Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to grow your service business.
Think about the marketing costs associated with nearly every other form of advertising to your service business...Social media? Lead Gen? Etc. Etc. Etc.
While customers are of maximum importance to all businesses, client testimonials (and essentially word of mouth) are literally gold to service-based businesses.
It’s free, or at most costs very little, yet I'm usually shocked at how very few businesses use it to anywhere near it’s potential!
Consider this: if you got just one referral from each one of your clients, over the next 60 days you’d double your client base!
What would that mean to your potential income and how many more people would you be helping in supportive and uplifting ways?
So, how do you maximize word of mouth?
Here are 5 Steps you can take now…
1. Show Appreciation to Clients
Really appreciate your clients and let them know consistently you value them. This is the most important, yet overlooked element of creating endless referrals.
Many businesses focus more on profits than on people. Focusing on profits alone can be detrimental to success and ‘Word of Mouth’ success comes from looking beyond just profit into how you can enrich your customer’s lives.
Action: At least once a month, take the time to communicate to each of your clients and show them you appreciate them. Send them something of value, something unexpected, a bonus report, a special piece of news you just found. Make it relevant to them and do it regularly.
2. Maximize Every Customer Service Interaction
Create an exceptional experience each time a customer deals with you or your company. If you can make doing business with you an exceptional experience, your clients will want to tell a lot of people. People want amazing experiences!
Here is an example: There is a Life Coach in Brisbane who has a special relationship with a city coffee shop. Once every 8 weeks he invites his clients to a ‘brains trust’ meeting and the coffee and cake is on the house. Every client that attends gets a card and a voucher from the coffee shop owner to say ‘Thank you for joining us today, we would love to see you again soon’. The voucher is a ‘buy one get one free’ coffee voucher. So, they are encouraged to come back again. And because the coffee shop owner is exposing his business to potential new clients the coach pays just cost price on the coffee and cake his clients eat. Normally about 8 clients attend and the cost is around $30. Just a little extra touch can make dealing with your business that much more of an exceptional experience!
Action: What can you do now to add little things that make an exceptional experience? Perhaps you can use the above example or something similar. Remember, start creating exceptional experiences today.
3. Give Customers an Incentive for Referrals
If you’re being passive about referrals then you’re sitting on a gold-mine. Come up with ways of rewarding your clients for referring business to you.
They could receive free gifts, such as a 30-minute back massage voucher for referring a friend or a free Style Cut from an award winning beauty salon. The businesses involved would welcome the opportunity to have new clients come their way and would be happy to give that first style cut or treatment for free if they understand the potential value of a new customer.
Action: Reward your clients for referring people to you. Come up with rewards that will be beneficial to your clients. If you worked with executive clients perhaps a free 30-minute health check at a trusted health center would be valuable or a voucher to use at an upmarket clothing boutique.
4. Make it easy for clients to give you referrals
If you want to get lots of referrals, you must make it incredibly easy for your clients to tell their friends. Don’t expect them to go way out of the way to help you grow your business. Make it as simple as possible.
Action: Develop a ‘referral package’ that you give to your clients. Ask your clients to be an ambassador for your business as you wish to work with people similar to them. The package would include a letter explaining why referrals are important to you, and a series of referral cards that your client can give out to others. Present it professionally and it will hold more value, more worth.
5. Ask at the right time!
When is the best time to ask for referrals? Any time!
If you have followed the steps listed above…you’ve let clients know they are appreciated, you’ve made dealing with you an exceptional experience, you give them an incentive to share your message with friends and you make it easy for them to do so…you can ask for referrals at any time.
Action: The key is to do something now. Draft up a letter or e-mail today and just send it off to your clients letting them know how much you value them, who much you have enjoyed working with them in the past and include something that is going to be helpful, useful for them to use, read or understand. Then over the next 4 to 6 weeks develop your ‘referral package’ and start to use it. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and take action, because if you don’t someone will, and what will that mean to your business in the years to come.
In my experience with fellow entrepreneurs, it's surprising how many driven business owners will rack their brain thinking through marketing plays yet dread the simple task of asking for a friendly referral. (sheesh)
Remember, don't overthink this and don't get in your own head. It's simple, ask and more times than not you shall receive.