A great way to make a small business more successful is to harness the power of word of mouth advertising. I’ve been in business for myself for over 20 years. I am convinced that word of mouth marketing is the pillar. There is simply no better way to grow your business. The price is right and the legitimacy and authority of a friend recommending your business to another friend is extremely powerful.
Most people think that there is nothing you can do to create this kind of buzz for your business. It has to happen by itself. But that is not true. In fact, it won’t happen by itself no matter how wonderful your business is. The good news is that the following 6 steps will get your best clients and customers talking about your business to their best friends (in a good way). Let’s dive in.
1. Make Your Business Buzzable
Before you expect your clients to send all their friends your way, make sure your business delivers world-class service. But first things first. Set aside time. Investigate your business. Look for the business problems you need to solve. Brainstorm with your staff. What do clients want that you currently fail to provide? Welcome client complaints. Go over those problems with a fine-tooth comb and put systems in place so they don’t come up again. Getting rid of the thorns is not going to create word of mouth advertising for your business. But until you get rid of the obstacles (like issues that keep inconveniencing your clients or other hurdles that disturb them) you’ll never achieve your goal.
2. Ask Questions
Once you’ve gotten rid of the problems that might be creating negative buzz, it’s time to find out what your clients really want. One of the business mistakes that almost sunk my business several years ago was failure to find out what my clients really wanted.
There is really only one way to do that and that’s to ask them. It doesn’t matter if you are a therapist or a pie maker; have a sit down meeting with your best clients. Ask them what they expect by working with you. Ask them what would have to happen in order for them to be so excited by their experience that they’d tell all their friends to come see you.
3. Integrate Your Quest for Excellence
You now know what your clients really want. Assuming you can profitably deliver it, start delivering. Set up systems to make sure you automatically provide world-class service to your clients day in day out. Communicate with your clients to make sure you are providing world-class service. Ask them what else you need to do to make their experience with your firm outstanding.
4. Ask, Ask Ask
Have another meeting with your clients. Remind them what they asked for and then get their agreement that you are indeed providing it. At that point, ask them to come up with ideas on how to market to the people they know. Your clients will provide innovative ideas and suggestions. Get them involved with the process.
5. Make It Easy
Look for low-risk and non-salesy ways for your clients to introduce you to their friends. Sponsor a charitable event that will require your involvement with the organization your client is connected with. Host a poker event or bridge tournament. Find a fun way to connect with your clients and your clients’ friends. Don’t push yourself but be available.
Above all, be authentic. Take these steps for the right reasons. Sure you’ll get word of mouth advertising for free but you’ll get much more than that.
- How powerful would it be to identify and get rid of the big problems your clients experience?
- How helpful would it be if you knew what your customers really want?
- How fun would it be to network with new people you like being around?
The steps I outlined above will help transform your business but don’t take them in order to manipulate clients. They will see right through you if you do. Look inside your business, find the people you care most about and connect with them on a level they will appreciate. You’ll have more business than you know what to do with and you’ll have a lot more fun along the way.
Does your business get a lot of word of mouth referrals? Why do you think that is?