Whether you’re trying to land more speaking engagements, market your book, or grow your website, word of mouth is the biggest tool in your arsenal.
When people start talking about you and recommending you, your ministry will grow.
But how do you generate word of mouth?
Pretty much every marketing book you will ever read will tell you to search your brain for anybody you know who is influential in their own particular little part of the world, and contact them. My mom is a career counsellor, and she is always telling people that it is networking that helps people land jobs, and so you simply must make a list of all the people that you know–and then work your own network.
Does the very thought of that cause you to break out into hives?
We picture ourselves being seen as some insurance salesman, bugging all our friends to buy insurance, or as an Amway or Tupperware rep, trying to get all of our friends to host parties and buy stuff from us. We hate the idea of having to sell ourselves.
But it really isn’t like that–especially not for ministry. If God has given you a message to share, then He really does want the word to get out there. And most people, when they are asked if they can do a favour, like make an introduction, send out a tweet, or let you guest post, will be happy to do so–especially if it takes little of their time.
The key is to identify which people you should be contacting to help you spread the word!
To do that, I want to introduce a concept that I got from Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. He was exploring the idea of how something can be chugging along like normal, not getting much notice, when all of a sudden it takes off–what we would call “going viral” today. And everybody’s heard about it.
Carly Rae Jepson’s song Call Me Maybe was released long before it entered the public consciousness. But then one day Justin Bieber tweeted it–and all of a sudden everybody was singing it.
How do we cause a “tipping point”?
Well, Gladwell says we have to concentrate on three different types of people:
Mavens: Those who accumulate knowledge and are connoisseurs in their field
Connectors: Those people who know everybody–and can connect you to everybody
Salesmen: Those who are able to persuade people (and it’s often in the little things that they are effective!)
Here’s how it works: A maven discovers that some product/book/person is exceptional, and they let a connector know. The connector then tells his or her social circle, including some people who are likely salesmen. The salesmen tell their social circle, and BOOM! You have a tipping point.
Let’s look at a story that shows this a little more concretely.
In the 1960s a psychologist named Milgram wanted to see how connected people were. He randomly chose 160 people who lived in Omaha, Nebraska, an sent them a package that they were asked to get to a stockbroker in Boston. They couldn’t just mail it to him, though. They had to mail it to someone they already knew that they thought could get it closer to the stockbroker.
When asked how many people they thought this package would have to go through, most people thought about 100. But it ended up being 6–hence the term “six degrees of separation” was born. But here’s what’s really interesting: Half of those 160 packages got to the stockbroker through just 3 individuals. There were 3 people that received dozens of packages and handed them to the guy. What was so special about those three people?
They were connectors–people that know everybody.
In the six degrees of separation, not all degrees are equal…Six degrees of separation doesn’t mean that everyone is linked to everyone else in just six steps. It means that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few.
Here’s How This Relates to Generating Word of Mouth
When we’re thinking of who can help us get the word out, we usually try to wrack our brains to think of what salesmen we know–who do we know in the media? Who do we know in publishing? In women’s ministry? On church staff somewhere? In Christian radio? In politics?
These are important people–but chances are we know other people who can help us, too. We may know Mavens who write small but influential blogs, or who run a small but well-respected ministry. And most of all, we may know Connectors who can help us get in touch with Salesmen who can help us get the word out.
So here’s what you do: Think of the salesmen you know in your social circles. But then think of what Mavens you know. Who do you know who is influential, even if they’re not in the media or don’t have an obvious platform? And most of all, who do you know that just knows everybody else? That seems to collect acquaintances the way that some people collect stamps?
Write down the names and contact information of as many people as you can think of.
I’ve got some printables you can download to help you brainstorm and record your influencers! Just click here!
Next: We’ll look at what to do with your list of people to help get the word out–how to contact them, what to say, and how to make it more likely they will spread your message.