Why do I need training in word of mouth marketing?

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While its accepted WoM is probably the most effective way to promote yourself, I am often asked “why do I need training in word of mouth marketing?” In case you aren’t sure 80% of recommendations happen in the real world, verbally, not on line! And who would you trust a friend or an Ad?  It seems most of us think WoM just happens when we talk to people.

Interestingly it’s not like that and lots of evidence that it’s a process. There are a few issues around this. One is about asking for a recommendation, another is actually knowing what you want people to say about you and then how do you really work out who your Advocates and Champions are? Guess what, not everyone is interested enough to pass on your message and some would do more than you expect.

Let me talk about the “British disease” It’s frightening how many people are uncomfortable in asking customers to recommend them. Yet if you know that customer likes your product, buys it frequently, it does good things for them, then why wouldn’t they be happy to tell others. In fact why aren’t we asking them to give us a few names we can contact with their support? This is a real self limiting belief many of us need to overcome and learn how to manage. How much easier is it to get 100 customers to recommend just 2 potential new customers than the time and cost of on line and other campaigns?

I recently met with a super successful lady in finance with over 300 clients, around 100 close ones and she is really uncomfortable asking them to recommend because she doesn’t like being asked. We discussed this limitation, and agreed if the 100 each gave 2 recommendations and 50% of them were won [she wins over 90%of people she meets with] what a difference to her business!! And it’s not hard to do.

Then let’s start thinking about asking existing customers to help us grow.

The next thought is; what do we want them to say about us? Far too many people think if customers are happy with our services they will just tell people. However what will they say? The thing is if you don’t position yourself others will position you and that might be a clever competitor.

At another recent meeting I discussed this with a very successful Marketing expert and in the discussion around value and his special offers he inadvertently used the word “cheap “. I asked him “so would some of your clients say you were cheap” he was horrified at the thought; great value was closer to his reality, however he didn’t know.  Being described as expensive could be just as damaging [sorry Stella]

So often we don’t manage this critical communication. Customers have different experiences and this is usually what they share with others, which is great if you understand it and it works for your business. Do you have a recommendation you would use with all your clients? Do you say the same thing every time? And do you know if it works? Did you seriously sit down and work out what that communication is? Some call it the “elevator pitch” and sales people practice this, yet it’s a bit more than that, it’s around positioning and many business owners I meet don’t spend enough time on this. I recently came across a great simple and fast test that tells you what 100 people think of your referral for persuasiveness and “share-ability” and they tell you what the trick is in structuring that referral statement, it really was an eye opener, look at www.womtwo.com  

Ok if you are with me you will be seeing the value of first asking customers for referrals and then making sure you know what they are saying about you. This is all very well as long as you target the right customers. I believe this is the part where too many people don’t realise there is a process and methodology to this and it’s not something you can just guess. People are surprised at the skills required to learn how to define the key customer types and to know why Champions differ from Advocates [really important] and the different approaches to low volume high intimacy customers and high volume low intimacy customers and a range of other options. Without some serious thought and research into managing your customer base you are probably getting it wrong.

Therefore yes you do need training to really make WoM the most powerful marketing and sales tool you have. I would go further and suggest as an organisation you need to learn how to use WoM to really engage and involve your staff and customers, to help develop great products and customer service that create a following that becomes the most powerful sales team you could want. With training you can keep this core skill in house.

Go and tell someone……and this time I’ll let you decide what to say, or contact me?

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About the author

Graham Wilson

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My working life has always involved working closely with people and delivering results. For nearly 30 years I have run behaviour programmes and been involved with many other methods of working with and analysing personality, performance and behaviour. Having enjoyed significant business success I believe that if we first build the people the people will build the business. Which in no way reduces the focus on clear business strategy and purpose. As a result I've already helped 11 people become Millionaires. 

So what do I do?... I inspire transformation

 A brief history 

35 years in healthcare Services. Pharma, Med devices, Med Tech and the Care sector Key player in building the worlds biggest Pharma services business Innovex/Quintiles, driving consistent growth from 30- 60% per annum. From the UK to the USA and Europe

Chaired 6 businesses and been on 11 Boards from £300m to start up. Raised funds and driven successful exits. 

Qualified as a Coach with Shirlaws the leading Global Coaching business. Still running and developing behaviour programmes. A Qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist. 

I own and run a Care business and am also a Non Exec Director of 2 companies involved in leading edge marketing support, such as Word of Mouth marketing I Coach a wide range of clients in multiple sectors. Understand the numbers, believe its strategy and people that make it all work. Have a look at my profile for full details and links


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