Why is word-of-mouth the most powerful influencer?

In November, Valley Forge Romance Writers met to learn from entrepreneurs in my workshop “Craft Marketing Plans like an Authorpreneur.” First, I shared principle one: that authors must communicate and deliver a compelling benefit.

Now, let’s look at the top metric that entrepreneurs use to gauge success. It’s called Net Promoter Score (NPS). Simply ask your customers (readers) “how likely would you be to recommend this product (book or author) to friends and family?”

Rate the answer on a one to ten scale. Sounds deceptively basic, right? Here’s the catch. NPS is calculated as:

  • %Promoters (9-10’s) minus %Detractors (6’s and below)

7’s and 8’s, which might seem like a decent score are considered Passives, and don’t event count. The bar is incredibly high. So why do entrepreneurs obsess over recruiting more promoters than detractors? Because only those most passionate (9-10’s) are excited enough to talk about your work. This is key to spread word-of-mouth, which is powerful because as there’s no more credible source for recommendations than those you know and trust.

As an author, you don’t have to poll your readers to calculate a net promoter score. What is useful, though, is aiming for such captivating storytelling that you’re building brand lovers who are willing to buzz about your books. Halo Top achieved this in frozen treats, reaching its tipping point after journalists were so intrigued by the brand that they wrote articles about “Eat[ing] nothing but this magical…ice cream for ten days.” The Celestine Prophecy is still in print twenty-five years after James Redfield generated word-of-mouth selling copies from the back of his car.

To be clear, there’s no need to invent a low-calorie snack, to shill your book from your trunk, or even to measure your Net Promoter Score. Instead, write the best book you can, because that’s what will earn you word-of-mouth.

Happy writing,

Carol Van Den Hende, MBA

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