Thursday, January 7, 2010

#128 - A new way to encourage Word of Mouth

What's the biggest challenge facing every marketer (of anything) using the Internet today? In my humble opinion, it's the fact that everyone expects everything to be free. Perceived value has become a critical core issue. Once you've given a thing away, how do you go back and ask consumers to pay for it? Just look at the major newspapers struggling with this question right now.

To some extent, the Internet is still heavy into the process of cannibalizing traditional media - and I mean newspapers and TV. The mass public is more convinced than ever that information, and possibly, entertainment, should be commodities. As a lifelong journalist, I see the trouble that's been brewing with mass media as ironing itself out over time while the entire industry undergoes a massive sea change. Yet, I'm quite excited by all the possibilities coming to the fore right now.

Just How Free is Free?
Many businesses today feel forced to give things away for free. If they don't, they fear prospective customers will just go elsewhere to find the same information. This is even true for simple bloggers, like me, out here on our own time and on our own dime. But this doesn't apply strictly to giving away information. It also applies to giving promotional discounts on products and free Internet downloads.

The real dilemma is how to create a system whereby users gain access to a giveaway but only if they decide to promote the product or service. After all, if they find value in what a company offers, then it seems fair that they should promote it to others if they receive something for free. Remember that old adage, "there's no such thing as a free lunch?" Well, perhaps it's time to remind consumers (and marketers) that this still rings true.

SachiStudios sent me an interesting challenge via email today and that's what started me thinking. They recommended Tweet Promo Builder: to me. And, no, I received nothing for free in return, and the sales message in the email was not something applicable to my work. I chose to write about the tool and their sales pitch because they intrigued me. I think their idea is noteworthy to anyone in marketing.

Here's how the plan works:

1. A user or consumer visits your page or web site. There, you offer them a promo code or a file that they can download for free. However, in order to gain access to the material - be it a music file, white paper, an ebook, or whatever - they then send out a "tweet" on your behalf that you just required them to send through Tweet Promo Builder.

2. Once someone opts in, their tweet featuring your promotional message is posted on their Twitter feed to be seen by all their followers. Then, using Twitter's own API, the system immediately confirms that this tweet was actually sent.

3. Once the tweet is sent, the user instantly gets access to your promo code or your file to download. Do you think this will work for you? It sounds like a concept worth trying out. The power in it is no longer having to give something away - for free. There is a quid pro quo when the end user promotes you to others - or is there? I think it depends upon what you're giving away, who your target audience is, and whether or not Twitter is really the right medium for you. The criteria for deciding which types of products this is suited to is the basis for a separate blog post entirely.

In theory, this process would perpetuate itself by creating word-of-mouth that continues on and on and on. They promote you and all their followers see the message. Some of their followers are interested enough to check you out, opt into the same promotional message and thus promote you to their followers, and so it continues.

Relationship building is still king
Another benefit would be building relationships with everyone who tweets for you. You simply follow up with them and ask for some feedback. Why did they download that offer? Did they find it valuable? Are they interested in other services or products you offer? As always, social media is a great relationship-building tool. But, it all comes down to the follow-up. (Insider tip of the day: those who fail at social media generally fail to follow up.)

I'd love to hear from any reader or business that has actually tried this new technique. Is it working for you? My early blogs have already given away the fact that I am not a huge Twitter fan. I may even have inferred way back when that Twitter is just a fad that will give way (in another year) to the next big thing. Guess what? I'm OK with admitting it when I am wrong. While I go back to the proverbial blog drawing board, feel free to sound off on your own experiences with Twitter and Tweet Promo Builder.

Color me curious yellow!

TOMS Shoes

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