Word of Mouth – Your Key to Big Time Sales!

Though I’m at risk of stating the obvious, the one key to success with marketing is successful word of mouth.  Getting the average Joe or Jane to talk up your product, book, or service is they key to exponential exposure, sales and success.   In fact, you can see that of all marketing, the type of “advertising” consumers trust most is recommendations from consumers (see graph).

While no one is surprised by this, the big question is how do you make this happen?  Many of us participate in blogs, forums, online groups, social networks, etc. to gain exposure about our books.  This has good results.  Friendships are forged, trust is gained, and we start to buy each others books.    The limitation is that these sales are only additive.  That is, they are essentially direct sales from author to buyer, one at a time.  What is needed are the multiplying sales.  Essentially having readers sell books for you.  They don’t do this outright (commission, etc.) but they do it by word of mouth.

I first heard of The DiVinci Code from friends at work who had read it and talked it up.  I didn’t read a review in the newspaper or hear a radio add.  I was “sold” by my friends.  This is the power of word of mouth.

But how do you get readers to do this?  Well, the answer lies within.  When do you do it?  When do you start “selling” books you’ve read to friends?  My guess is you don’t talk about every good book you read.  Just those that somehow stuck with you, made an impact or otherwise struck a chord.  So the issue here isn’t writing just a good book, but one that will resonate and create what are called “promoters”.

In marketing, promoters are the folks that go out of their way to “sell” something that they believe in even when they personally don’t benefit from the sale.  These folks are hard to find.  In fact, if you have a normal population rate a product on a scale from 1-10, only those who rate a product 9 or higher would be even close to being promoters.  A seven or eight is a good score but doesn’t cut it.  Even with a 9 or 10, this doesn’t always get you there.

So how do you find these promoters?  Well, they find you.  They are the ones who send you an email about how they found your book and loved it asking when the next book is coming out.  They are the ones who tell you they’ve told their friends or neighbors about your book.    They are the ones who continue to visit your blog and comment on your posts.  These are your promoters.   Your job is to stay in close contact with them; keeping up that relationship as you write your new book.  And frankly, you ask them to promote (subtley of course).  Some folks have even asked if I’ve got extra bookmarks because they want to hand them to folks they know who might like the book.

In the end, promoting starts with you.  We can all promote one another.  It is one of the reasons I’m posting reviews on this site as well as Amazon, Shelfari, Goodreads, etc.  I also take these books to work and lend them out to collegeause.  If you’ve read some of the books from authors on this site, how much are you “promoting” them?  I know, it’s hard enough to promote your own work, but honestly, it’s easier to promote someone elses work because no one sees is as self promotion (which of course it isn’t).  And frankly self-promotion makes everyone skeptical (just check out some of Amazon’s forum’s where an author tries to promote their work – yikes!).  But if everyone is promoting everyone elses work – well, no stigma of self-promotion and suddenly you’ve got an arm of folks promoting your work instead of yourself.

So I ask all of you to think of books that you’ve really enjoyed and believe they deserve a shot to be read by many to go out there and promote them!  And for those interested, I do still have a number of extra bookmarks (wink!).

P.S. One easy method for spreading word of mouth is the “Retweet (RT)” on twtiter – check out the twitter post here.



Filed under book marketing

8 responses to “Word of Mouth – Your Key to Big Time Sales!

  1. I actually have seen the authors in the amazon forums. lol.

  2. That’s great advice. I hadn’t thought of the bookmark giveaways. I have always felt bad about promoting myself or blowing my own horn as it’s called. I have asked some of the people that read my book to write a review on some of the big book sites like Amazon and B&N. I think another problem, and one I suffer from, is having the confidence in the book to promote it. While I think it’s a good story I would feel bad if someone spent their hard earned money on the book, and it not be good. Everyone that has read has said it was good, but what are they saying when I’m not around. Thanks for the post. I will try to put some of the advice to good use.

  3. Hi Todd,

    Great article. I’ve bookmarked it for reference. I agree with you that without marketing, a book is a lonely book and an author is a lonely man or woman. And the Internet really has changed everything. I know a guy who does movie reviews on Twitter, & they’re not bad @ all.

    It’ll be interesting seeing how justweetit.com/writers-authors will work out.

    George Polley
    Sapporo, Japan

  4. Thanks George – I appreciate the support! Check back anytime!

  5. James,
    I know exactly what you mean. That’s why I really appreciate reading and hearing from folks who I previously had absolutely no relationship with. They simply found the book read it, liked it and contacted me – it’s the best validation ever. It gives every author the confidence to push forward with their book. Good luck!

  6. It just struck me that you could put a “bookmark” on your web site so that if anyone wanted something to pass out, they could just print it out and cut it. I have done this for myself in the past. I just created a page in Word, designed a small book mark, copied it until there were about 6 on the page and Voila – bookmarks. I’m sure there are better ways to make bookmarks, but I’m not very techy and it looked OK.

  7. Great, post Todd, and I think you’re absolutely right. Talking up a book can work wonders. As I recall, J.K. Rowling’s first Hary Potter book took off not because of a huge marketing campaign, but because of word of mouth by kids. Her story struck a chord with kids from different countries and cultures all over the globe.

  8. Awesome advice, Todd! Thank you!
    BTW: Yvonne Perry put your link on Facebook and that is how I discovered this article. That word of mouth does wonders!

    ~Barbara Techel
    Author & Mom of Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog

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