Traditional, and costly, advertising methods still don’t hold a candle to the effectiveness of ‘word of mouth’ referrals. Even with the Yellow Pages, Google and TV commercials to help consumers make decisions about who to call to roof our house, fix our car, file our taxes or provide business services; word of mouth remains a highly effective method to find a quality service provider.
According to Wikipedia, “Word-of-mouth marketing, which encompasses a variety of subcategories, including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, cause influencers and social media marketing… can be highly valued by product marketers. Because of the personal nature of the communications between individuals, it is believed that product information communicated in this way has an added layer of credibility. Research points to individuals being more inclined to believe WOMM than more formal forms of promotion methods; the receiver of word-of-mouth referrals tends to believe that the communicator is speaking honestly and is unlikely to have an ulterior motive (i.e. they are not receiving an incentive for their referrals).”
Just this past week, our neighbours had their seasonal yard work done and being new to the neighbourhood I went to them first for a recommendation for our own yard. There is a certain comfort level in the recommendation from a satisfied customer. New roofs are also going up every other week as our homes and their cedar shake roofs near the 20 year mark. I could go with the company with the fanciest advertising brochure or the one whose ads appear most frequently on TV, but why wouldn’t I act on recommendations of happy customers?
The same stands true with business services. Ten years ago, when I started my company, I decided that I wouldn’t just be in the business of providing virtual business support and consulting services; I wanted to be in the ‘relationship’ business. Potential clients should have a reasonable level of comfort and trust in us in order to allow access to their business in order to make virtual workforce integration recommendations. For our virtual business support clients, they need to trust that our team will provide quality, value-added services when working from remote locations. A trusted recommendation or referral often provides that level of comfort and trust.
Happy clients generally like to tell the story of their success. If their success is connected to valuable services provided by you, then you become part of their success story. Client testimonials are an effective way to tell your story from an unbiased perspective. Most of us have spent many hours, and sometimes many dollars, to carefully craft our stories through our web sites, marketing materials and the social media. But, the impact of an inspiring, enthusiastic and quality testimonial telling your story through the mouth of a satisfied client can outweigh the most carefully crafted marketing copy.
How have client or customer service testimonials and word of mouth marketing helped build your business? Please share your story.