Word of mouth marketing certainly gets talked about all the time, but the reality is that very few people understand how to properly utilize this powerful tool. Obtaining word of mouth referrals actually does require a bit of work and determination, and it isn’t something that just magically occurs, so if you are expecting it to work that way, you are bound to be disappointed.
Many people mistakenly believe that there is absolutely no way to control any aspect of spreading the word about their business (except for paying marketing expenses, of course). Free word of mouth is something that most business people, particularly the self-employed, think of as something that either happens, or it doesn’t, and they don’t understand how to try to make it happen for them.
The reality is that there are some positive actions you can take to help spread the word about your business in an effort to generate some activity and perhaps acquire new customers. One of the most important things you can learn is how to network. Networking is absolutely essential to building good word of mouth referrals, but you have to learn how to do it properly in order for it to work for you.
With the growing popularity of social networking sites, there are endless opportunities for you to advertise your business existence and let people know who you are. For many people, however, social networking is still a somewhat mysterious thing that they are, quite frankly, a little wary of. How do you know who you are “connecting with? And, more importantly, how do you know whether that person is legitimate? Are they trustworthy? Are they dangerous?
These questions tend to keep people (except for those under the age of about 25) from avidly getting involved in social networking. People are wary of connecting to strangers online, and they should be. What you have to learn is how to protect yourself and make sure that you are connecting to reputable people. The best way to do this is to only connect to people you actually know, or who are “connected” to someone else that you know and trust. If you follow this general guideline, you should be able to remain relatively safe in the world of social networking.
Understanding Your Clients
You should also maintain an active, up to date contact list of former and current clients. Keep in touch with people even if you haven’t done any work for them in a while. This will keep you in their minds, even if only subconsciously, and it might just get you some additional work down the road. You can do this by sending people cards at Christmas or Hanukkah, birthdays, or for milestone events in their businesses. Even if you just send someone a brief email to touch base, you will keep your name (and that of your business) in the client’s mind.
You should also develop a really good understanding of how to cultivate healthy working relationships. People like to work with individuals that they know and can rely on. If you have done good work for someone in the past, try to maintain that working relationship and build upon it. You never know when someone is going to refer you to a fellow business associate, so learn to be on your toes when it comes to dealing with your clients.