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How to start conversations

I’ve blogged before about my very pretty new monitor from Dell.  It’s become an interesting case study.

Letitia runs the office where we sublet, and she’s an Apple user.  She came by my office to ask a question, and immediately noticed the monitor.  I told her it was only $239, and was Mac compatible. She said she had been saving up for a monitor from Apple for 3x the price, but she was going to check out the Dell instead.

Here are some interesting word of mouth marketing ideas that came from the conversation:

1.  Use conversation-starters.
An Apple cable came with the monitor, and I’ll never use it. This cost Dell money — but if it hadn’t been there, I never would have known it was Apple-compatible.  The cable is a conversation starter. The resulting word of mouth pays for the extra cost. What can you put in the box to start a conversation?

2.  Use good names. 
It’s hard to recommend the "SP2208WFP" and it’s harder for the person you’re talking with to remember it. Call it the Fred 22" or something like that.  (It’s easier to recommend a Camry than an SLX.) Simple product names get better word of mouth.

3.  Use simple URLs.
Create simple web pages to match product names. Let your talkers say "Just go to" — easy to recommend and easy to buy. Make it easier to turn a referral into a site visit.

4.  Use referral landing pages.
Create a place for recommenders to send people.  For example, give me a page at with all my favorite purchases and wish lists. It’s easy to do and it makes me look great when I tell people about it. Give me points when my friends visit. Give referrers status and recognition.

The lesson:  Great word of mouth is more than buzz. It’s nailing the simple tactics that help the conversation spread.

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