Word Of Mouth Marketing, Free Lunch Or Not?
On the top of the list of conversation pieces when talking to business owners is marketing. And when I ask what is the main type of marketing they are using to get their message out to potential customers, they almost always say “word of mouth“.
I was a little taken back at first but now I expect it. Now don’t get me wrong here, word of mouth can be a powerful way to market any business, but it is slow and unreliable. It can take an awful lot of time, in most cases, years to build success from this way alone, and that is assuming you do everything right..
My favourite analogy for word of mouth or referral marketing is its a free lunch, but having said that, is there really such a thing?.
By being solely reliant on word of mouth, you’re putting the fate of your business in the hands of others – hoping they both like you and remember you often enough to regularly send new business your way. Dangerous ground my friend.. If this is how you currently do business, then now’s the time to start thinking about making your marketing system a little stronger..
So, how do we go about doing just that?
Build a Strong Marketing System
As I eluded to in the previous paragraph, having a single source of generating new business, is a dangerous path to tread for any business. Being unable to control that source makes it doubly so.
I recommend having at the very least 5 different sources for obtaining new leads and customers. AND that almost all of these sources be with paid media i.e. it will cost you to market yourself. There are 2 reasons why paid media is so important.
Firstly, reliability. If I pay a newspaper to run my ad, there’s an extremely high probability the ad will actually be run. It’s much harder to get such reliable and consistent lead flow from free marketing methods such as word of mouth.
And secondly, using paid media will make you, to put it simply, focus on the money you spend against, the money you get back or ROI (Return On Investment). If a paid marketing method is not working, you cut it. You don’t waste further time or money on it. So, when the marketing method is organic (free) such as word of mouth, we are least inclined to “cut and run” if something isn’t working and wasting huge amounts of time, because we didn’t pay upfront.
Word of Mouth Reliability Boost
Word of Mouth can be a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal, and while you don’t want to rely on this solely, it is to your advantage to increase it’s power and reliability.
One the most often neglected ways of doing this is by asking for a referral from those customers that you have received a good experience or result. It’s amazing how many business owners hope for referrals yet rarely ask for them.
Something as simple as:
Valued customer, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you. If you know anyone who’s in a similar situation as yourself we’d love you to give them one of these gift cards which entitles them to $100 off their first consultation with us. One of the reasons we’re able to keep the cost of our service low is because we get a lot of our business through referrals from people like you.”
Are seeing what is happening?
We’re acknowledging them and appealing to their ego.
We’re not asking them for a favour but instead offering something valuable they can give to someone in their network.
We’re giving them a reason why they should give us referrals – a reason that directly benefits them.
By putting a system around generating referrals, we’ve dramatically increased the reliability of word of mouth marketing. And while not everyone will give you referrals, many will and it sure beats just silently hoping.
Relying on the goodwill of others is not my idea of being an entrepreneur.
By creating multiple sources of new leads and increasing the reliability of word of mouth marketing, you take back control of your lead flow and build a solid foundation for rapid business growth.
Like to acknowledge the wonderful insights of Alan Dib (Successwise)