Borrowing From Andy

Andy Sernovitz is a passionate advocate for Word Of Mouth Marketing (WOM) and his book Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking is a must read for all niche ecommerce retailers.

So how does small retailer with a limited marketing budget ignite a following?

The first thing to seriously consider is the caliber of the product.  No amount of WOM helps an ill-conceived idea.  The second step is to concentrate on finding evangelists (an article about finding evangelists).

Alright, now that you’ve done the groundwork and identified a nice list of passionate customers you need to dream up creative ways of using them as brand propagators.  Here are two ideas:

Give away one item for free
Pecard prides itself on being an awesome leather horse saddle polish.  Mary, who lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan is an evangelist who orders on a regular basis.  The polish itself is inexpensive ($4) but matching shipping costs make it unattractive for the non-Marys of the world.  So, next time Mary orders I’d send her two free bottles accompanied with a hand-written note requesting she share the polish with a close friend.  Passionate horse lovers almost always know other passionate horse lovers.  If next month you find a mysterious new order from Ypsilanti, Michigan you’ll know your strategy worked.

Get evangelists to sign up as spokesmen – I love my dry-cleaners and if they made a local TV commercial I’d be more than happy to endorse them in front of a camera.  So, if you sell great bonsais ask your evangelists if they’d mind being local references.  Those who want to participate could even provide their email addresses and give on-the-fence customers a good reason to buy.  If you think asking for an email address is a little extreme just remember people do it all the time on message-boards.

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