The Chief Means of Marketing, Part 3

Are you familiar with Zappos? I wasn’t. Not until I read about them in Word of Mouth Marketing. Actually, I was assessing the book by reading the back cover, the forward, the author profile, and so on. That material included an Afterward by Guy Kawasaki, and in it were the ten stories Kawasaki liked most in the book. Number ten was this:

Zappos has a one-year, no-questions-asked return policy for shoes. This boggles my mind although I’ve never seen my wife return anything to them.

As “coincidence” would have it, several days after I read that, ABC’s Nightline ran a piece about Zappos and how different they are from the norm. Everything reported fit with what I’d read in WOMM. Zappos was making themselves buzz worthy by the way they cared for their customers and by the way their CEO cared for their employees.

Just a few examples:

  • Zappos has a real person answer the phone, someone in their company. No outsourcing customer service.
  • If a customer asks for something out of stock, the employees are trained to look up the item at several competitive Web sites and tell the buyer where they might be able to find what they’re looking for. Sure they might have lost a sale, but chances are they will gain a loyal customer.
  • The CEO does not have a separate office. His desk is in the middle of the other employee cubicles, though none is the stark, isolated affair you might think of. The employees are encouraged to bring their own personality and creativity to their work space.
  • And of course, there’s that return policy. Coupled with the fact that Zappos pays for shipping.
  • So here I am, blogging about a company I’ve never done business with but one I already admire. They made themselves buzz worthy.

    How does this translate for writers? I keep coming back to that question because I think it would be tempting to believe buzz is generated by gimacky things. WOMM author Andy Sernovitz mentions some things that sound like they are mere attention getters—a barber shop that offers free drinks while you wait, a shoe shine stand with plush red chairs, and the like.

    Well, those are buzz worthy because they are different and offer something with the customer in mind. But if the barber gave terrible haircuts, no offer of free drinks will generate a solid customer base, and chances are the buzz that results will not be positive.

    So for the writer, the place to start is the story. Is it buzz worth? How? Why? Why would people talk about my book?

    And speaking of talking about books, there are just eleven days before Donita Paul’s DragonLight blog tour. I happen to think Donita has some pretty good ways of generating word of mouth for her books, and I hope to point those out during her tour.

    Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 11:53 am  Comments Off on The Chief Means of Marketing, Part 3  
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