What’s the best form of advertising? Word of Mouth! Anyone who’s ever received one of those phone calls “Hi, my friend Peter recommended that I call you – I’d really love to engage you to do XYZ” knows the feeling – it’s exciting, it’s efficient and its great business!
Word of mouth referrals do sometimes happen with absolutely no effort on your part, other than the continued delivery of great service. However, there are a number of ways to proactively stimulate increased word-of-mouth business:
1. Customer referrals – mandatory! Be sure to have a program in place through which you actually ask customers for referrals. It’s as simple as ABC:
- Do your customers know who you’re looking for?
- Do they know how to articulate your key messages?
- Have you offered a reward to them or to the people they refer?
2. Referral partners – to increase your referral sources beyond just clients, join a group of like-minded (but non-competing) businesses and start referring business to each other. The best-established, and probably most effective, is BNI. Attend breakfast once a week and enjoy the inflow of business! Apply the same ABC as mentioned above – educate other members of the group so that they can become great referrers to you.
3. Strategic Alliances – how many other (again non-competing) businesses are out there targeting and serving the same clients and prospects that you’d love to have? Identify a few and start building your relationship with them. Referring business to each other (ongoing or just as a one-off promotion) is a great way of generating word of mouth marketing. To make it work well, apply the same ABC as listed above.
If you implement just two or three such programs and maintain the delivery of real “WOW” service, you’ll have a constant stream of word-of-mouth clients knocking at your door!