Internet and word of mouth marketing

Word of mouth marketing

Internet Marketing or Word of Mouth  marketing? It’s Better to Use Both!

There’s been some debate over which is better: online marketing, or word of mouth marketing.

They both have their advantages. Online marketing helps you to reach large numbers of people quickly and educate them about why they need your services, while word of mouth marketing builds trust and connection faster, and is often the quicker path to making a sale.

If you want to attract the maximum number of clients and build your business quickly, you shouldn’t be thinking of internet and word of mouth marketing as an either-or question. They work better together!

To attract more clients, your marketing system needs 4 elements.

When you’re running a small business that does not yet have a large, dedicated client base, it’s especially important to make sure your marketing system has these four components:

  • Networks of people to support your business
  • Referrals from trusted clients and business partners
  • Advertising
  • Public relations

In this blog post, I’ll explain how to use the first of those four elements effectively in today’s mobile-driven world, and to implement them in a quick and cost-effective way, so you can get the biggest benefit with the smallest expense of money and time.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll dive into referrals, advertising and public relations, but for now, let’s get started with online and offline networking.

Why use networking for word of mouth marketing?

As much as some introverts would love to squirrel themselves away behind a computer and run a business without the dreaded task of talking to people, networking is a vital part of your client attraction system – both online and offline.

Networking enables you to build trusting relationships more quickly than you could through advertising, so you can make larger sales faster. It also helps you to develop strong, stable referral partnerships that keep bringing you clients for years to come.

I’m going to give you some strategies for using both methods effectively, starting with online networking.

How to get more clients through online networking:

Online networking isn’t just about scattering information to the wind and hoping it lands on the right person. It requires some thought, knowledge and strategy.

Here are five things you need to do in order to get clients through internet networking:

  1. Know who your target audience is and where they hang out.

If you try to post on ALL the social networks, you’re going to waste a lot of time throwing content into a void.

If you want a good return on your investment of effort, it’s important to know who is the most likely to need and buy your product, and to choose the social networks where those people hang out.

For example, if you serve businesses, you’ll find a higher concentration of potential clients on a business-oriented site like LinkedIn than you will on Facebook.

  1. Don’t just post on your page and wait.

Facebook pages are like websites – there are a lot of them out there, and if you wait for people to randomly stumble upon yours, you’ll probably be waiting for a long time.

Yes, you can help people find you by using hashtags to indicate what your content is about, like #businesstips or #pestcontrol, and I strongly recommend that you do so. But even if you do that, waiting for people to find you is still a slow way to build your audience.

Instead, it’s better to go where your people already are. Join groups that focus on your area of expertise, and comment on popular pages that target your ideal client.

  1. Don’t go straight to selling. 

If all you do is ask for money and offer no valuable content first, people will get annoyed, tune you out, and possibly even mute you, block you, or kick you out of the group.

But if you give useful advice and feedback, people will appreciate your expertise, and you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your field without being pushy or salesy.

That isn’t to say you should NEVER talk about your products – there is a time and a place for that. Just make sure you follow the group’s rules when it comes to promotional content, and try to make at least seven valuable information posts for every promotional post.

  1. Don’t get lost in endless scrolling.

Social media can be an infamously bad time sink, if you let it.

Don’t go onto your home page and start scrolling through other people’s posts until you get sucked into an endless cycle of “just one more post”. At least, not during business time.

Just go in, check your notifications, respond to replies and comments, post or comment on the pages where most of your potential clients hang out, and get out.

  1. Use a social media scheduling system to schedule your posts.

If you want to post new content on a regular basis, but you don’t want that activity to be a daily interruption to your other tasks, I recommend using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your posts in advance.

That way, you don’t have to remember to do it every day, and you can focus on your other activities without having to worry about interrupting them to post on social media.

How to get more clients through offline networking:

Many of the principles that apply to online networking also apply to its in-person counterpart, but some aspects need to be handled differently.

  1. Go where your ideal clients and partners are.

As with online networking, you’ll get your best results by going where your target audience is.

Who are the people who are the most likely to buy from you, and where do they spend time when they aren’t too busy to talk to you?

It does you little good to try to get their attention when they’re in the middle of something else, especially if that something else has a deadline. As Joshua Bell’s subway experiment demonstrates, it’s important to present your offer when people have the time to pay attention to it.

If you serve businesses, this is relatively easy. There are many organizations, like BNI, where business owners congregate specifically for the purpose of networking.

