It’s never been more important to pay attention to word-of-mouth advertising than it is in this age of social proof and social networking. A full 80% of us make our buying decisions based on personal recommendations—whether it involves books, classes, movies, financial advisors, new cars, health practitioners, veterinarians, or thousands of other classifications that are personal and involve trust.
Word-of-mouth marketing is as simple as it gets—people talking to other people because they’ve had a good experience that they want to share. And the information being shared usually carries a lot of weight because the recipient of the information trusts and has faith in the knowledge of the person doing the communicating.
Word-of-mouth is a combination of high visibility and good timing. To stimulate word-of-mouth you need to be consistently and clearly marketing yourself, thinking about who should be talking about you, and what they should be saying. However, don’t confuse word-of-mouth with referrals. While both marketing vehicles must begin with—and are the end result of—doing excellent work, people generally give referrals only when asked for help. This is more of a passive exchange of information than an active one generated by the excitement of receiving something beneficial.
Even doing excellent work, by itself, isn’t enough because most of your enthusiastic supporters won’t recommend you without being prompted. Therefore it is incumbent upon you to take action and ask them to spread the word…and perhaps make it worth their while to do so.
Here are some ideas to consider from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Ohio that will get people to spread the word about you and your services:
Provide a free giveaway — Everyone loves to get something for free, and those who receive gifts are likely to talk positively about those who provided them. Just make sure the item you’re giving away provides some sort of real value to the recipient.
Break away from the norm — People pay attention when something goes against the routines your prospects and clients are used to seeing. Trying something different that benefits them will generally bring about favorable comments.
Pay awards and privileges forward — If you grant special promotions to those who hire you or buy from you, consider empowering them with the right to share the benefits with others. This is a great way to bring in new business.
Be attentive — You need to pay attention to your clients’ and customers’ reactions for clues about what they’ll say to others regarding your business. Especially be aware of any negative comments so you can minimize the damage by being proactive about providing a solution.
Show appreciation — Always thank someone who took the time to pass along word of your services to someone else. Whether you thank them in person, call them on the telephone, or thank the person in writing via a short email, your recognition of their kindness will likely result in more referrals.
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Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles