A few years back, I was lounging around the pool with some ladies from my neighborhood. One of the ladies suggested that we all go to Rita’s. I knew Rita’s was a new establishment about two miles down the street because I had seen the sign. However, I had not paid much attention to it, so I did not know what Ritas’ sold. Upon inquiring, the ladies all began to gush about the Italian Ice Rita’s serves, convincing me that I had to give it a try.
I tried Ritas because of the recommendation from these ladies I knew. Word-of-Mouth is ten times more powerful than advertising. Here is why.
1. It is more persuasive.
It boils down to trust. Which do you trust more: an advertisement or someone you know who has tried the product or read the book? You trust your friend, co-worker, or neighbor more. We know that advertisements are trying to sell us something. People we know are simply making recommendations based on something they liked or that worked for them. Hence we are far more likely to believe people we know and act upon their recommendation.
2. It is more targeted.
Identifying and reaching your target audience—those people who are most likely to read your book and benefit from it—is the goal of any good marketing campaign. Advertisements will reach your target audience, but they will also reach a lot of people who are not. Word-of-mouth is highly targeted. When I like something, I usually don’t go and tell everyone I know about the product, restaurant, or book. I tell the people I know who would be most interested in what I have discovered. For example, I have a friend who only eats American food. If I try a fantastic new Indian restaurant, I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant to her since she is not interested in Indian food.
Jonah Berger, the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, is a marketing professor. He says that publishers frequently send him a review copy of a new marketing book they have published. The publishers do this hoping that he will read the book and decide to assign it to his students, hence bringing in multiple sales.
Jonah tells the story of one smart publisher. Instead of sending him one copy of the book, this publisher sent him two. The publisher included a note telling him that the second book was given to him so that he could pass it on to a colleague who might be interested in reading it.
What a brilliant strategy. By sending two copies and encouraging Jonah to give the second one to someone who might be interested in the book, the publisher was getting Jonah to provide word-of-mouth recommendation, even before he read the book and made a judgment on it.
If you want to increase word-of-mouth for your book, you could try this strategy. Give two review copies to someone in your target audience—a pastor, teacher, nurse, etc.—and suggest they give the second one to a colleague who might be interested in the subject. Exposure coupled with word-of-mouth is powerful.
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