Word of mouth. It’s the essence of every professional and service firms' marketing program.
Is it random? Yes! Is it luck? No! Herewith, are two secrets for making WOM work for you. (Of course, once they’re shared they aren’t secrets anymore, are they? Just don’t tell anyone!)
Seeking referrals is not about chasing strangers for a sale. Rather, you are allowing the people you already know to get to know you better and, by staying in touch over time, reminding them that you are alive and still in business.
And then, when a colleague, friend, business person, parole officer, etc., of theirs, asks for a recommendation, your name is top of mind and they pass you along. But you need to accomplish a couple of things (these are secret so don’t read out loud or even let your lips move) ….
1. You have to be known for something
Solve a particular problem, serve a particular type of business, and work in a particular role. Say ‘I solve tax concerns for family businesses' (not just an accountant).
There’s nothing wrong with having a broad range of skills and experience, which are needed to succeed in many situations. But it is harder for a generalist because people want to engage experts, especially a leading expert in the problem they have.
2. You have to stay visible
Especially with the people you know. it’s okay to speak to a group, write a book, etc., but those people don’t know you and quickly forget you.
Instead, focus on activities that are ongoing and relationship-based. Join a networking group (like First Class Networking), email or call people to catch up, send thank you notes, and put out a newsletter regularly. Do anything that solidifies the connection with existing contacts.
The Point is ….
Who you know is Word-of-Mouth. It’s not meant to be targeting, segmenting, prospecting, adding to the funnel, or eliciting immediate referrals from anyone.
You could perhaps achieve that, but it might be ‘bad form’. It’s all about making sure when they are asked that you will be the person they mention as being able to solve their problem (and keep a secret).