Any marketing junkie will tell you the same thing – there is no greater marketing tool than word-of-mouth advertising. There is nothing more cost effective, more powerful or more important than good old fashioned word-of-mouth and yet, strangely, we ignore its most fundamental source.
Everyone thinks that word-of-mouth is generated by customers and as a consequence everyone is doing everything they can to get those precious referrals. Of course, customers do generate word-of-mouth and they do provide valuable referrals but customers are a secondary source of word-of-mouth and a pretty inefficient one at that.
It’s great to have a strategy in place to encourage your customers to give you referrals but if that is all you are doing then you are missing the boat in a very big way. The primary source of word-of-mouth is in fact… you!
I’m not talking about your actions either. I don’t mean that you generate word-of-mouth through the good service or brilliant product you provide for your customers. No, I’m talking about talking!
Business owners and senior executives should be taking every opportunity to speak publicly about what they do and how they do it. A single 20-minute speech can accomplish more than 6 months of traditional marketing. In that 20 minutes everyone can get to know you, what you do, why they should get in touch and how you can help them.
They can see you as a valuable expert who is willing to share information and they can see your brand personified. The upside is enormous so why don’t people do it? There is certainly no shortage of speaking opportunities which means it must be the people themselves that are the problem.
The obvious answer is a lack of confidence but I don’t think that the obvious answer is the right one this time around. Senior leaders and CEOs are generally not short on confidence (even in public forums). I think the real answer is that we fundamentally don’t appreciate the opportunity public speaking represents.
Public speaking is seen as a necessary evil rather than a natural extension of our marketing strategy. As a consequence, opportunities to speak are begrudgingly accepted rather than sought. Public speaking opportunities are given the lowest priority and often passed along to those who are ‘available’ rather than those who are ‘capable’.
Public speaking should be an integral part of your marketing strategy and suitable forums in which key individuals can promote your brand should be actively sought out. However… let me offer one word of warning. Remember that confidence in public speaking is merely a starting point. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you just need someone with the ‘gift of the gab’.
Like every other part of your marketing efforts strategy is vital. Content does actually matter more than delivery in a business context so make sure that in addition to people who can deliver your message you have an effective message to deliver!