Wikipedia defines gossip as: "…idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of
Gossip is emotional in nature. We gossip when the subject gives us an emotional rise and we think it will do the same for others. Nowadays, gossip has achieved international stature through the media and the Internet. Gossiping over the backyard fence simply isn't good enough anymore. People magazine, E! News, TMZ, Perez Hilton, and the stalkerazzi are all examples of our national obsession for gossip.
We gossip about TV and movie celebrities, politicians, and sports stars. Apparently, those groups haven't quenched our insatiable thirst for gossip as we now gossip about people who have no reason to be famous. Snookie? Jon and Kate? The Balloon Boy? Uh, okay.
And guys, don't go thinking your not involved in gossip or blameless. You laughed with your buddies about Tiger and his 121 affairs. Guess what? That's gossip.
So why am I writing about gossip in my marketing/strategy/innovation blog?
Because I'm suggesting that we want our customers gossiping about us.
Of course, I'm not saying we want them to talk about anything negative or salacious. I'm talking about sharing positive, memorable stories, but sharing them the same way they would share gossip.
I'm talking about Referrals.
Say what, you're thinking?
Here's the thing. Let's say you build widgets. A good customer calls and says, "We really screwed up! Our buyer has been on vacation the last two weeks and we didn't realize we were so low on widgets! Our production line is shut down. We need 500 widgets ASAP!"
What do you do?
A. Calmly say it's no problem. You can get the order processed today and 500 widgets will be shipped overnight tomorrow for delivery the next day?
B. Go back to the warehouse. Box up 500 widgets yourself and overnight them today?
C. Tell the client you'll load up 500 widgets in your car and drive 200 miles to personally deliver them tonight?
A can be described as good, efficient service. But will it get talked about? No.
B can be described as really good service. But will it get talked about? No.
C is over-the-top, extraordinary, unexpected service. Will it get talked about? Yes!
Getting people to willingly and without prompting talk about us is a lot like getting people to gossip about us. The story has to be really good. The story has to be extraordinary.
People never said, "Hey, did you hear Tiger Woods had a nice evening with his wife and family last night?" It wasn't until we had something out-of-the-ordinary…no, actually WAY out-of-the-ordinary that we talked about them. "Did you hear Tiger wrecked his Escalade last night after Elin smashed in his rear window?"
Just like gossip, in business, if something is WORTH talking about, it gets talked about.
You want referrals, right? So what are you doing to get your customers gossiping about you?