Like many freelance copywriters, a large portion of my business comes via personal referrals from people I’ve previously worked for – sometimes several years ago.
Not surprisingly, word of mouth is considered to be the most effective marketing tool, because it’s persuasive, credible and free.
A win-win for all involved
Being approached directly by new clients with the offer of some work saves me from having to spend time and/or money on promoting my services. Based on my prior knowledge of the referrer, I can also be fairly confident that these will be the sort of companies I want to work for. But if, as has happened occasionally, the person who made the recommendation was a ‘difficult’ client, I reserve the right to make myself ‘unavailable’ for this potential new client.
The client, in turn, saves time and effort on searching for a copywriter who fits the bill; instead, they’re effectively handed one on a plate by someone whose opinion they trust. They can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they’ll be dealing with a freelancer who comes pre-tested and approved: someone who’s reliable, professional, easy to work with and who’ll meet the brief.
Compelling quotes about the effectiveness of word of mouth
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” ~ Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” ~ Jeff Bezos, Amazon
“Do what you do so well, that people can’t resist telling others about you.” ~ Walt Disney
“A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself.” ~ David J. Greer
“Word-of-mouth marketing has always been important. Today it’s more powerful than ever because of the power of the Internet.” ~ Jo Pulizzi & Newt Barrett
“Word of mouth is the best medium of all.” ~ William Bernbach
“Satisfied customers who will spread word of mouth are the most powerful assets you have.” ~ Andy Sernovit
“Word of mouth travels faster than anything else.” ~ Cam Newton
Cultivating word of mouth
Of course, the intrinsic value of word-of-mouth marketing is the fact that it can’t be bought but has to be earned. The best way to get future referrals from clients is simply to do a damned good job for them in the first place. If you provide them with a great service, they’re far more likely to be willing to stick their reputation on the line by recommending you to a friend or colleague later on.
It’s also a good idea to keep in contact with former clients via LinkedIn; this is a really easy way to track people as they move from one company or agency to another. Dropping them a quick note to congratulate them on their new job takes just a few minutes but can pay dividends as it puts your name back in front of them.
The potential for word-of-mouth marketing is cumulative – the longer you’ve been freelancing, the more clients you’ll have worked for. And each one of them may put some new business your way at some point down the line.
In conclusion, word of mouth can be a slow burn, but it’s nearly always worth the wait.
Do you get a lot of your business through word-of-mouth referrals? Have you passed on recommendations to others? Any interesting stories to share?