I don’t know what exactly possessed me to do this, but I once sat down with a lever-arch file of our invoices for the previous year, and tallied where each client originally came from.
Now I knew word of mouth was important, but because my focus was on the areas of marketing you could actually do something about, I was in a strange way disappointed when I discovered it topped the list.
Not that I wasn't pleased with all the business it had generated. I was actually quite proud we were doing something great in the world of IT support that got clients recommending.
I was disappointed because my first thought was that I couldn't do anything about word of mouth. After all, it either happens or it doesn't and I couldn't imagine what I could do to change it.
Fast forward 11 years to today and now I help people generate word of mouth business. I have discovered literally dozens of ways of achieving it and I thought I’d share a few with the Admin Angels UK blog readers:
4 Ways To Gently Push Word Of Mouth
Tip 1: Capture Stories Of Positive Clients Experiences
The currency of word of mouth is stories. In other words, why exactly your happy clients choose you, and how they positively experienced whatever it is that you do. Interview your clients. Create a story in their words. Or get an expert to do it. Once you have them, publish them on your website. Print them out and take them to new client meetings. Email them as PDFs with your quotes and proposals and watch your sales conversions soar.
Tip 2: Ask For Referrals
This is so obvious, I almost didn't include it. But even if you are afraid to ask, it’s a good idea to make your clients aware. Add a line to your email signature:
Are we doing well? If you are unhappy with anything, we’ll fix it. If however you think we’re doing great, please tell a friend about us.
Tip 3: Say Thank You To Your Clients
A foundation stone of word of mouth is being top of mind with your clients. Especially if you don’t deal with your client very often, don’t forget them. At least once a year, send an email to your clients to simply say thank you. Nothing else. Something like:
Like you, we get really busy. I hope we tell you how much we appreciate your custom, but in case we haven’t for a while, I wanted to write to do just that. So thank you! We really appreciate you!
I have seen “thank you” emails get 4 possible results:
1) Repeat business - just reminding people you still exist can prompt them to order from you again.
2) Referrals – being top of mind keeps you prominent and on the tip of clients’ tongues. Ideal when an opportunity to refer occurs.
3) Compliments – people will often share their appreciation of you too – testimonials can very easily be generated by a simple email like this.
4) Complaints – I know this may sound negative, but if a client who is not happy has slipped through the net, when they reply, you have an opportunity to put things right and save a client from leaving.
Tip 4: When People Recommend You, Send Them A Small Gift
This happened to me once. I had recommended somebody, and they sent me a bottle of wine as a thank you. I recommended them again and again. But you don’t even have to spend a lot. Nor go shopping to buy a gift, wrap it, and take it to the post office. Instead you can visit sites like Moonpig where you can choose a gift and have it sent with a card. Simply say something like:
I was so pleased that you recommended us recently. In fact it was a huge boost to the whole team that you were so happy with us that you recommended us. Referrals are the lifeblood of our business, so as a small thank you for thinking of us, please accept this small token of our appreciation.
Word Of Mouth – You Really Can Do Something About It
Those 4 tips are things we can all do. Of course the very best way to get word of mouth is to continue to deliver a great service.
Ian Denny is a word of mouth expert, helping small businesses generate word of mouth. You can get his 37 tips and see examples of the client stories he produces here: http://socialproof.co.uk