Today’s Q&A is with marketing expert and SmartBrief on Social Media advisory board member John Jantsch, whose new book, The Referral Engine, hit bookstores this morning. This follow-up to John’s seminal Duct Tape Marketing is jam-packed with practical tips for marketing success for businesses without a huge budget.
How can businesses create a system-oriented process for generating word-of-mouth referrals? Isn’t that inherently contradictory?
Well, yes, it might seem contradictory if it’s not done right. The first thing is to create a business that’s referable, one that people want to talk about. Without that, nothing really matters. With that, you can go to work on creating systems and processes that invite, motivate and activate your customer referral champions to do more and your strategic partners a reason to want to engage more fully.
Why is it important for businesses to identify their “core talkable difference”?
Nobody talks about boring businesses, and in order to get a significant amount of referrals, you have to be easy to refer. But it’s not enough to do something that people can talk about; you’ve also got to take the next step and teach them how to talk about your business, how to spot your ideal customer and how to know the perfect time to mention you just might be the perfect business for their friend or colleague.
You advise companies to create a portrait of their ideal target customer. What does this accomplish?
First and foremost, if you take this notion of “ideal” to heart, you’ll start to understand that only a narrow segment or type of customer fits the ideal profile and when you acknowledge and embrace this idea you’ll start to use your ideal client as the filter for your language, promotion and content and suddenly you’ll start to attract more of the right kind of client. In addition, when you go out to activate and educate your strategic partners you’ll be able to easily paint the picture of the exact type of client or work that they should think of you for.
You maintain that highly referred companies create a culture of buzz among their staff. What does this mean?
A culture of buzz is the idea that people’s minds are free to seize opportunities to get customers talking by reacting to their requests or even demands in ways that they find remarkable. This is pretty tough to teach, so you’ve got to make it central to how you train and interact with your staff. You’ve got to make the business about this idea of a remarkable customer experience and then challenge, encourage and reward employees who find innovative ways to bring it to life.
How can social media enable conversion?
I think you should start to think about social media more as a behavior and less as a set of tools. In that vein, you can start to think of ways to communicate more often, more deeply and more personally than you might in a typical e-mail or letter. By using social media tools to quickly engage with someone you meet at a Chamber event or adding social media activity into a prospect or customer CRM record, you automatically give yourself a competitive advantage when it comes identifying opportunities and building deeper relationships.