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7 Ways to Build Buzz to Increase Sales Follow these tips to build word-of-mouth, and gain customers, for your company.

By Tony Parinello

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Editor's note: This article is excerpted from Stop Cold Calling Forever!from Entrepreneur Press.

Here are seven buzz-building ideas that won't cost you a penny, and will, without a doubt, help you generate positive word-of-mouth in your territory. Your aim here is to determine the best untapped avenues of opportunity for you to get your word out within your territory.

Idea 1: Get Free Media Coverage

Don't limit your thinking. You can and should exploit the following avenues:

  • College campus radio stations
  • College campus newspapers
  • Local business and financial talk radio
  • Internet business talk shows
  • Local newspapers
  • Local business journals
  • Industry-specific newsletters and e-zines
  • Association-specific newsletters and e-zines

Develop a punchy, straight-to-the-point press release that highlights some genuinely newsworthy aspects of your product, service or solution and mail out 10 of these a week, following up by phone as your schedule permits. The closer your release matches up with the actual house style of the journal or broadcast outlet you send it to, the more likely it is to appear verbatim.

Idea 2: Take Advantage of Your Company's Personalities

If you sell for a company that has a board of directors, get the list of names of those who are currently on the board of your company. If any of your executives serve on some other company's board of directors, get the names of those companies. Add them to your list of potential contacts.

Speaking of your company's top executives, find out if they know other individuals in your territory with similar titles. Ask what colleges they graduated from, what clubs and associations they belong to, and what charitable events they're active in.

Idea 3: Take Advantage of Your Company's Community Relations Activities

If your company is sponsoring any community event-charitable or commercial-you should get involved.

Whether it's a fundraiser, a food drive, a golf tournament, or a 10K run, you owe it to yourself to participate-and meet and greet. Get eyeball-to-eyeball, press the flesh, and get face-to-face.

Idea 4: Take Advantage of Suppliers and Business Partners

What companies in your territory supply goods and services to your own organization or to any of your customers? Understand, when I say your customers, that includes any customers that your organization has.

Identify at least five such companies you can reach out to.

Idea 5: Take Advantage of Related, Noncompetitive Organizations

What are the noncompetitive organizations that lead you to opportunities in your territory? You can generate buzz by reaching out to them.

For example, if you sell commercial carpeting and provide interior design services, a noncompetitive organization would be global moving and storage companies that relocate companies to your territory. In this case, the noncompetitive organization does not fit your Template of Ideal Prospects, or TIP: however, the companies that they can introduce you to-and talk you up to-will fit your TIP.

Idea 6: Take Advantage of Your Advocacy Lists

There are scrupulously maintained contact lists that by definition are constantly in a state of flux. They contain the names, telephone numbers, physical addresses, and e-mail addresses of each and every person in your territory who wants to see you get to the next highest level in your profession and is a great supporter of you and your products, services, and solutions. In other words, these are the people who will coach and mentor you to greater success. What's in it for them? Simple: the law of reciprocity. (They help you, you help them, they help you, you help them, and on and on.) Typically, these are upwardly mobile individuals.

Advocacy lists work best if you divide your list into four parts:

  • 1. The "A" List.These are individuals you know in high places. They can be family members, friends, clergy, customers, and/or individuals who run the company you work for.
  • 2. The "B" List.These are individuals and/or organizations that have given you a referral during the current sales year. They're people you've followed up with. They can be suspects who have never bought from you, prospects, or more likely longstanding customers.
  • 3. The "C" List.These are all the board members (or equivalents) of your current customers.
  • 4. The "D" List.These are individuals in associations and groups that you belong to and are currently active in.

These lists can help you in quickly identifying someone (or a bunch of someones) as coaches and mentors in any suspect or prospect organization in your territory. But you have to set up the lists if you want to generate buzz with them.

Idea 7: Take Advantage of Everybody Else!

No joke. Be ready to generate buzz by connecting with:

  • Your alumni association
  • Your favorite teachers, professors and clergy
  • Your own family's inner circle
  • People you happen to be sitting next to at the ball game

OK, you get the point. Nothing, no place, and no one is sacred when it comes to making connections and generating buzz.

Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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