If you serve non-business owners, you may have to get a bit creative. For example, if you’re a fitness coach, then jogging tracks, yoga groups, and wilderness clubs with a focus on hiking are possible places to meet clients.

If you serve mothers, then playgrounds, indoor play structures, and other places where they take their children in their leisure time can be good places to talk with them while they watch their kids.

The important thing is to be in places that have high concentrations of your ideal clients, when those clients are in a position to talk to you.

Having said that, it’s important to remember that groups designed for your ideal client aren’t the only place where you can get leads and make sales. You can network almost anywhere, if you do it with tact and respect.

But you’ll get the best ROI by focusing on places where your ideal clients congregate.

  1. Don’t just go there – interact!

Simply being in a networking group won’t bring you clients. You need to talk to people, learn about them, and let them know what you do and whey they need it.

As with online marketing, it’s important not to go straight to selling in your offline conversations. Start by learning about the other person’s needs, desires and challenges, and finding out what’s important to them.

Once you know if they have the problem you solve and whether it’s a priority for them, you can present your offer in a way that’s tailored to their dreams and difficulties, which will make it a lot more attractive to them.

The fact that you learned about them and built rapport with them will also make you seem more likable, trustworthy and informed.

Nobody likes canned answers or people who are more interested in selling than they are in the person they’re selling to. You’ll get much better results if you make them feel heard and valued, and take the time to learn about their situation before making recommendations.

  1. Use clear, specific calls to action.

If you want people to move forward in your customer journey, and to become your clients and referral partners, don’t leave them guessing about what to do next. Be completely clear and specific.

For example, don’t say “let’s meet for coffee sometime”. Instead, say “I’d love to have coffee with you sometime next week. I suggest we meet at Starbucks for an hour. I’ve got my calendar app here on my phone; do any of these times on Thursday work for you?”

And don’t say “Let’s refer people to each other if we find anyone”. Instead, tell them exactly who your ideal client is and how you help them, and suggest that you talk in a couple weeks to see if any of the people each of you have met would be a good referral for the other.

That way, you stay at the top of their minds, and you give them a reason to keep an eye out for potential referrals.

How to use both strategies together:

Now that you have a better idea of how to use both online and offline networking, it’s time to put the two of them together. When they work together they create a synergistic word of mouth marketing system.

Here are a few ways in which you can combine these two networking methods into a powerful client attraction system:

  1. Use social media to keep in touch with people you met in person.

Some people will take weeks to answer an email, but will answer a Facebook message right away. Others may prioritize their LinkedIn inbox, their Twitter direct messages, or another social network.

When you meet a business contact with whom you really want to stay in touch, find out if they’re particularly active on a specific social media network, and befriend or connect with them there.

  1. Invite real-life contacts to your social media groups.

If you run a social media group, having the voice of an expert in the conversation can make the group even more valuable for your members. It also gives your contacts a chance to meet more potential clients.

So if you meet someone whose area of expertise complements but doesn’t compete with your own, invite them to participate in any groups you run.

  1. Invite your group members to your networking groups.

When you’ve built up a lot of “know, like and trust” with your social media community, you’re in a good position to invite them to the in-person networking groups in which you participate.

  1. Make referrals between your online and offline contacts.

If any of your online friends or followers need the services of a person you met face to face, or a person you met in an offline group needs help from one of your internet contacts, that’s a great opportunity to connect them.

There’s no need to keep your online and offline contacts segregated. Both forms of networking are simply paths to the same destination: making mutually beneficial connections between you and the people who need your help.

Want to attract more clients, and to meet referral partners who can help you grow your business?

If you want to help more people, make more money, and create mutually beneficial relationships with referral partners who can introduce more of your ideal clients to you, we’d love to see you at your local BNI!

In BNI, we focus on helping people to create referral relationships, and to get referrals from those connections instead of saying “I’ll send people your way” and never actually doing it.

Last year, we helped our members make an average of $24,789 in additional income through referrals they got from fellow BNI members, and this year, we want to top that number.

What could you do with an extra twenty-five grand, and how many lives could you improve in the process of making that money?

Let’s team up and find out. If you want to create mutually supportive connections with companies that are in touch with your target audience, that want to make a positive impact on the world, and that are happy to give you referrals, we hope to see you soon at your local BNI.  A positive and supportive attitude is one thing that our members promote to one another – you will not find negative thinking at a BNI chapter meeting.  Check out a meeting – To find a BNI chapter to visit click this link.

Image Credit – Adobe Stock

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  1. […] Last week, I talked about how to use internet marketing and word of mouth marketing together to get more referrals and income from your networking efforts. […]

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