Friday, December 17, 2010

3 Steps to Positive Word of Mouth

Here are few questions to think about as I lead into the topic for this issue of  this post:

  1. When your clients talk about you to others, what are they saying? Do you have any idea?
  2. Do your clients talk about you in glowing terms, neutral terms, or worse? (Hopefully glowing!)
  3. If they were asked to describe what you do or the types of people you serve the best, would they have an articulate answer?
  4. What about your Centers of Influence? Are they talking about you in a way that gets people excited about hearing from you?
  5. What does your word of mouth look like and can you have any control over it?
If you're uncertain what your word of mouth looks like, you're not alone. This is not a concept most people pay attention to. However, it is very important to your future success.
One of the reasons why you may not be receiving the quantity and quality of referrals you would like is because your clients don't really know how to talk about the work you do - and many also don't fully understand who your practice is geared towards these days.
Your chances of getting more and better referrals is greatly increased when you're clients know how to spread the good word about you. Here is a 3-step process to help you generate positive word of mouth and generate tons of new clients.

STEP #1 - Ask Your Clients What They Are Saying About You

For the next 2-3 months, every time you're sitting with a client (for whatever reason), say something like this, "George, my team and I are in the process of formulating some new marketing strategies. One aspect of this work is how we talk about the work we do, what we do, how we do it, who we do it for, what makes us different, etc. You can be a huge help to us. If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you four questions. I'm very curious about your answers. Okay?"
Of course, your words may be different, but you get the idea. Assuming they give you permission to proceed (which 99% of your clients will), here's the next part of this conversation:
"If you were talking about a friend, family member, or colleague about us and the work we do, how would you answer these questions?"
  1. "What do we do for our clients?"
  2. "How do we do this for our clients?"
  3. "Who do we do it for?"
  4. "What makes us different?"
Be prepared for a wide range of answers. Some of your clients will have no clue how to answer these questions. This will be a great wake-up call for you. And, some of your clients will surprise you with some very articulate answers and great verbiage you can use later.
Thank each client for candid answers and, in most cases, their kind words. After you do this for 2-3 months, move on to Step #2. (And yes, you can do this over the phone too - as long as your client has the time.)

STEP #2 - Formulate Your Desired Word of Mouth
  1. Sort through all the various responses you received from your clients. Capture the good stuff.
  2. Formulate your own responses to these questions. Read them out loud. Tighten them up until you have very clear and succinct answers.
  3. Get feedback from your staff, team members, and/or colleagues. Refine your answers.
  4. Get feedback from others in your life - friends, family, and a few select clients.
STEP #3 - Communicate it to Your Clients

Now that you have clear and succinct answers, let all your clients (or at least your 'A' clients) know your answers. Teach your clients how to describe your business. You can do this verbally over the phone or in person. You can also communicate this process to your clients in a letter.
You can say something like, "Over the past several months, many of you know that my team has been working on some marketing strategies. We asked some of our clients to help us think about how we describe our business to others.
"I'm taking the time to tell you about this because there may come time when you identify others whom you think should know about the important work we do. And when those times occur, we want you to be able to describe our value with clarity and confidence."
Then you tell them, or show them, the final answers to these four questions. I put final in italics because this is an evolutionary process. As your business changes, so will the way you (and your clients) talk about it.

It's a good idea to bring your Centers of Influence in on this process. They, too, need to know how to talk about you in a clear, succinct, and confident manner.






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