One thing I’ve learned while I was working with a very tactical supervisor during my first years of corporate life, was the importance of generating Positive Buzz around what you’re doing.
It seems a simple concept, but practice shows me it isn’t always easy to grasp. I’ll do my best to show you how killer this marketing tool can be.
So, first of all, you know that the most powerful communication tool is word of mouth, right?
Besides everything else you can do, from TV to Online ads, there’s nothing as impactful as someone who you trust recommending you a product.
During one team meeting, this supervisor gave us the following advice:
He said that we should always tell everyone how we were doing such a great job!
In that case, we wanted to spread the word that our Cloud business was growing 36% per year, which was, in fact, positive.
I think up to this point you might see nothing new here. 😉
In fact, it is my opinion that most of the guys listening to this advice didn’t catch the fundamental theory beneath.
It is even possible that my supervisor didn’t think too much about it: he just genuinely understands how Buzz is created and acts according to that – because he knows how important it is to each one’s success.
I didn’t arrive at this theory because I am smarter than others, not at all. It is because I am a geek, and I tend to dig in ideas. There is always something you can turn into a theory if you give it a little bit of thought.
To clearly explain this to you, let us focus on the following scenario:
Imagine you’re creating a business; whether in full-time or on the side, it doesn’t matter for this purpose.
So, let’s suppose you’re opening a new type of food restaurant. You’ve been working on the project for months, getting everything ready for launching and spreading the word about your new venture.
But, somehow, when you open the restaurant for the first time, nobody comes. In fact, let us assume that for 1 month, you would see really low traction – like 3 to 5 customers per day only.
It is perfectly reasonable that you become worried. After all, you know that there’s a daily breakeven you must pass to make money. Otherwise, you won’t be able to pay the expenses at the end of the month.
Now, let us keep assuming that some friends with whom you’ve talked about opening this business ask you:
“Hey, man! How’s everything going? Already out of stock?!”
The vast majority of people will be transparent, and tell his folks something like:
“Meh… it hasn’t been going so well as I imagined, to be honest. Hopefully, it will get better with time”.
You see, there’s nothing wrong with being transparent. It is actually a mantra of mine; I believe being transparent is the way to create authentic relationships.
But there’s a huge problem in this dialog, specifically. And most people will never realize how important this is.
When you show your friends your concerns about how the restaurant operation is going, in the first moment they will probably empathize with you:
“Oh, don’t worry man, I’m sure every new business starts that way, you’ll see it will get better! It’s just a matter of never giving up, and people will eventually come!”
But what will happen in the second moment when they aren’t anymore talking to you?
– Please, read carefully, this is the crucial information. –
When third parties ask your friends how is your business going – because as friends they might know it, right? – your friends can genuinely say that it isn’t going as well as you initially desired.
Now, this seems pretty harmless, right?
However, in this sentence, they just helped to kill your business.
Every time someone says that your business isn’t going as well as you expected, they are unintentionally stating that it isn’t attracting customers – that it is not appealing.
And you know how human beings are?
We all move toward what attracts the masses. Success is like gravity; it is an unyielding force of attraction.
One person tells another a piece of information, this one tells to the next one, and so on.
So, if you have someone saying that your new business isn’t successful, it will hardly attract people. In fact, it will actually alienate potential customers, and everything will be tougher.
This is particularly the case in Business-to-Consumer (B2C) businesses, where all comes down to promotion and virality because there is more emotion at stake and less logical behavior.
You can call this phenomenon “Negative Buzz”, and you want to avoid it at all cost.
It will only bring additional hassles to your business if there is an overall consensus in your target market that your company is facing difficulties.
For a lot of reasons, it will push people away, instead of bringing them closer.
If you want to find some concrete examples, look at how people behave in the B2C universe.
A lot of times you find excellent restaurants empty, and as long as no one enters the restaurant, they will remain empty.
Or you find stores in a shopping mall full of people and their competitor, who sells the same product at the same price, on the next door, has no one buying.
Another case you might have already noticed is that when you walk into an empty shop to buy a product, suddenly you might look around, and verify the shop is now full of people, right after you entered.
Why does that happen?
Because we are attracted to other people.
When we see an empty place, we aren’t drawn to it, and we just walk away. Am I wrong?
However, the exact opposite happens when you share some outstanding news! When third parties reach your friends and ask them about your business, your friends will probably say it’s going tremendously great!
By definition, Positive Buzz will drive exponential promotion and attract more and more customers – the contrary of the Negative Buzz.
I’d like to state how important this is, mostly because when we create a business, we’re usually in the middle, it isn’t going great, but it still doesn’t stink.
And here is where my supervisor’s advice makes perfect sense:
You want to tell EVERYONE that your business is going great!
It is going way better than you expected! You have outstanding feedback from your customers, no churn rate or whatsoever, and, in fact, more and more people are referring you to their friends or relatives!
Even though this might not be precisely accurate – and I obviously don’t want to encourage you to lie – you must understand there is a thin line between i) intentionally exaggerating and ii) promoting your business – also known as Marketing.
You see, the difficulty here is to control your emotions and willingness to share your concerns openly when you’re worried about your business performance so that you can promote it instead.
This is definitely hard; I know it from my own experience.
But remember this: when things aren’t going as well as expected, sharing your concerns with people will just make it worse. It is an exponential effect you cannot avoid, because:
1. People talk, and there’s nothing you can do about it;
2. A genuine and harmless opinion will turn out in bad promotion for your business, alienating potential customers.
So the next time someone asks you how’s your business going, what will you say?
PS: There is one outstanding theory related to this issue that was once presented by Simon Sinek. Simon clearly states that your entire addressable market will only buy your product after 18% of them (the early adopters) have tested it and successfully shared the results. I will be writing a post about this topic in the future.