May 20, 2006

Small Business Marketing Secret #6: A Bucket of Hot Dogs and a Squirt of Word-of-Mouth Advertising

What’s your best form of advertising?

If you’re like the vast majority of the people we meet, it’s word-of-mouth. Of course – it automatically offers a virtually infinite return on investment because it’s free!

Since you’re like most people we meet in that regard, you’re probably similar in another – you can’t control word-of-mouth advertising. Don’t feel like you’re alone. The very trait that makes this form of advertising so desired (it’s free) also makes it very elusive (you can’t buy it).

Imagine for a second a 50 gallon metal bucket loaded up with sand or dirt or hotdogs or something. Can you lift it? We just tested it, and we can’t even lift it together. Now, picture that same large bucket, but this time put a wheel on one end and two handles on the other. Like a wheelbarrow.

Can you lift it?

You certainly have a better chance now. The weight hasn’t changed and the material hasn’t changed – but now you are putting physics to work in your favor. That wheel acts as a fulcrum and the handles give you leverage. Before you know it, you’re wheeling that 400 pound bucket of hotdogs right down the sidewalk.

The same analogy holds true in word-of-mouth advertising. When you look at the problem from the obvious perspective it seems about as hard to control as the bucket of wieners. But, if you apply nontraditional marketing “physics” to the problem, you can soon begin controlling the previously uncontrollable.

Here are a few levers and fulcrums that you can try in your business:

Viral Marketing: the perfect example can be found at . Create something that is very interesting – it might be information, it might be entertainment, or as in the case of the chicken, it might just be weird.

Then, share that something with people who are well connected. You know who they are…the folks who seem to know everybody. Put your “virus” in their hands and they’ll bounce it around like a hot potato – as long as it’s very interesting. Your brochure doesn’t count.

Pass It On Program: Give a gift certificate (not a coupon) to every one of your customers. Put their best friend’s name on it. What are they going to do? Gift certificates are like cash – so they’re not going to throw it away. What about the best friend?

Well, it sure would be rude to throw away a gift from your best friend. Chances are those friends will soon be knocking at your door.

Bring A Friend Program: Bring a friend who has never been to our restaurant and we’ll buy you both a glass of wine.

The Most Important Part: Be worth talking about. The messages that spread the quickest are the ones that are somehow valuable or beneficial. “Big sale this weekend” is a very slow mover on the viral email circuit.

Some people say they control word-of-mouth advertising by “doing a good job.” Not anymore they don’t. “Good jobs” don’t spread any faster than “big sales.” There’s got to be a better way!

The good news is there is, you’ll learn what it is in Secret # 6.5. It’s sort of like the glue that holds this whole thing together. Stay tuned for the series finale!
About the Author

Jim and Travis are the creators of The Gravitational Marketing System which helps small business owners end unproductive cold prospecting and create a clock-work system that gets leads to call them, pay more for their product or service and naturally pull in tons of referrals and sales.

Get FREE small business marketing tips, shortcuts and secrets at

Jimmy Vee & Travis Miller

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