In the course of business, I have engaged many SMEs and whenever I ask how they market their businesses, “word of mouth” always come up as the primary form of marketing they depend on.
Without any doubt, “Word of Mouth” marketing is a very powerful way of getting new customers and building your business. However, it’s extremely slow and unreliable. Even if you do everything right, it can take many years to decades, to build a successful business on the back of word of mouth alone.
Relying solely on “word of mouth” is an extremely dangerous path to be on. It puts you in the hands of others, everyday hoping that they will remember you often enough to regularly send new business your way.
If you are relying solely on “word of mouth”, its time you built a much more robust marketing system.
How can you build a robust marketing system?
i) Making “Word of Mouth” more reliable
You should amplify the power of “Word of Mouth”and increase it’s reliability where possible; and one of the best ways to do this is by straight out asking for referrals from customers for whom you’ve delivered a good results. Most of the time, most business owners blindly hope for referrals without asking for them.
Look at this example by Zuku, which was running in early 2018.
As an active Zuku customer, I would automatically get 10% OFF on my next bill. That may be a good motivation, enough to get them a couple of referrals.
ii) Creating multiple sources of new customers
Relying on the goodwill of others may not be sustainable in the long run; and that’s why you need to create multiple sources of new leads or customers.
It’s advisable to have at least five different sources of new leads and new customers; most of which should paid media – that is, they cost you money to market yourself.
Why Paid media?
Paid media forces you to focus on return on investment (ROI). If a paid marketing method is not working, you cut it. You don’t waste further time or money on it. Whereas when the marketing method is nominally free, such as with word of mouth, we tend to be less ruthless and often end up wasting huge amounts of time because we didn’t have to pay anything upfront.
Secondly, paid media is very reliable. If you pay for ads on Google, the ad will actually be run – making it much more reliable to consistently generate leads and customers.
There are very many offline and online paid media options you can choose and add to your marketing toolbox, and here are some of the more effective ones:
Paid Search Ads
These are those ads that appear when you search for something on Google or other search engines. They put your business in the right place at the right time; when a prospect is searching for your products or services.
They have specialized targeting options for keywords, demographics, and re-marketing, which you can use to encourage customers to notice your brand, consider your offerings, and take action.
Paid Social Media Ads
In order to maximize your visibility on social media platforms, paid social media is a must these days. Social Media ads often leads to increased exposure and website traffic.
By strengthening your “Word of Mouth” marketing and putting in place more marketing channels, you can be sure that your business will consistently get new leads and customers.
On it’s own, “Word of Mouth” marketing is not enough!