Doesn’t matter how far we’ve come in the digital age, word of mouth is still the cornerstone of any small business. It’s known as, not surprisingly, word of mouth marketing. It’s been adjusted to include today’s online savvy world, of course, although water cooler chats are still as strong as ever.
Think back to the last time you raved about a dish at a new restaurant and posted it on Instagram. What about that new pair of shoes you adore so much you had to tweet about them? And remember that time you had a really cool craft beer at the local brewery and you gave it a shout out on Facebook?
These are all forms of word of mouth marketing, or WOMM for short. In essence, it's an organic way to spread information utilizing components of viral marketing. This free form of advertisement or promotion is shared by customers and triggered by an event a person experiences – an event that goes beyond what's expected, says Social Media Today.
The Organic Warm Network
Recently in my business, I’ve noticed all my clients get 50% or more of the business from their organic warm network, i.e., friends, family, business contacts, prior customers/clients, referral partners, etc. This is what they brought with them when they started the business and then systematically grew through networking and building relationships.
The rest of their leads come from all the “other stuff” like marketing, social media, email, SEO, print media, etc. Sure, these are great processes to implement for business growth, however, face-to-face still counts -- BIG time!
Think about it: if your warm network produces 50% of the leads and you increase that by 10%, that’s now 55% of leads from the warm network. However, do a similar increase of 10% on just one of the “other stuff” areas, say SEO, which may only produce 7% of leads, then you're only getting a 0.7% increase.
Given this example, it's clear the greatest thing you can do for your business is more networking. Sure, marketing is marketing in whatever form but as Polaroid founder Edwin H. Land said “Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.” The point is, it’s not the Holy Grail of business, and as a small business owner you only have one real product, YOU! This means you have to learn to sell yourself. The best way to do that? Work tirelessly to continue building relationships and networking your business.
Why is WOM Marketing Important?
It’s quite simple, really. Consumers trust their friends, which is, in a nutshell, why word of mouth remains the most valuable source of marketing. Nielsen says the most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust, as 83% of online respondents say they trust the recommendations of friends and family the most.
The awesome thing about word of mouth marketing is that it doesn’t just stop with one interaction. One person tells another, and that person tells someone else, then that person continues the chain and spreads the word further, making it an ideal vehicle for distribution and exposure – IF you know how to use it and use it well.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Social Media Basket
A word of warning: I have found that many of my clients have strong warm networks but are choosing to communicate with them only over social media platforms as opposed to face to face interaction. Why? It’s easier, it’s trendy and it doesn’t take up a lot of time. I get it: you’re busy. Who has time to nurture face to face interactions anymore? Well, you may not have much time but you should make the time. Conversing only over social media is misguided because this form of communication is somewhat superficial and can be unsustainable. What is needed is a balance…you need to do both and not neglect either.
How to Strengthen Your Warm Network
Here’s what you can do to strengthen your warm network:
- Got to ad-hoc mixers that happen in your town or city.
- Join a network referral group in your area, like a BNI or a LeTip.
- Get involved with your industry organizations, see what events are being offered and learn how you can get opportunities to mingle.
- Use Meetup to find groups that have business influences or align with your industry.
- Contact old business associates and clients, just to see what’s new.
- Join a country club or city club like the University Club.
Whatever you do, fight the urge to bury yourself so deep in your business that you never come out to see the light of day. Get used to being a social butterfly and not a silent wall flower. Go out, mingle, chat, introduce yourself and your business to strangers, make new friends and build deep, lasting relationships. All these things create opportunity and that’s what every business needs to create and capture.
Need a little push in the right direction? Contact Infix right now for your free 30-minute consultation!