I've been fortunate to work with hundreds of brands—people selling their talents, projects, products, services and even a few not-for-profits.
I've also looked at the most effective investments of my resources (time, energy and money) and interviewed dozens of other creative entrepreneurs about their success.
It's very interesting that no one ever flat out told me the best kind of marketing. I came to this epiphany on my own. So today... I want to pass it on to you.
No matter what you're selling, this form of marketing is pretty much free and has been proven to be the most effective.
Are you ready?
No form of slick self-promotion or fancy advertising can beat good ol' fashioned word-of-mouth! The best kind of marketing is other people talking about how great you are.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the secret cornerstone of 99.99% of successful small businesses.
Let's explore how you can apply it to your career.
1. Be exceptional
The key is to provide an exceptional experience—something extraordinary and memorable.
How can you make sure you don't just meet expectations, but surprise and delight people? This is where you need to think like a small business or entrepreneur.
Get feedback! Try things with a test audience. Make sure your work will sell in the bigger marketplace. If people aren't raving, gather ways to improve and keep on refining until you're pretty much always creating glowing reviews.
For individuals, this may mean additional private training. For bigger brands, it might mean a bit more polishing. In the performing arts, this is why we have labs, out-of-town tryouts and previews!
Before you invest in expensive photos, videos, website, business cards, postcards or the like... recognize that you may not need all the fancy marketing stuff at first. Remember this post and idea.
Try out making your work exclusive while you make it exceptional. Everyone loves to be among the first or select few to experience something special and new. People are usually very happy to share their opinions, too... it makes them feel special. (I know this isn't always the case with actors and casting directors... but try your coaches!)
You'll know you're ready for the larger market when you're getting unsolicited recommendations, referrals and rave reviews.
2. Be discoverable
Check your Google results. When someone refers you to their friend or colleague, that's likely where they'll go to learn more about you.
Obviously, having a website would be ideal, but at the very least, make sure your YouTube, IMDb and Wikipedia are up-to-date. Facebook and LinkedIn also show up very high in search results.
If possible, make all of your social profiles public. This way, it's much easier for prospective clients/customers/employers to find and contact you.
3. Seek reviews
Sometimes word-of-mouth marketing doesn't come from friends. Think about the last purchase or hiring decisions you made. Perhaps you made your decision based on a critic's words in print or online? Perhaps you read reviews on Amazon or Yelp?
When someone discovers you, see if you can get them to more easily "convert" by creating a gallery of praise from others! Curate your glowing reviews, press and testimonials on your website—that's likely where people will find you and make the decision to hire or contact you.
If you're not yet getting praise from traditional press and blogs, you can start collecting reviews on your LinkedIn profile or Facebook page! All you have to do is ask. The worst answer you'll get is silence or a no.
4. Ask for the Share
If you're starting out, it's totally fine (and almost expected) that you ask people to help spread the word.
People are usually very happy to help you find your way or promote your brand... especially if you're really good!
Again, all you have to ask. Start asking more questions like...
- "If you like this [concert/album/video/session], would you please share it with your friends?
- "Would you feel comfortable recommending me to ____________?"
How will you add more word-of-mouth? Comment below!
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.