I recently read an article by Fiona Smith on ‘6 ways to boost your word-of-mouth’. The title in itself grabbed my attention – why? The reason for that is that when we ask business leaders the key question ‘How do your clients find you?’ they often do not know how to respond and usually say ‘word-of-mouth’. We know this means they are trying to avoid the question, or they do not have the data to support their answers to these two follow up questions:
- Who are your best client referrers?
- How many more companies did they introduce to you last year?
Those businesses who use ‘word-of-mouth’ as an important and constant channel to market will be engaged with all six boosting ways that Fiona Smith and Marc Cowper (the founder of Recomazing) have highlighted, and will understand Cowper’s advice:
- Their reputation is in your hands – will you be as good as they say you are?
- Referred clients are ‘power clients’ – they have already screened you and you are good to go.
- Don’t waste money on rewarding referrals – they need to refer ‘from the heart’.
- Fans want to help, but they are lazy – you need to help them!
- Go beyond expectations – if they are surprised and delighted by you, they will talk about you.
- Recovery – we inform our clients that all relationships ‘trip up’ at times, and the most important thing is in the recovery.
After we have asked ‘how do your customers find you?’ and get- “word-of-mouth” because they don’t really know. The next question is ‘how do you help your referrers to refer you?’.
I am going to take Marc Cowper’s tips to demonstrate how your strategic marketing and communications activity can help your referrers refer you better.
Make sure your market position is clear and aligned through your business. Hence, every involvement with your company is consistent. Always do what you promised you are going to do. However, if you do not, make sure you follow point  – recover well.
This means they progress through your Buyer’s Journey faster, making them more likely to need fewer touch points and less sales time. Furthermore, the data shows us that they stay around longer.
‘Money spent on rewarding referrals’
I agree with Marc Cowper’s advice because if you pay for referrals, they are just not authentic.
‘Fans want to help’
They really do, so help them. Make sure the value you add to your clients is clear and aligned in all of your communications and marketing activity. ‘Educate’ your advocates and provide them with the material to refer you – in addition to their experience. Most importantly, remember that businesses spend 70% to 90% researching you first before they reach out for a conversation with your sales team.
‘Go beyond expectations’
Understand your point of difference- your competitive advantage. Use this to go beyond their expectation and ‘Wow’ your clients. They will love talking about their experiences.
Your business will have a vision and set of values that speak to your behaviour. Don’t be frightened when you stuff up – just revert to basic behaviour and look at how you recover. No relationship is perfect.
Before considering Cowper’s tips, you may want to ask these questions of your business:
- How do your clients actually find you?
- How do you know who the good referrers are?
- How do you help those referrers to refer you?
- Do they refer the relevant clients?
- How much revenue did those referrers give to your business last year?
Word-of-mouth is a channel to market – nevertheless, it requires more support and nurturing, like all of your strategic marketing activities.