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Marketing Challenge: Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About

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We've seen many word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing campaigns help companies or people get more contacts or sales than they can handle. But how do we generate this buzz ourselves?

Once a good idea is used, it doesn't always succeed a second time, like the Million Dollar Homepage on which a British student sold each pixel for $1 to help pay for his college education. He made over 600,000 pounds, or roughly $1,056,000.

Businesses can still generate successful WOM campaigns without a whacky idea. The book Buzzmarketing is one great resource for learning about past campaigns and discovering what elements are needed to make a campaign spread like crazy.

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Previous Challenge: How to best use word of mouth—WOM it!

I've been reading about word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing and find it fascinating. I'd like to hear from readers their stories and experiences with WOM. What elements make a word-of-mouth campaign successful?

—Hannah, marketing

The responses we received touch on different ways to turn up the buzz. Buzzmarketing and other books on word of mouth list the ingredients to create a WOM campaign. Meanwhile, Eddie Goldenberg, creative planner with Promarket in Israel, provides two things he believes are essential in a WOM campaign:

The first one: mystery. Creating the atmosphere of mystery is the key element to make people intrigued. Give them a few hints and allow them to continue to explore themselves. Everybody wants to solve the mystery.

The second, being in or out of the circle. Do not allow everyone to get involved too easily. The successes of HBO programs' buzz were related heavily to the fact that the programs were not for everyone. Create a world where those who KNOW are part of an exclusive circle, and those who don't are still part of the blind herd.

An excellent example of limiting the product is when Google got many people craving a Gmail account. When the company launched Gmail beta, it limited accounts to invitation only. Soon, people auctioned off the accounts.

Denise Turner, owner of iZZon photography, uses her product to help create the inner circle and build WOM:

We are a small home-based photography studio that rarely advertises outside the telephone book and Internet. For our senior high school clients, we take one of their portraits and print it on the back of our business cards. The senior has a great image to share with friends and promotes iZZon photography through word of mouth. It works great, even for a small fry like us.

What Turner touched on is the key to building a WOM campaign: Focus on building relationships. Scott Seroka, vice-president of Seroka & Associates, Inc., explains how:

Find a way to connect with your customers and provide value to them above and beyond the norm of what's expected. Remember something about them on a personal level and use it to your advantage to create the "extra" in extraordinary. It takes minimal effort and time compared to finding new customers, and it will pay off exponentially. When your customers brag about you, you know you've made it!

One example of this is giving customers "lagniappe," in other words, a little something extra. A car dealer sends free movie passes to customers who bought a car. A salesperson in a small gift shop sends handwritten thank-you notes to customers. Some mail order businesses add a few extra items when they send packages.

Next time you're working on a WOM idea, try a little mystery or exclusiveness, focus on building the relationship and add a little something extra. It's a challenging way to market, but the rewards are plentiful when you hit on the right idea.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?

Paying for traffic—no tickets involved here

I've been to traffic-for-sale Web sites, as I'm working on a way to get traffic in an organic manner. However, I'm researching on how to get instant traffic as well. How effective is paying for traffic and how do you go about finding the right places to buy traffic?

—Ian, SEO marketing

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Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.

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