We’re more likely to try a product or service that a friend recommends, rather than choosing on our own, or following the suggestion of a stranger. With so many options out there, we want trust. We want the assurance that we’re not wasting our money. This is what makes word of mouth so powerful, especially when you’re just starting out.
Your first clients may be old friends or acquaintances who want to give you a chance, and if you wow them, they have the potential to bring you a lot more business. Here are three basic principles to help you build and maintain clients through word of mouth referrals:
1. Deliver a Great Product or Service
If you deliver greatness, people will talk. They’ll talk to their friends, they’ll talk to their family, they’ll talk on Facebook and Twitter. They’ll talk to people who may not even be looking for you, but suddenly are curious about what you offer. Work hard to deliver a fabulous product or service, every single time, so people have a reason to talk.
It’s true that sometimes it can be hard to deliver like a rock star. There’s a multitude of factors working against you — internal resistance, lack of sleep, time restraints, etc. That’s where your support system comes in. If you have a solid support system then you, your business, and your clients will benefit. Good structures can include a business coach, an accountability group, a business partner, or a mastermind business group.
What can you do to get support in taking care of yourself so you can deliver a great product or service?
2. Find Connectors and Advocates
Connectors are people who have a large network and love to share resources whenever the opportunity arises: “Oh, your bike needs fixing? Biketopia on Alcatraz Avenue is super handy.” Connect with these people, stay connected, and watch the magic happen. If they like you and know you’re seeking new clients, they’re more likely to throw business your way.
Advocates are people who LOVE your product or service. They’ve personally benefited from your work and want to tell the whole world about you. Treat your advocates like gold. They are, after all, tooting your horn for free. So send a bottle of champagne on their birthday and a thank you card for each referral they give you.
To review –
Connectors are good for cross-pollination and widening your network.
Advocates are good for spreading the word about YOU.
3. Seal the Project with Solidity and Style
The project has been completed, the sale has been made — the final goal has been reached. This is the time when you are freshest in your clients’ minds and they are most likely to speak about how awesome you are.
To reinforce the feeling of a solid close to a project:
1) Inform the client that the project is wrapped up and complete
2) List every completed component of the project. Remind them what they wanted to accomplish with this project, and how your work accomplished this for them.
3) Thank them for working with you and request that if they are pleased, you’d love it if they put a good word in for you, either on Yelp or out to their immediate community.
4) Point out any additional work you see that the client might want done without being pushy or sales-y. You are often in the best position to notice such things.
5) And finally, it can’t hurt to woo your client with one last token of thanks — say, a bar of artisanal chocolate or a handwritten card. Make them feel seen and appreciated for their business, and they’ll be more likely to recommend you and return.
Leave your client with a clear sense of completion and of being well served. This good feeling will, in turn, give your client cause to talk about you and send more clients your way.