How to Arm Customers to Spread the Word

Up to this point, I have emphasized the Navel Model for creating a company worth talking about. It is critical that you do this piece first. As the great military strategist, Sun Tzu, once said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Most literature in the marketing realm is about tactics. In social media, people go right to Twitter and Facebook. In advertising they go right to the 30 second spot or the full page print ad. However, in order to have successful tactics, the strategic pieces need to be in place first.

Once you have created an organization worth talking about, the next step is to arm your customers to spread the word. It doesn’t matter what the medium is, the process remains the same. The six steps below work especially well in social media, but also work in public relations, advertising, direct marketing, or any other medium. The six steps below are also not linear but are circular because they are not always done in order. By implementing the steps below, you can better find your target influencers, arm them with tools to spread the word, and amplify their efforts.

  1. Publish – There is an argument in the social media space about whether content is king or conversation is king. The reality is that both are important for successful word-of-mouth. Content without conversation is advertising – it’s one way. Conversation with content is chatter. It is social media strictly for the social benefit. The first step is to publish great content. With all of the tools available today, there are many mediums you can use – it simply depends on your audience. If they have time to read and revisit often, then right a blog. If they are more inclined to download content and listen at a later date, then a podcast may be the best option. If they learn visually and your content is meant to be demonstrated, then produce a video series, or vidcast. For tools, check out WordPress, Libsyn, and YouTube. If you want to know what to write your content about, always think “educate and advocate.” Provide educational insights, how to’s, or insider information. When advocating, look to the cause you created in your Navel Model.
  2. Syndicate – Now that you have produced great content, step 2 is to find all the places you can share that content. Obviously, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other online communities are a natural fit, however, also consider how you can share this content in your advertising, PR, and direct marketing efforts. Link to it within your social communities. Use snippets in advertising. Use it to pitch editors to cover important topics about your company or industry.
  3. Integrate – The amazing thing about where technology has come from in the recent past is that today, everything talks to each other. That means you can spend less time and get better results from your efforts. By integrating your blog utility with your social communities, every time a new post is created on the blog, it can automatically be posted to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. Every time you Tweet it can update your status in Facebook, both your personal profile and your business pages. The key with integration is to amplify your efforts.
  4. Converse – Referring back to the argument under “Publish”, once you have great content, the next step is to talk about it. Talk about your content. Talk about others’ content. Talk about a recent lesson you learned in your business. The key is to talk. Dare to be human; to be more than just a brand. The more personal you can be, the more others will grow in affinity for your brand and share it with others.
  5. Help – This is the concept upon which social media was built – people helping people. The Golden Rule is as applicable in social media as anywhere else. The more that you help others, the more benefit you receive in return. This is where you solidify your customer evangelists. It can be something as simple as re-Tweeting their Tweets or something more complex, like writing a blog post about them. You can answer questions on LinkedIn (and syndicate by linking to your content) or you can comment on another person’s blog. These are all forms of help.
  6. Monitor – Lastly, one of the most powerful aspects of social media is that it is infinitely searchable. I can monitor conversations going on almost anywhere in the social web and (politely) engage in the conversation. I can measure how much chatter there is online about a particular brand. I can even automate monitoring so that I am instantly notified when a conversation is taking place. The ability to monitor online conversations is one of the most important aspects of the social web and the reason it is one of the fastest growing marketing mediums today.

With the six steps above, you create great content, share it in as many places as you can, make your technologies talk to each other, engage with others, be helpful, and monitor conversations in order to start the cycle all over again. If you have done your previous work, such as creating a position, cause, culture, and message, you’ll know what to share and converse about. While you may go through the Navel Model only once in a while, the above steps will be a daily to do list.

With the six steps above, you can adequately arm your customers to quickly spread your message for you. Which do you do already and which could you improve upon?

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3 thoughts on “How to Arm Customers to Spread the Word

  1. I think the danger here is that the whole web is becoming driven by “content for content’s sake”. Social media, blogs etc are great, however as people spend more time on “absurd on the face of it” tasks like “link building” through “articles sites” and the like there become more and more useless content out there. Everyone is a journalist without an editior! I personally blame google’s way of ranking sites for this.

  2. Interesting take, Promotional Products. While I agree there is an abundance of content, the big question both of us are asking is whether or not it is valuable. However, this is not an argument for not publishing, but to make your content meaningful. It all goes back to the Navel Model I mentioned in the post. Create content around your cause and it will be both passionate and compelling. Always ask how it adds value.

  3. I appreciate your post Brian. I think you’ve shared a golden egg with us (above). It’s also the kind of wisdom I’ve been searching for as I look out for my future career, while currently looking for ways to efficiently and meaningfully invest my online energies. I’m reflecting most days and trying to re-focus on my own personal Navel Model as you call it. FYI: I’ve been drawn to your branding and marketing conversations, and sometimes those of William Aruda too. FYI the url is to some current fundraising/volunteering I’m doing for TNT and LLS.org. Thank you!

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