Yesterday, I critiqued the idea of a Me First selling proposition, which I believe is nothing more than the conjunction of hype, marginal cost of access and the lure of something new and shiny.
Today, I’m offering you some thinking to help generate buzz by giving your customers something that they’ll value even more than a discount…
Before I launch into the ideas, let me lay four groundwork strands.
This post is firmly rooted in the idea of Community Network Marketing (as laid out in a post earlier this year).
In fact, the suggestions I’m about to outline are also rooted in the idea of psychographics as a method of identifying, and communicating with, your target consumer.
Your customer self-identifies their ‘home’ communities based on their attitudes, interests and opinions as outlined in the psychographic model. (Check out my BIIR marketing model for thoughts on how you integrate and interact with these communities)
You may not have any access into these communities, other than vicariously through your customer.
We agree that individuals self-select and self-identify their own communities. Part of being a community is accepting give and take. You put into a community, you receive something back from a community.
The more active you are and the more you provide utility, the higher your standing within that community. And the more likely it is that people will ask you for your opinion and value your offerings.
Consider how this works for your customers in their self-selected community groups.
Now to build buzz without bias.
Part of the disagreement with offering rewards (discounts) for testimonials is that it encourages bias.
If you were given a 20% discount in return for recording a testimonial, would you say that the product was up to expectation, but no more? Would you critique it and offer ideas for improvement?
No, you’d probably say that it was great and that everyone should have one.
This is inauthentic and transparent. What you need as a brand/product marketer is to get unbiased feedback from real people.
In order to do this, you need to realise that you have to cede control.
This is important. By ceding control, you’re doing something fundamental.
You are empowering your customer.
And who doesn’t like to be empowered? In fact, I’d be willing to bet that customers who are empowered and trusted by brands are far more loyal and vocal in their support than people who aren’t given any power or control at all.
You need to tap into this – and these three ideas will give you a head-start.
Idea One: Seeding/Influencer Marketing
No, I’m not talking about seeding online forums with cleverly placed bits of marketing propaganda (although if you have the time, energy and resources this might be possible).
I’m talking about going to market with your finished product and gifting it to a selection of community members as (or immediately before) it launches to the wider world.
You need to pick the right people here. Identify your target psychographic community and spend some time hanging out where they hang out.
Identify the movers and the shakers, and strike up a relationship.
Then, out of the blue, give them access to your product. If it’s physical, send it in the mail with a hand written note (unless you’re sending to a huge sample size, DON’T type it. Be personal. Take some trouble. If you’ve got handwriting like mine, get someone else to write the notes for you). If it’s virtual, send it with a personalised covering email. Even better, record a video, upload it to Youtube and give the recipient the private link.
Explain that you’ve got something that you think they’ll be interested in – and be clear about why you are contacting them. Be upfront if you’re also contacting other people – say that the recipient is one of 100 individuals that you’re gifting your product to.
Ask for their feedback. Give them the opportunity to engage with you about the product.
If you’ve identified the right people in the right communities, you should find that they will start spreading the word completely unprompted by you.
Check this out from Pushing Social if you need any further convincing. (Or think about how Google+ first hit the market)
Idea Two: Offer exclusive pre-access either to your current product, or your next one.
With this idea, you will identify your communities as before. This time however, you can make one of two decisions:
a) Identify a rising star. Find someone you think is on the right track but not quite as senior or well-known as the community leaders.
b) Reach out to the community as a whole.
In either case, you want to offer interested parties the chance to get beta-access to your product in exchange for a review, or privileged access to your next product.
This plays on one very simple premise: Through privileged access, your individual influencers get something that no-one else has got and thus can increase their community standing.
Your rising star might see this as a way to get an ‘exclusive’ over their more established peers and thus vault the pecking order. Or the community might engage as a whole with the more established members feeding their highly respected opinions into the newer recruits.
Remember, a discount can only be given once for a review. Community standing and kudos is much longer lasting.
You’ve got to be confident with your product, however. Or quick off the mark if the reviewers find something fundamentally flawed.
This approach will work best pre-launch to build buzz and cement the feeling of exclusivity with the reviewer.
To really increase your standing, and theirs, within the target community it would be a great idea to publicly thank your reviewers as soon as the product hits market.
The following video from Youtube is a consumer camera review. Whether it was planted or not, I can’t say, but it’s a good potential example of this type of approach.
Idea Three: Collaborative co-creation
This is probably the bravest move that you can make in launching a new product, or even a brand.
By approaching your unbiased buzz building from this angle, you are inviting the community into your creation process to help develop your ideas, round off rough edges and put their stamp on your product.
If you make aircraft carriers, this probably isn’t for you.
In adopting this model, you’re adding enormous value into your target community by:
i) Inviting and recognising contributors whether they are establish leaders or new comers with great ideas
ii) Getting more ideas and ‘spark points’ than you could sitting alone in a writer’s study (it’s amazing what some people will see or think of that you can then incorporate)
iii) Creating something that you know the community wants – because the community helped you to build it.
Less “Me me me”, More “You you you” with some “Us us us” thrown in for good measure.
Using these three techniques will not only help you to build buzz for your product/brand, but will start to build a supportive community around you as well.
And who doesn’t need a community surrounding them? As a wise person once said, “No man is an island.”
That goes for you and your product too.