Forget about marketing automation, chatbots, the buyer journey, influencers, lead magnets, native advertising and algorithms.
Word-of-mouth is, always has been, and always will be the most powerful form of marketing.
That’s why it’s vital that you maintain and nurture your network. And we’re not talking about the hundreds or even thousands of mostly loose ‘connections’ you have on LinkedIn. We’re talking about the people who have first-hand experience working with you.
Your current and former colleagues.
Your current and former clients.
Your current and former business associates.
If you’re good (or great) at what you do, and how you do it, your network will advocate for you. Your contacts will play professional matchmaker. They’ll go out of their way to help you to succeed.
Word-of-mouth is not only the strongest form of marketing, it’s also the most efficient. Such is the strength of word-of-mouth, that you can bypass the lead generation and nurturing stages altogether.
We know this because last week we secured a new client – a global tech company – via a referral. We didn’t submit a proposal. We weren’t asked to pitch to a panel. We weren’t even subjected to a prolonged contract negotiation. Just two phone calls and two emails over the course of two days.
Perhaps it was karma because we also recently played matchmaker between a consulting startup and another communications agency.
Here’s what you need to know: with word-of-mouth, there are two provisions:
- You should only ever refer work to, or recommend, people you genuinely rate and respect. If you don’t know someone who fits a brief, or you can’t directly vouch for someone, you shouldn’t recommend anyone. Doing so could damage your own reputation.
- Always be true to your brand and business. It’s tempting to say yes to everything. Don’t. If a client or opportunity is referred to you but it’s not the right fit for your business or expertise, acknowledge that and then, if you can, refer the work to someone who is a better match.