It’s an interesting question that WattPad’s Allen Lau thrust into the spotlight last week with an insightful blog post that traditional marketing makes no sense for most online companies. Allen argues the most effective marketing for consumer Web companies is worth of mouth.
In theory, word of mouth is a great option because it’s cost-efficient and effective given the personal nature of a recommendation. People trust people, not brands.
There are some key issues for word of mouth to work its magic.
First, the product has to delight.
It must meet a need in a user-friendly, straightforward and easy way. It can be no-frills or oozing with bells and whistles. Either way, it has to do the job to make the customer’s personal or professional life better, more productive, profitable, etc.
Second, you have to arm your customers with the ability, tools and encouragement to share the love.
It’s one thing to have a product that delights, it’s another to embed the product and the product experience with the power of share-ability. In other words, make it dead simple for someone to spread the word without going through many hoops, spending a lot of time or doing a lot of work.
This could involve social sharing tools, quick online forms to tell a friend, writing about customers on your blog, celebrating their successes in your newsletter and, heck, even taking them out for dinner (a la Freshbooks).
Whatever the tools or approaches, the goal is arming your users so they can become your marketing machine. For B2C companies that want to maximize their marketing activities, it’s always a good thing to get other people to do the grunt work.
This isn’t to suggest other marketing approaches are the wrong choices or won’t bear fruit but having lots of customers who are happy to willing to share the marketing load makes life a lot easier.
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