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Guerrillas Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing It comes in many forms, but all of them are essential to your business.

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This article has been excerpted from Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet by Jay Conrad Levinson, Mitch Meyerson and Mary Eule Scarborough, available from Entrepreneur Press.

Is your message, product or service worth talking about? We certainly hope so, because a recent study conducted by concluded that 53 percent of online traffic comes from recommendations made by family members and/or friends. This confirms what guerrillas have always known: Positive word-of-mouth "buzz" is the best advertising money can't buy--whether offline or online! So every single business person in the world should be spending a great deal of their time strategizing ways to acquire and retain profitable customers using word-of-mouth marketing--especially since the internet makes it so much easier!

It wasn't too long ago that it took several months and even years before entrepreneurs derived the benefits that their positive word-of-mouth referrals generated. Before the advent of the internet, it simply took longer for news to spread because we relied on phone or in-person conversations and handwritten correspondence. Additionally, business owners depended in large part on their happy customers' willingness (and memory) to refer them to others--not a very efficient or effective system.

But fortunately, thanks to the internet, those days are gone. Nowadays news travels at lightning speeds via instant messaging, e-mail, desktop computers and laptops, mobile phones, and SMS text messaging. In addition to more traditional forms, social media websites like MySpace, YouTube and many others allow guerrillas to spread their message to potentially millions of people at the click of a mouse.

Guerrillas are particularly fond of using three of the very best online word-of-mouth tactics--viral marketing, tell-a-friend programs, and online publicity.

Guerrillas Go Viral
You've probably heard of viral marketing but may not know exactly what it means. If so, you're not alone. However, viral marketing is nothing more than a method for encouraging large numbers of people to spread marketing materials to family members, friends and associates. It's like planting seeds, adding water and watching them grow! Because so many of the best internet distribution channels are free or extremely low-cost, viral marketing is a guerrilla's best friend and should be an integral part of your online marketing efforts.

And how do you "go viral" quickly? Simple. Give something valuable away for free. Please understand that there's a big difference between valuable and expensive, so don't misinterpret what we're suggesting. People have a natural tendency to help others, especially their close friends and relatives. Therefore, if they're given something really special and encouraged to share it, they will. So before you choose your "freebie," answer these types of questions:

  • What do my target prospects value?
  • Are they looking for instructions on how to build something?
  • Do they crave inspiration?
  • Are they in need of inspiration?
  • Are they seeking comfort?
  • Do they just want a good laugh?

Once you know this, you're on your way; the sky's the limit on what you can give away. It can be as elaborate as an original video or something like a photo slideshow set to music. You can give away e-books, software programs, or daily jokes. Or if you're a designer, why not offer free graphics, photos, or banners? Regardless of what you choose, just be sure to include your name and website address (and live link if applicable) so interested people can find you! If you'd like to see a good example of a viral e-book go to HotMarketingTips.pdf

Guerrillas Use Tell-A-Friend Programs
If you've spent any time at all on the internet you've certainly been asked to provide the names and e-mail addresses of others you know who would also be interested in visiting websites. This is a great way to make it easy for people to recommend your site to their family members and friends! All visitors have to do is enter the requested information and an e-mail with your website's URL and a short message is generated. And since the e-mails' "from" lines are from recognizable e-mail addresses, they're not likely to get blocked by spam filters and are not considered spam.

So why not save your visitors a phone call and make it simple and convenient for them to suggest your site to others? You'll only need two things to get started: a tell-a-friend form and script.

Most shopping carts include scripts and forms in their packages, but if you need one, go to Google and type in: "tell a friend forms" or "tell a friend scripts" and you'll have lots to choose from.

Guerrillas Generate Online Publicity
As an alternative to utilizing traditional advertising, Guerrillas love using the internet to create buzz about themselves, their products and services, and their companies. That's why so many smart online entrepreneurs take advantage of free and/or low-cost and highly effective traffic generation strategies, such as online press releases.

There are a number of websites that offer free resources and guidance on writing press releases and how to use them to generate traffic to your website and obtain inbound links. To find them, go to Google (or any of the other big search engines) and search for "online press releases" or "free press release information."

If you've never written a press release, we also strongly suggest that you use online services such as PRweb. Not only do they provide tips for creating your press release, but they'll also distribute your release for you and have various "contribution" levels depending upon the amount of exposure you want.

If you want to get the biggest bang out of your online PR efforts, let the following rules of thumb guide you.

  • Use an assortment of weapons. It's hard to get anyone's attention using one channel. Use a combination of online and offline strategies and tactics such as recording a radio interview and putting it on your website. Put your web address on your business cards, mention it in your voice mail greeting, and include it in every one of your offline ads.
  • Find out what people are talking about. Then write a press release that ties you, your company, or your products and services to the story or topic. Just pick up any national newspaper or visit online news sites to find out what subjects are hot.
  • Send out press releases often. One-shot attempts won't get you anywhere, so any time you have news worth mentioning send out press releases.
  • Add a little controversy. Nothing is worse than a boring story, so go ahead and add a little pizzazz to your press releases. There's nothing wrong with controversy, as long as you don't go overboard. So stick your neck out, stand up for something, and shout it to the world.

Guerrillas Set Up E-Mail Signatures
Here's a strategy that's so simple you can have it up and running in less than ten minutes! Open your e-mail program (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Entourage, GMail, Thunderbird) and go to the "Tools" tab (or "Preferences" on Macs) and set up a signature file--or "sig file." Once there, enter whatever information you'd like to appear at the end of all of the e-mails you send, like your name, e-mail address, contact information, active link to your website, graphic, and/or marketing message.

This is a wonderful way to capitalize on every e-mail you send! It doesn't get much better than that! And who says you can't get creative? Just put on your Guerrilla Marketing hat and go for it. As long as it's easy to read (no fancy fonts, please) and contains a live link to your website, you'll be okay. Here are a couple of examples of good signatures:

Mitch Meyerson, author, speaker and consultant
Get Your Free Online Marketing Toolkit with
The #1 Multi-Media Mini Course on the Web

David A. Scarborough
What's Your Big Idea Worth? Millions...

As you can see, this is another wonderfully effective, fast, flexible, and free method for getting more and more people to your website.

This article has been excerpted from Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet by Jay Conrad Levinson, Mitch Meyerson and Mary Eule Scarborough, available from Entrepreneur Press.

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