3 ways to break down Word-of-Mouth

We have long known the value of word-of-mouth. While word-of-mouth has always been done the same way since we’ve learned to talk and socialize in such forms as a person-to-conversations as in the city square’s since forever, or over-the-phone interactions since 1961, the internet has provided a much faster way to share our opinions about the stories from people or brands that touches our emotions, needs or demand.  However: even today offline Word-of-Mouth consists of more than 90 % of all conversations.

The rise of social media where people are sharing their opinions and others’ opinions the agree or disagree with, or are inspired by,  in close-knit communities is changing the context of word-of-mouth from the primary social interaction between two people who knows each other well and trust each other, to engagement between total strangers, or between people who only know each other online.

However, I don’t personally regard the online and offline word-of-mouth as an either/or situation – even though only a dismal 10% are happening online, this is where a lot of my work is done and inspiration found. And those 10 % gives an extremely good outlook for the remaining 90 % (business talk: enormously large focus-group anyone ?) I have always regarded the digital world as an extension of the real world. Each complements the other. You hear from a friend about this product holding great promise and then you read reviews of it online before you make your purchase. Or someone from your social network forwards you a great viral advert and you showed it to your hubby over dinner. Or you walk into a clothing store, find a great pair of sneakers and go home and buy them online. Yeah that happens a lot these days.

I think the only reason why this online vs. offline debate continues to linger is because online word-of-mouth is much easier to measure than the offline. We’ve got tools to track brand mentions from brand conversations to following word-of-mouth on social networks so companies can gauge consumer sentiments – whether positive or negative – on 24/7 basis. On the other hand, offline measurement of word-of-mouth is so much harder to obtain and, it usually relies on asking people to remember conversations on a certain brand they have had, a costly and time-consuming endeavor within the time-compressed virtual world..

Given the inherent advantage of measuring online word-of-mouth as opposed to the overwhelming dominance of offline word-of-mouth in terms of sales, I have tried to tame the tiger and identified three forms of word-of-mouth that business leaders should understand in order to have a fighting chance – experiential, consequential, and intentional.

I think the most powerful and common form of word-of-mouth is the experiential as it results from consumers’ direct experience from brands. It is worth noting that people rarely complain or praise a brand for performing what’s expected but will go out of their way when the experience deviates from the expected. Criticisms when airlines lose luggage are classic instances of experiential word-of-mouth (United breaks guitars anyone ?) negatively affecting brand sentiment and reducing the effect of positive word-of-mouth from other sources. Of course, positive word-of-mouth resulting from exceptional service will generate windfalls for the brand.
But marketing activities can also trigger word-of-mouth, the most common of which is the consequential word-of-mouth. It occurs when people are exposed to traditional marketing campaigns, such as t.v., pass on messages about the ads or the brand they broadcast. The impact of these handed down messages is often more compelling than the direct effect of the advert as marketing campaigns that trigger positive word-of-mouth have relatively higher campaign reach and influence.

And the least common form of word-of-mouth is intentional as when business use celebrity endorsements to generate excitement around the brand. Before the advent of social media, only a few brands ever invest in intentional word-of-mouth because its effects and execution are hard to measure. Today, however, the shift of power from the brand to the increasingly opinionated consumer has forced the companies to look for brand advocates to amplify the brand within a given community.

At the end of the day, the vast expanse of opportunities that brands have to connect with their peers to boost awareness, appreciation and conversation with the goal of increasing sales doesn’t occur in the online world as many marketing pundits would have us believe. I like to emphasize that, sure, online is also important. But where the real sales are created – that’s offline. It’s where real stories are created and lived because that’s where we live and breathe.

Babystepping your way to make a living off your passion

Is it even possible for ALL of US to have our passions be our main source of income?  Can you make a living off your passion?

Sure, we’ve been hearing a lot of stories about the few lucky people striking their pots of gold, sometimes making us bright red with pangs of bitterness, but is it really possible for the average you and me? Or are those who made it to their promised land really have the grand scheme of the universe going for them?

Well, after years of doing business unusual, I have good news for you…

I’m sure that there’s something that you love doing, or even business ideas you’d been developing that someone else would be happy to pay top dollar for, right at this moment. But if that’s the case then why is it that 80% of the working people are resigned to jobs they can barely swallow?

Why?

The simple truth is that it’s not easy. And most people aren’t really prepared to give up their salary…

Yeah, rockers, following your passions and trying to make a living out of it means not working for those stable employers (though it’s possible) and getting your regular paycheck every two weeks. Instead, you got to figure out how to make money on your own. That’s the hard part. This is why most people would just grudgingly settle for the paycheck.

