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In the A-Z of Marketing, W is for Word of Mouth

When I started writing this A-Z of Marketing, it all started with the ABC – the three best marketing activities that you can use to promote your service business. A was for Asking for Referrals – also known as Word of Mouth marketing. So as we get to the end of the alphabet, is it OK to repeat myself? Yes it is, because asking for referrals/word of mouth is still one of the most effective marketing tools that you should use if you’re a coach, consultant or trainer. It’s one of three marketing activities that will bring you the type of clients that you really want to work with, who will pay you what you want to charge.

Recently a potential client contacted me to ask if I could help her to promote her business. She told me that the marketing she was doing wasn’t working and she didn’t know why. “I’ve been putting fliers into my local post offices,” she told me “It’s not expensive – just a few pounds for each of the 20 post offices I visit.” She also said that she was about to put together another newspaper advert – the last one hadn’t brought her any new clients, so she thought that she would change the copy slightly to see if that made a difference.

I could see straight away why her marketing wasn’t working. The problem, or challenge, with promoting a service is that there is nothing for anyone one to see. You can’t put a picture of your service or the results you can generate into an advert or a flier. You can’t show a potential client what you service looks like or what the benefits will do for them. When you provide a service, such as coaching, consulting or training, you have to explain what makes your service different from those of your competitors; you need to demonstrate the results that you can help your clients to achieve. One of the best ways of doing this is by asking happy clients to talk about what you do and to sing your praises. The people who have experienced your service can show other people what you can’t show in a printed flier or advert.

Asking for referrals and word of mouth marketing is about asking your clients to tell other people how great you are at your job. When a client thanks you for helping them, this is the time to say “You’re welcome” and then ask “Who else do you know who needs the same help?” Asking for a referral from a happy client who has just thanked you is the easiest way to get over the very British fear of not wanting to ask for help, or feeling that you might be pestering your client. The next time a client say ‘thank you’ try it and see what happens!

Word of mouth marketing also works so well for service businesses because when someone is looking to buy a service like yours, they will want to know that what you can do for them will really work. You could write about the results that you can achieve in a flier and on your website, but why should anyone believe that? Your potential clients are much more likely to ask for a recommendation from someone they know any trust. When I started to look for a new accountant, I asked my contacts for recommendations. If you’re looking for a new trainer, you might go online first to find one in your area, but then you’ll probably look at the reviews on their website and/or LinkedIn and Facebook pages. They will watch the video testimonials that your clients have recorded for you (you do have client testimonials online, don’t you?!) Then, when they’re impressed with what other people say, they will pick up the phone and call you.

How are you using word of mouth marketing effectively? At Appletree, nearly half our new business comes from word of mouth marketing. (Even the potential client I wrote about above was referred to us by a client.) If less than half of your new business is generated by recommendations or word of mouth marketing and you would like to change that, call me now on 01635 578 500 or click here to email me and we can arrange a time to talk.

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