There’s only one kind of marketing

…and that’s “Word of Mouth”.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and this post from Brad Feld, “Are Customers Your Best Marketing?”, drove me to finally jot down some bullet points on how I feel about Word-of-Mouth marketing.

Here’s Kay’s law #21: “The amount of marketing dollars required to generate sales is inversely proportional to the product’s buzzability”.

Buzzability = ability to generate activity via word of mouth discussions.

Whenever I think about spending marketing dollars, I think about how much money Google spent to market their search engine: Zero.

I’ll bet you can remember exactly how you found out about Google and of course it was through a friend.

So what simple rules can we take away from the Google lesson that can help you figure out how to increase your product’s buzzability?

  1. Your product has to be superior to the competition. As superior as Google’s was over Yahoo’s (at the time).
  2. Customers must be able to easily (trivially, actually) describe what your product does and how their friends can try it. Your goal should be to come up with a single statement that you and your customers can use that instantly describes your product so that new customers “get it” immediately.
  3. New customers must be able to try your product with a near-zero effort (how much work did it take for you to try the new Google engine back then?).

Leighton Chong once made a point that many new inventions are really superior, but they take too much effort on the part of the customer and so they fail. One of the biggest problems I had with one of my previous companies was that our product rocked but was difficult to explain, hence customer’s couldn’t explain it to their friends, and so we had a big challenge in getting the word out.

You want success? Make sure your product hits those three points and watch your word-of-mouth marketing take care of the rest.