Of course, I know the why of it all still remain unanswered. Why can some people invite the sort of enviable success, a fortunate few even jumping seamlessly from one passionate venture to the next, achieving all sorts of achievement, while the unfortunate majority can’t even take that first step to find their passions, and build the same profitable careers out of it? Is there some voodoo or mystical mantras behind it all?

As it turns out, passionate people live not by their passions alone but they seem to possess the uncanny ability to know what’s actually possible. They have an open, wide view of the steps they need to take, so they just dive headfirst to whatever creative idea that excites them in any given moment.

But the rest of the world seems too absorbed with bills to pay that the most spectacular ideas are often smothered inside the creative minds of the average Joe without ever seeing the light of day. It’s sad, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

You agree?

Let me start by telling you that you don’t have to give up your day jobs just so you can pursue your passions. By all means, keep your jobs to pay the bills but delegate enough time to tinker around. After all, if an idea or product evokes so much emotion, then you won’t even notice the amount of time you spent perfecting whatever it is that inspires you.

The next step lies in removing the barriers within your mind.  One of the most common hurdles stopping people from living off their passions is the wrong sided belief that you don’t know something well enough to get paid to teach it to somebody else. That’s a lot of bulls—t – you know more than you think. Expertise is largely based on perceptions, and it is always relative.

To my mind, the last and greatest burden is purely cultural. We grew up in a society conditioned to believe that it’s not possible – and downright impractical – to build a career around your passion. I think the only way to get around this negative, collective mentality is to hang out with people already living comfortably by creating value out of their passions. If you spend enough time with people living squarely off their dreams and insanely proud of doing it, then the impossible becomes possible.

Try this; the shift in psychology will rock your world….

Start by doing one small thing to build the empire of you. I started out by booking a lot of unpaid speaking gigs around blogging. It made me aware that I was too geeky in my approach to the audience (but I became known as the danish blog girl).

Then I hit upon this (great) idea of turning companies into rockbands, which I spent 14 nights writing an ebook around that I gave away for free – and later people could purchase it by opting-in to my newsletter.

An empire of you is built on babysteps. Take the first one now. If you should do one tiny step in the direction of having an empire of you in a couple of years, what would that be ?

How I build strategic relationships on social media

strategic relationships on social media

Strategic relationships on social media is only an introduction away

Have you ever thought about that people, in most cases, get a whole new world of leads and strategic relationships opened up to them when they connect with someone on social media? Ah! the smell of lead generation in the morning.

If we pause our hectic world for a minute, I think it’s in order to celebrate that business tools are working so much better for us than they did 40 years ago. Mainly because they’ve gotten the whole online part developed as well.

And I love the combination of online and offline.  What I love about building strategic relationships on social media (driving a b2b business and all) is that you can actually get introduction to people who doesn’t know you yet in there. From people who really digs what you do.

It’s a business unusual sales approach for most companies.

One cool thing I have done, is that I have identified 100 people in my network, who happens also to be on linkedin, who would be likely to introduce me to other people from their network, because they love what I do. I have put them on a list in my CRM system and I look that list over once a week to see who I can hook up with who.

If you don’t have a 100 people who can introduce you to other people, start with 5 people and see if you can get one introduction from each. Get those strategic relationships/ coffee meetings going and build on your network.

If you’re thinking : oh but that’s shady Henriette, I beg to differ, it’s not shady, it’s business. Like in a 50s movie where two chainsmoking bourbon drinking executives they meet in a bar and one of the says “let’s do business – I have a proposal for you”.

I would never meet with people to pitch them, but I do meet with them to interview them for my websites or newsletters, with the purpose to get to know them better.

What I really like about this approach is that it has helped my own insecurities as a entrepreneur that also has to do sales sometimes. Instead of being terribly confused around sales I identified what actually worked for me. And strategic introductions and coffee meetings do.

After getting this thing in order. I hired Denmarks coolest manager; NiNi Biilmann to help me structure my sales proces. I also got really inspired by the work of salesdivas.com and Kim Duke who has a down to earth practical approach to sales.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was for me, to actually put all my sales confusion on hold because I just took a hard look in the mirror and said “this is what I am good at” and “this is what I don’t want to do”. So instead of using time cracking your own sales codes, get out there and talk to people.

Ps. also I made my strategic relationships-building into a win-win situation by telling people that I will of course give them an introduction the other way around. I have a whole map drawn up around who I want to introduce to whom in my network.

Pps. there’s nothing BETTER to me than a email from a dear friend saying “you guys need to hook up” with an introduction – it something that can make my day – anyday. So get those emails going and start sharing some strategic relationship love.