With so many marketing options available today, it is hard to accurately tell which option would work best for your professional services firm. But there is one marketing method that has proven to be very effective for almost all businesses and industries for centuries now: Word of mouth marketing. If businesses manage to generate word of mouth marketing, they can be assured to reach more customers.
This kind of marketing occurs when clients’ interests and satisfaction with a brand comes up organically in their conversations with other people. Whichever professional services you offer – real estate, legal, dentistry, or financial consultancy, you can never get it wrong with word of mouth marketing. Companies such as Wendy’s, Zappos, and Tinder have benefited from this approach. But then the question arises: Is it possible for professional firms to influence what clients talk about in their social circles? Is it possible to generate word of mouth marketing?
The short answer is yes – you can! But that is only possible if you execute the following tips to perfection:
1. Ask for referrals
Satisfied clients will refer their friends to your firm even without you asking. So, the fundamental step towards generating client referrals is to always outdo yourself, not just your competitors, in every assignment you undertake. Just to be sure though, it is advisable that you request satisfied clients to recommend your firm to their family and friends. After winning a tough lawsuit or after closing an impossible real estate deal, for example, you can ask the client to spread the word of your excellence. If they decide to celebrate the win and they are kind enough to invite you to the party, don’t decline their invitation. Use that opportunity to network.
Another idea is to never close communication lines with former clients too fast – don’t leave any room for them to forget about your firm. Make a habit of checking up on them via email or phone. It would be nice to reach out even to foreign clients that don’t speak your language. This might take time from all the other workloads of the company, however, you can partner with translation services who can cover this part for you. Qualified translators will keep in touch with your clients, by reminding them of how grateful you are that they chose to work with you and offer unsolicited advice on new developments that could have arisen in your industry since the last time you worked together.
Bonus referral tips:
- Reward clients with simple gifts such as personalized Thank You cards or discounts for each referral they make. Make them feel seen and appreciated.
- Be very specific when asking for referrals. Don’t play games, don’t mince your words!
- A paying client doesn’t owe you any referrals. Be courteous and kind when reaching out to them.
2. Trigger your clients’ emotions
Word of mouth marketing is founded primarily on the fact that people love to talk about their experiences and feelings. Trigger people’s positive emotions and they will feel obligated to talk about your services. A study conducted by Keller Fay Group has it that firms that trigger customer emotions are likely to get three times more word of mouth marketing compared to those that don’t.
How can you whip clients’ emotions?
- Get as personal with clients as they can allow you to be. If you are a doctor, for example, don’t just diagnose patients. Make them feel supported emotionally every time they come to your office.
- Developing a relationship with them. Take a genuine interest in their families and financial welfare. If you are a realtor, give them housing tips that they didn’t even know existed. Talk to them about schools, hospitals, and other little details that would help them get the best house for not only their budget but also their social, political, and religious preferences.
- Humanize your practice. Don’t be a stone-cold lawyer who cares more about winning a case than getting justice for the weak and vulnerable. Always sympathize with your clients’ predicaments and safeguard their mental health even as much as you chase the most favorable end result.
- Be generous. If someone comes to your office without a car, offer to take them home if you have the time. When you meet at a restaurant, take the bill before the client does.
- Assist the less privileged in society. For example, if you are a lawyer, you could take more pro bono cases, especially highly emotive cases. Think of cases of police brutality in the US today- defending a victim of police brutality will get a whole city, if not the whole country, talking about you.
- Portray yourself as a selfless and honest professional who is more interested in doing the job than getting paid.
3. Leverage social media
Word of mouth marketing happens both online (when people talk about a brand on social media) and offline (mostly with family and close friends). Most words of mouth marketers forget about the online audience. Appeal to this audience by:
- Having active social media pages and inviting your former clients to follow and comment on your marketing messages.
- Promote your pages through paid ads to make them visible to as many targets as possible.
- Invest in good SEO and social media marketing and then link your website with all your social media pages. That way, it is easier for clients who find you on Google to find you on social media and vice versa. As for such digital marketing services, you can choose to outsource to an SEO expert to help you leverage SEO to the fullest.
- Share with your followers interesting and shareable visual content, e.g. pictures and videos. You can, for example, share hilarious testimonial videos on your Instagram page to stir reactions from Instagram users.
- Request clients to take photos with you and to comment on positive and truthful reviews when you post those photos on your timeline.
- Hire social media influencers to hype your brand. These include TV personalities, musicians, comedians, and other public figures who appeal to your target audience.
- Encourage user-generated content by asking satisfied clients to tag you in posts that relate to your line of work. For example, a family you helped buy a house can post a family photo on Christmas and tag you, thanking your firm for helping them share Christmas love in a lovely home.
Note: When your brand trends on social media for a good reason, you come out as an authority figure in your industry. Such a reputation is instrumental in all forms of marketing, not just word of mouth.
Everything boils down to engaging clients positively, delivering optimal services, and appealing to people’s emotions. None of that is easy, but every effort you input will be worth it in the end. Word of mouth marketing will have you breaking down customer resistance faster than any other marketing method. Put in the work to generate word of mouth marketing!