Editor's note: Sorry for the long delay between posts the last week or so. I've been really, really, really sick with bubonic plague. Okay, it's bronchitis, but it's felt like the plague.
We’ve been talking about the power of word of mouth, and today we’re going to dive into one form of WOM called evangelist marketing. This phrase, made wildly popular by authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba in their book Creating Customer Evangelists, describes consumers who are so deeply excited about their experience with your brand that they simply can’t help but tell others about it.
Personally, I’m a Krispy Kreme evangelist. I once overnighted a dozen doughnuts to my stockbroker in Boston because she’d never had a hot original glazed….and that, in my mind, was a crime. I own two t-shirts, three mugs, and a pair of boxer shorts emblazoned with tiny little doughnuts. My mother once thought that I ate them every day because I talked about them so much. (For the record, I eat maybe four a month, and savor every melt-in-your-mouth bite).
McConnell and Huba write that there are six basic ways to create evangelists. We’re going to address the first three today, the second three tomorrow. But first, you must have a truly remarkable product or service. There must be something for people to talk about before you ask them to talk. At its heart, word of mouth is honest.
• Get continuous customer feedback. Are you constantly talking with your customers and asking them what they love about you? What they would change? What they value most about you? Mark Cuban, the billionaire business mogul, sits in the cheap seats at Dallas Mavericks games (he owns the team) and advertises his personal email address so people can reach him. How empowering to think that the owner of a huge enterprise is interested in what I have to say!
• Share your knowledge. Give it away. MIT, the venerable educational ivory tower, shares class notes and lecture notes for its classes online. Result? Booming enrollment numbers and increased research opportunities. What can you give away that your customers will value?
• Reach the hubs. There are people out there, like Oprah, who are exceptionally well-connected and wield influence over others. When Oprah says that she loves a certain book or puts an item on her coveted O List, sales go through the roof. These hubs don’t have to be megacelebrities – they’re also community leaders, industry associations, etc. One survey I read stated that the most connected hubs are part of nine networks. Who are the influential people in your pool of customers that can spread the word?
What are you an evangelist about? What would you love to overhear one of your customers saying about you? How can you start the conversation?