Social Contesting – A new word of mouth marketing phenomenon

George Silverman, Duct Tape Marketing blog reader and author of the fabulous book The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, pointed out a word of mouth marketing trend in response to my post earlier today on contests.

He explains what he calls a Consumer Generated Contest (But, I’ve named it Social Contesting – since, even George claims that consumer generated contest isn’t very sexy – so, you heard Social Contesting here first!) Social Contesting is when a customer creates their own contest using your product or service or involving some way to make your product or service more useful or to help solve a greater problem. These contests take on a life of their own when the social media of blogs, rss and search are applied. Think of the implications of a contest that involved YouTube, Flikr or Digg. This is a really interesting idea.

From Silverman’s Blog:

“It’s a “Consumer Generated Contest.” CGC (You heard it here first – I”m looking for a better name). Its implications can be HUGE. A customer has stepped up and put up $100 into a PayPal account, inviting others to join in and contribute. Within a few weeks, it climbed to over $12,000, and got worldwide coverage in the blogs and technology press. Also, someone stands to make a lot of money from marketing the solution itself. As I’ve written before, it would cause sales of Macs to multiply.”

Full Entry Feeds

I’ve received numerous requests for the full entry of my posts to show up in my feed. Your wish is my command.

Landing Pages for Referrals

Landing pages are pretty standard fare these days – you run an ad in a publication and drive people to a landing page specifically designed to generate one response only – sign-up for a newsletter, enroll in a teleseminar, request a white paper.

What if you took this tool and designed a page on your website just for referrals. In other words, a page that you would share with your clients and strategic partners that they could use as a tool to refer your business. Instead of telling a potential referral to “check out” your web site, your referral sources would tell them to go to a specific page set-up to quickly greet them, educate them and acknowledge their status as someone who has been referred.

This simple personalization step will allow you to speak directly to this special visitor and even go as far as giving them a specific call to action. Knowing that your referral sources have this tool to use will also help make sure that the referrals you do receive are highly qualified.

Take the idea to the next level. If you have strategic partners that routinely refer prospects or ones that your would like to convince to routinely refer prospects, set-up a page just for them. Feature their logo and a welcome message just for their referred visitors. Once you create the template for this type of page, there is no reason you couldn’t create 10-12 of these and really add a professional touch to your referral process.

Here’s an example of a Referral Landing Page created by one of my strategic partners.

Google reveals the future

Google officially entered the software business last week with Google Pack- a suite of software offerings from Google AND others such as the Firefox Browser, Adobe Reader and Norton Anti-Virus. The entire pack of offerings can be downloaded and installed with a few clicks.

So, the only remaining question is. . . when do we get the word processor, spreadsheet and CRM tool with it?

Harness the Internet at Half Price

I’m teaching a course starting next Wednesday (10th) and running the following two Wednesdays where I will walk through ways for small business owners to harness the Internet to build their business, even a local business.

We will spend sessions discussing basic small business search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, blogs, RSS, email, ezines and other marketing automation strategies.

Participants receive a workbook for each session as well as an audio from each teleseminar and lots of resources.

I want to get some more participation in this important topic so I am cutting the price from $199 for all three sessions to $99 – Enroll here

Start Offline, Move Online

No matter how far this whole Internet thing comes, there will always be some great prospecting to be done offline. I don’t know maybe there will come a day when everybody shops and buys online, but right now, direct mail is enjoying a resurgence in effectiveness as more and more companies try to generate leads by way of email and other online advertising.

One of the best way to generate cost effective leads is to combine proven offline strategies with efficient online strategies.

Here’s my advice:

Go to SRDS.com and find a list of people who have purchased a product or service like yours, buy that list and send everyone on it a compelling offer. An offer found only on one page on your web site. (The page you advertise in your direct mail.) Capture the names and addresses of everyone that takes you up on your offer and start marketing the heck out of that list.

You can do this very same thing by running small, inexpensive classified ads in local paper or even USA Today. Make the reader an offer they can’t refuse and watch your web traffic and leads go through the roof.

Empower Your Marketing People

Let’s start with the assumption that anyone in your organization that comes into contact with a prospect or a client is a marketing person for your company. Like it or not, for good or bad, they are performing a marketing function with every interaction. So, why not give them to tools to do it well.

For today what I mean is this. Give everyone on your staff the ability to instantly correct a mistake or misunderstanding in a way that makes the client happy.

For instance, I made a purchase at a Radio Shack store and after I had completed the transaction the clerk noted that my purchase required batteries. Instead of requiring me to make a second purchase, he reached under the counter and grabbed two AA batteries and handed them to me free of charge. It wasn’t an under the table, don’t tell my boss kind of thing. You could tell is what done without hesitation as a gesture of service.

To some degree everyone in your organization should have the ability to right a wrong or fix something that doesn’t make sense, without having to pass the buck or call in the manager. I know some of you may be thinking that your employees will give away the store, so think it through and create some rules, but let them have some power to make customers feel good.

Guess what else will happen when you do this. Your people will immediately feel better about serving and will become much more solutions driven when they learn that you trust them with the tools to do their job.

Scott Allen on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast

I posted an interview with Scott Allen on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast today. Scott is the coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, published by the American Management Association. Have a listen!