How to Make Word of Mouth Marketing Work For You
Think of the last time you bought something – anything.
Even if it was during a regular hum-drum trip to the grocery store, chances are you took a chance on a new product thanks to word of mouth marketing.
And even with the billions of dollars spent on advertising and online marketing each year, word of mouth is still the #1 way most people make buying decisions about everything from choosing a life coach to choosing a new brand of peanut butter.
People need assurance that the hard-earned money they’re about to spend is going to be worth the investment. The best way to mitigate the risk of buying a new product or service is to have someone you already know and trust vet that product or service for you beforehand.
This is great news for entrepreneurs and small business professionals like you. By embracing the principles of word of mouth marketing, you can give prospective clients a way to know, like, and trust you before you’ve ever worked together.
Build a Strong Foundation
Word of mouth marketing is based on the testimonials of your current coaching clients. If your current clients are anything less than over-the-moon about you and your brand, word of mouth marketing will be a tough sell.
Optimize your current client relationships by….
- Always going above and beyond
- Giving each and every coaching client your best every time you work together
- Providing little extras and freebies ‘just because’
- Listening to your client’s needs and wants
- Implementing client feedback into your practice
It’s those results that will naturally encourage people to tell their friends about you and your services.
Use Natural Encouragement
Once you’ve built a strong foundation, it’s time to give your clients a little encouragement.
Don’t be afraid to ask for your referrals and encourage current clients to tell a friend about you and your services.
Depending on your industry (or coaching niche), this can be done in a very casual, conversational matter, like at the end of a personal training or coaching session.
It can also be executed in a more formal manner, by inviting clients to participate in a VIP club or asking them to post on Facebook on your behalf.
This step in the process is a very natural one that does not include official incentives or ‘kickbacks.’ For many entrepreneurs, gentle verbal and/or written encouragement is much more effective than any kind of official word of mouth rewards program or marketing campaign.
Only you know your clients and what they’ll respond to. If an affiliate program seems like overkill, it probably is.
One of my clients includes the following p.s. line in her email signature: “If you know someone who needs personal training, all referrals are greatly appreciated.”
It’s simple, clear, and to the point, and brings in a minimum of 2 new clients per month for her. As her client base grows, her referrals grow as well.
Notice that she doesn’t offer anything in return for the referral save a genuine thanks. She has developed the kind of friendly report with her client base that gives her permission to ask a favor, just as one would a friend.
Incentive Your Tribe
For other entrepreneurs, the most effective type of word of mouth marketing takes advantage of more systemized programs and offers.
These might include…
- Paid mastermind groups
- A financial kickback or discount for referring a friend
- Coupons or discounts for sharing opportunities with friends on social media
- Access to a VIP membership club
- Paid testimonials
- Affiliate marketing
As your business grows, there are more and more opportunities to expand your reach with word of mouth marketing. When first starting out, hiring affiliate marketers to promote your brand may not even be plausible.
But once you reach a certain level and your past and present client base expands, you may want to begin offering incentives to those clients who need a little encouragement to refer their friends.
We live in a busy, mile-a-minute world where the most precious commodity is time. If your clients feel they are getting fairly compensated by taking the time to refer you to a friend, they’re far more likely to go the extra mile.
The most powerful referrals come from friends talking to friends of their own accord. The most effective way to control this outcome is by providing outstanding service that people can’t wait to talk about.
Beyond that, it’s important to ask for referrals once you have established strong connections with your clients. Remember that people can’t read your mind and that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for referrals point blank.
From there, you can create kickback programs and affiliate offers to clients looking for incentives to go the extra mile and get you that referral.
Remember that word of mouth marketing works best when it’s executed with your brand in mind. A small, intimate micro-business may do well to keep their requests personal, while a growing fitness practice or coaching studio may thrive with a more systemized approach.