What if there was a way to build your business, year in and year out, regardless of fluctuations in the economy or the activities of your competition?  Well, there is.  It’s called “word of mouth”.  Word-of-mouth marketing truly is the world’s best-known marketing secret.  You're probably wondering, how can anything be both the best-known and a secret at the same time?  Easy.  Practically every businessperson knows how important word-of-mouth marketing is.  Yet, almost no one truly understands how to build their business through word of mouth.

As a businessman and educator, I can state with confidence that we are not teaching the next generation of business professionals anything about word-of-mouth marketing.

Some people think that word of mouth is a little like the weather… fairly important, but not much they can do about it.  Many others however, think that it’s just about good customer service, but it’s not.  Don’t get me wrong, good customer service is critical for the success of any business, but if you expect happy customers to talk about you a lot – think again. 

For the last two decades, I’ve talked to tens of thousands of business professionals about word-of-mouth marketing and customer service.  I’ve described how the “average unhappy client” can talk to dozens of people about their bad experience.  I’ve then asked my audiences if their “average happy client” truly talks to as many people as a potential unhappy client.  In two decades, no one has ever said yes to that question! 

Unfortunately, people are more likely to talk about your business when they are unhappy than when they are happy or satisfied.  Therefore, good customer service generally reduces “negative” word of mouth.  However, the good news is – there are many things entrepreneurs and business professionals can do to positively impact their business through word of mouth.

Below, are the three most important things that a business professional can do to start the process of increasing their business through word of mouth. 

 

1.   

Diversify Your Networks 

I believe that most business professionals are cave dwellers.  They get up each morning in a large cave with a big screen TV called their home.  They go out to their garage and get into a little cave with four wheels called their car.  They go to another really big cave with plenty of computers called their office.  At the end of the day, they get back into their little cave with four wheels and drive back to the large cave with the big screen TV and they can’t figure out why no one is referring them.  If you want to build your business through word of mouth, you have to be visible and active in the community by participating in various networking groups and/or professional associations.

 

2.   

Develop Your Contact Spheres. 

Contact Spheres are businesses that are symbiotic and non-competitive to you.  For example: a lawyer, an accountant, a financial planner, and a banker.  All of them have clients with overlapping similar needs.  They can all work with and refer each other easily.  Another good example is what I call the wedding mafia: the florist, photographer, travel agent, and jeweler.  A referral for one of them becomes a referral for all of them.  You should immediately determine what professions fit within your Contact Spheres and start to develop relationships with them.

 

3.   

Word of Mouth is more about Farming than it is about Hunting!

Building your business through word of mouth is about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you.  People do business with people they have confidence in.  One of the most important things I’ve learned in the last two decades is: it’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s how well you know them that counts.  If you go into this process understanding this one key point, you will have a better opportunity to build your business through word of mouth.