Word of mouth…ahhh! If only! You’d love to “go viral” and walk into the office, struggling to open the door because of the avalanche of orders as high as the ceiling.
Except people don’t send orders by post. So instead, you want hundreds of unopened emails from brand new customers, begging you to serve them next, because they are so desperate to get a slice of what you do, after the astounding campaign which got you star billing in the minds of your ideal clients as an overnight sensation.
Unless you’re prepared to don the equivalent of a sandwich board, dress like a chicken, and go clucking around your business neighbourhood to become a viral phenomenon, then I’m afraid this aint gonna happen. Especially if you’re British.
Instead, get word of mouth in a manageable, low-key way, with lots of mini-email avalanches as people gently recommend you.
It Takes Consistency, Not Chicken Outfits
It’s okay to just mildly surprise people. Or tell them something they didn’t know. If your message is well thought through, you can appeal to the intelligence and discernment of the type of client you want, through the words of intermediary channels.
Why not do a single-question survey? It doesn’t have to be about the latest celeb gossip. It can be about something your clients are passionate about work-wise. For example, has the election changed their perspective from positive to negative sentiment or the opposite? You may think politics is a boring topic, but in my experience, it creates a passionate response in surveys – especially with people in business.
Getting Clients Thinking, Talking And Engaging
A survey can be a single question, sent by plain text email to your clients, with a multiple choice response – A, B, C or D for example. Promise to report back with the results. Invite them to comment on their choice of answer. That way you can crunch some numbers to give people a straw poll of the most popular answer. And within each answer you can copy and paste some of the best comments.
But Why Bother? And What’s That Got To Do With Word Of Mouth
One of the cornerstones of word of mouth is “accessibility”. That means being top of mind. And like it or not, most people are too busy doing their own stuff – just like you are right now – to be remembering every supplier.
Especially if you don’t have many “touch points” with your client. You may only deal with your client once a month, a quarter, or once a year.
And when you do, if all you’re doing is what you do all the time, it won’t get noticed as much.
So, asking them what they think gets you top of their mind in a different way from normal. You can of course focus on a topic that indirectly links to what you do., and one of your strengths at that.
So what are you really good at? If you’re an accountant saving people tax, say:
I know you like us to save you tax, but is there a circumstance where you’d ever like to pay more tax?
A. For improved healthcare, B. To alleviate hunger or homelessness, C. To reduce crime, D – Something else – you choose
A single letter answer is good – but if you have a moment longer, give a reason for your choice (especially if you chose D).
And total the results. What percentage chose A, B, C. What were popular reasons for people to choose something else? Produce a little article with the best comments pasted in.
The Ultimate Touch Point To Ask For A Referral
When people are feeling good, that’s a great time to ask for a referral in a “safe” environment so to speak.
And at the end of an article which indirectly talks about your strengths in a more fun way, why not there?
Even if they do not refer you immediately, you have made them aware that you welcome referrals. And should a situation arise where a friend in business is complaining about tax, it may trigger right then.
Or, it could trigger immediately.
At the end of your survey report, say something like:
Referrals are the lifeblood of our business, helping us to grow and invest more in providing a continuously improving service. Do you know anyone else who would like to save tax? Please forward this on and share your experience of us as an expert in minimising the tax businesses pay.
Word of mouth happens. But it happens much more if you give it a gentle push and create situations where you become top of mind.
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Either copy, adapt and paste these questions, or ask your own about this topic or any other topic concerning growing your business through word of mouth:
“Yes, but this doesn’t apply to me because [your reason]…so, what can I do?”
“I am in the [insert business type] sector, how can I grow my business through word of mouth?”
Or you choose?