Tag Archives: word-of-mouth

Are You Connected The Right Way?

How well your business is networked or connected can mean the difference between success and even greater … profitability.  A major element in this formula involves your company’s word-of-mouth status.  We all know, or assume correctly, that word-of-mouth is the most effective and least costly method of marketing your business and yourself.  What we tend to forget, though, is that word-of-mouth can also work against us as easily as it can work for the benefit of a business.

When we write about networking, there are many effective techniques that can be used to grow your business.  One of the most prolific authors on the subject is Ivan Misner, Ph.D., the founder of BNI (Business Network International), and his most influential book on networking – in my opinion – is Networking Like A Pro – Turning Contacts Into Connections, co-written with David Alexander and Brian Hilliard.

What this blog is about, though, is how to know which connections you want to make and bring into your business network.  Word-of-mouth is difficult to use for marketing unless people get to know you, your company, and your products and/or services.  Once they know more about you and determine they can trust you and what you offer, your chances for successful word-of-mouth networking are vastly increased.

It starts with self-evaluation.  Who are you?  What is your company or business all about? Why are you in business?  Who do you want to be in business with?  Do they want to, or should they, be in business with you?  Are they going to be good connections for you, or are you more a better connection for them?  Do you share or compete for customers?  Do you understand what each of you is selling and how you can best cooperate?

Armed with answers to these questions, you are better prepared to consider and determine which businesses and/or individual business or non-business individuals you want to be connected with to grow your business.  You must consider the value, or potential value, each connection has for your business to succeed.  Let’s look at some examples.

A chiropractor has a natural connection with a massage therapist.  The chiropractor’s work is easier if the client has seen a massage therapist before the adjustment, and the therapist has an easier time if the client has already been adjusted.  The connection appears obvious, and the success of the relationship depends on how comfortable the two  parties involved are with referring clients to each other.  The twist in the relationship comes from the person in the middle, the client.  If the client already has a chiropractor, the message therapist finds it hard to refer them to their connection.  Their continued success relies on being able to market their services in conjunction with each other while still being able to accept and work with clients referred to them from other massage therapists or chiropractors.

Real estate agents and mortgage brokers/bankers are another logical pair for being connected in business.  The strength of their relationship determines how well each does and how long they work together.  When you think about being connected in the real estate profession, you must also consider the other natural alliances.  A title company, remodeling service, landscaper, plumber, electrician, appraisal service, and other business entities with a stake in the success of a real estate transaction are all potential members of a coalition to benefit the consumer.  The challenge is to find the services who can refer work to you comfortably, and to be able to reciprocate on a frequent enough basis to make the relationship profitable in both directions.

The key to the success of your business networking is to have a clear understanding of which companies, and which individuals, you want to and must be connected with to grow your business.  You could be the world’s foremost brain surgeon, but unless you have physicians referring patients to you, you will be out on the street asking everyone you meet whether or not they need brain surgery … and being connected with a mechanic or a restaurant owner will probably have little impact on your bottom line.

How many sales “professionals” do you know who, when asked, will tell you they have a huge network of more than 500 connections?  When you probe a little deeper, you learn they have a customer base of 10 clients and the other 490+ are friends, family members, and casual acquaintances from hanging out in restaurants.  That’s “thinking” you are connected when you’re really a far cry from having the network you desire.

Take the time to think through how well you’re connected and which connections you lack that you would like to add to your business network.  Your professional business and/or marketing consultant can help you see the trees in the forest.

Instant Gratification – Pros and Cons

If you’re “in to” instant gratification, you’ll need to scan down to get the pros and cons.  If you’re a bit more patient, read the whole piece.

Business owners, especially those with significant advertising budgets, are scratching their heads in frustration over the generations that seem so intent on instant gratification.  How do you reach someone who wants information, answers, and product “NOW”?

We’ll get to the answer, but let’s look at the pros and cons of this instant gratification mindset.  It’s certainly a concept spawned by technology, so any answer has to incorporate a technological aspect.  We live in an age where a person with a smart phone can look up a business online, get a phone number, and call that number right from their phone in a matter of seconds.

During the Christmas holidays, we were away from home and wanted to have dinner at a chain restaurant.  I looked up the chain online, entered the city, and up popped the restaurant’s phone number.  I tapped on it, called it, and learned they were not accepting reservations, which was fine.  I had relatively quickly ascertained what we wanted to know.  Instant gratification.  I had an answer in less time than it would have taken to look up the restaurant in a phone directory.

Two points here:  One is that phone directories have a limited life span due to these advances in technology, and the other is that if you have a service business such as a restaurant, it is critical that your business be smart-phone enabled, especially if you are on your own and operating independently.

Instant gratification pros:

  1. Quicker decisions can be made;
  2. Choices are focused on using the right key words;
  3. Speed is easily rationalized by fast results;
  4. Demonstrated skill in using electronics and technology; and,
  5. Masses of information digested rapidly.

Instant gratification cons:

  1. Quick decisions can often be rash choices;
  2. Wrong use of key words can cause longer delays in searches;
  3. Deliberation of potential consequences is given short shrift;
  4. Loss of important, personal human communication skills; and,
  5. Too much information can trivialize all of it.

Now let’s look at instant gratification from the perspective of business.

While there are still companies that make calculators, they must realize their future is finite.  Smart phones have calculator applications and so do laptops and other computers.  The stand-alone calculator has become a nuisance because it takes up space somewhere and you have to find it to use it when there’s one on your phone.

In order to reach the consumer market dominated by the need and desire for instant gratification, business advertising must have a technological base including a web site that has relevant content.  It should also be smart phone enabled and embrace any new, emerging techology within a reasonable time frame.

Using social media effectively should also be given serious consideration.  Users may search for your social media sites before deciding to use your services.  Keep in mind that Facebook is less about selling your products than it is about showing your business has a social conscience.  LinkedIn is more business oriented but still has social aspects that involve reciprocity.  If a user endorses you, consider returning the endorsement.  With Google’s other search engine, YouTube, being #2 behind Google, put some videos on a YouTube channel, including testimonials and endorsements.  You also need to use Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines optimally.  Klout, Hulu, and a myriad of other social outlets come online regularly, so you need to be aware of social options and determine their viability for your business.

Understand that one of the most relevant methods to reach those infatuated with instant gratification remains to be word-of-mouth marketing.  Flash mobs are a good example of how a message can go viral quickly.  Word-of-mouth can help you reach a global market for your business, provided you’re ready to handle the potential rapid growth.

It comes back to having strategies for reaching your target audience effectively, so if you need help thinking this through and developing strategies, Brand Irons has people and resources to help.