When I woke up this morning, I noticed a really good comment on one of our blog post. It was so good that it inspired me to write this post today. The comment was from intercultural executive coach, Anne Egros. Anne blogs over at zestnzen.wordpress.com. She made a thoughtful comment suggesting that going viral is about connecting emotionally with an audience on our post 10 things entrepreneurs should do everyday to help word-of-mouth go viral.
As an entrepreneur bootstrapping your business, you know the easiest way to get to the promise land is by having your business go viral through word-of-mouth advertising. The problem is that most entrepreneurs believe that the chances of this happening amounts to winning the lottery. While this is true to a certain extent, the lottery ticket aspect of going viral is only one side of the coin.
Word-of-mouth advertising is by far the most relied upon form of advertising by bootstrapping entrepreneurs. The idea of having existing customers, friends, and family tell others about your business and you just sitting back and letting the dollars roll-in is how just about every entrepreneur imagines their new venture will take-off. This is a smart way to think. As a matter of fact, this is how the most brilliant engineers in Silicon Valley think.
The main thing we believe at Nichevertising is that the #1 goal for a bootstrapping entrepreneur must be to create a viral referral loop. We define a viral referral loop as the ability to get your best customers to provide at least 3 referrals every month/quarter/year (whatever fits your business), and then get at least 50% of those referrals to do the same. I blogged about it not long ago in a post titled Why creating a viral loop is the only goal that matters.
When I used to work in corporate America, there is one memory I will never forget. It was this project that ate up managers like they were a dozen lemon pepper wings on Super Bowl Sunday. One of the managers I had along the way, joined the project mid-stream and ended up lasting only a few months before he was let go. I believe one of the reasons he didn’t last long was embodied by a quote that he would repeat to the team every time something wasn’t going his way. He would say “you don’t know what you don’t know,” and he said it so often that you would think he didn’t know anything.
Every bootstrapping entrepreneur knows that they need to spend more time on their advertising strategy, but for one reason or another don’t. I belive the reason for this is that it is often expensive and time consuming to figure out the ins and outs of all the various ways you can advertise your business to drive new customer traffic in the door. Everything from pay per click (PPC) ads, banner ads, social media marketing, yellow pages, radio and television is offered up by pushy sales reps trying to convince you that their solution will provide a ROI. I say ignore all of this and focus on this: YOUR BEST CURRENT CUSTOMERS!!!
I was chatting with my mom over the weekend about how the different online advertising campaigns she was trying were doing for her business. She is the business manager and co-owner of a chiropractic wellness center in Georgia. What I heard made me cringe. She told me that the money she was spending on internet advertising wasn’t providing a return on investment. She also told me that after several years of trying various online advertising campaigns most of her business still comes from word of mouth advertising.