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The Building Blocks for Word of Mouth


Real estate agents are big believers in the power of referral business. Last week, I was in Austin for SWOMfest, a conference for the Society for Word of Mouth, created by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba of the Church of the Customer blog. I left SWOMfest with a new perspective on what it takes to ignite word of mouth for my clients.

The Core of WOM

Defining your purpose is at the core of breeding word of mouth:

  • People vote for candidates that share the same values, they want to buy from companies that do as well.
  • Companies who establish a purpose outperform other companies by 5 to 1.
  • A purpose is not a cliche, empty “mission statement”.  It is a defined reason for a business to exist other than profits.
  • A purpose can also be defined as a definitive statement of the difference you want to make in the world.
  • But… your purpose must be relevant to your audience.
  • Advertising is not a differentiator.  A purpose is.
  • Purpose fosters meaningful innovation… Do not innovate just for the sake of innovation.
  • Look at every opportunity and ask: “Does it help fulfill the purpose?”

Essential to WOM

A story is essential in delivering your message through word of mouth.

  • Stories are packets that you give to customers that help word of mouth spread.
  • You must provide your customers with a story and make it easy to tell yours to others.
  • The story must interest, amuse, instruct, and inspire.
  • A story is an account of events…with vivid, specific details.
  • A story must have a “neat” element that makes it worth telling.
  • 4 Elements of a story: Character, Setting, Problem, Resolution.
  • The “theme” of your story aligns with the defined “purpose” of your business.

Using Social Media

Using social media to spur word of mouth is more about process than technology.

  • Select customers to become “customer evangelists”
  • Make them the face of your business, reward them, champion them.
  • Listen to the online conversation.
  • Join the online conversation and tell your story.
  • Start small, don’t wait, fly under the radar if you must.
  • Effective marketing through social media and WOM is 10% technology and 90% process and execution.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot, and he was interviewing at the conference during the breaks.  He came out with this great video featuring some of my favorite marketing thinkers:

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John Moore of Brand Autopsy suggests you ask yourself: Does this tactic earn an opinion?

Connie Reece of Every Dot Connects advises that you plan for follow through.

Spike Jones of Brains on Fire illustrates how you should re-frame the conversation.

Bryan Person of Live World says you should find and nurture evangelists.

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Connie Reece

    November 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Hey, Carson. It was great meeting you at SWOMfest. Nice to see the real estate industry getting involved in social media.

  2. Jay Ehret

    November 3, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Carson,
    Thanks for passing along the video. Had a great time in Austin. You have some great insights and I enjoyed our conversation.

  3. Carson Coots

    November 3, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Connie and Jay – Thanks it was great meeting you both as well. Hope to see y’all again around Austin (or Waco, Jay)

  4. Arra Yerganian

    November 4, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Wow, I just found out about this conference from a friend….I wish I had known earlier. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and blogs.

    Need some guidance. Can anyone assist me in better defining a distribution strategy to reach tween kids? Want to engage them in a new, engaging, age appropriate on-line virtual world my company’s creating? Need ‘out of the box’ suggestions. Thanks.

  5. Paula Henry

    November 5, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Carson – some good take aways here – especially the business card idea. I have always tried to make my business card worth keeping, but never thought about whether it earned an opinion.

    A thought provoking question to answer – How do we make peoples lives better?

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