever way to combine a newsworthy item with a product.
- Share the ingredients you use. This is easy, but admittedly, can be repetitive within your industry. Be as original as you can.
- Share where you went. From a craft show to the local farmer's market, share some of the interesting places you go during the week, and use a photographs you take yourself. Sometimes, you even take exotic or extended vacations that can be tied to your business in a fun way.
Examples: La Shonda Tyree shared here adventures on INDIE Cruise in this post. At her blog, Lela Barker of Bella Lucce shares photos in the midst of her trip to Phuket, Thailand.
You don't have to go to an exotic destination to do this either. For example, this post about a simple visit to my daughter's school for lunch generated a lot of discussion at my blog and FaceBook Page. See how much fun it can be to create opportunities to expose people to your products?
- Share what you learned. Last week, I went to Chick-Fil-A Leadercast. I Tweeted much of the event live using my iPhone, including the reasons Dave Ramsey says his business is so successful. (For example, here, here and here.) When I got a chance to sit down with my laptop, it took me 15 minutes to cut and paste the Tweets into A Summary of Dave Ramsey's Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Advice. Another great example is sharing what you learn from a book you are reading.
- Share where you work. People are always curious about where other people create. There's something about knowing the environment in which artists hone their craft that is fun and exciting to learn about.
Example: Emily Caswell of GCDSpa shows off her new studio under construction in this video post. And in this post, Tammy Brodbeck of Milk and Cookeez uses a simple photographs to show where she creates her handmade bath and body treats.
There! One for each weekday. Pick your favorites and alternate them. These types of things interest people, and if they see you as a source for information that interests they will look for it, enjoy it and share it.
It's Not Magic!
Remember, sales are made long before people ever get to your shopping cart. People don't just magically show up at your website simply because you make great products. You have to lure them there. Use these “no-excuses” formulas and You'll never be without a systematic way to engage existing and potential customers and drive more traffic to your website.
You Don't Have To Invent It Because It Happens Naturally
In each instance, you don't have to make anything up! The items you blog about just happen as a regular part of your life. They occur naturally, making it easy and fast for you to share them with your customers. All you have to do is get into the habit of tying some of your daily activities to your marketing outreach, snap a few photos, write a few words, and you're done!
Question: What do you think? What “no-excuses” marketing formulas have you used successfully?