Ask any professional business-services firm how they get their business and nearly all will tell you “word of mouth.” It is far better than advertising or any other traditional method of business development.
While WOM is great and speaks volumes about your service and quality, you must work at it for it to become a successful business-development strategy. Staring at the phone and waiting for it to ring is far too passive for the most ambitious business people.
WOM is always the best way to get a new client because referral prospects have likely already had a conversation about you with an impartial third party, and have mostly made up their mind to work with you -- regardless of your price. You have earned the opportunity because you are seen as an expert in your field. The person that uttered your name has confidence in your abilities and feels comfortable to put their reputation on the line by recommending you.
If you reverse engineer the WOM-referral process, you can learn how you were able to get someone to notice your good work and bring it up in conversation so that the magic happens.
So how do we multiply this effort and get that phone to ring?
1. Eliminate the credibility gap.
The reason an inquiry is made in the first place is because a prospect is trying to avoid the pain that comes along with working with the wrong service provider. They are trying to avoid anxiety.
The reason they have not hired any given provider out of the phone book is because of the “credibility gap” that exists. Close that gap by eliminating the unknown and you will get the business.
2. Lead through education.
The most successful brands in the world have adopted this strategy and it's incredibly simplistic. Millions of Internet searches are done every day. These people are looking for information. The best marketers understand this and simply give them what they want.
Everyone wants to work with an expert, so why can’t that be you? Concentrate on creating content that answers questions that are frequently asked. Demonstrate your knowledge and be the subject matter expert they are seeking. This earns their respect, answers their beginning questions and starts to bridge the credibility gap.
3. Get serious.
Try creating your own campaign that closes the credibility gap. Write a white paper each month, do a webinar or even host a live event that puts your skills on showcase. Don’t have the time? Outsource it!
Professional freelancers make a living by ghostwriting columns or producing events for their clients. Over time you will have a body of work that will be passed around that positions you as a thought leader.
Leading with this content strategy has proven to be one of the most effective ways to earn your next new client. This isn’t changing how those valuable WOM clients come to you, it simply increases the frequency and puts a strategy behind the phone ringing.