Your clients are referring you ‘ but can new clients easily find you?

July 1, 2010

Last Thursday night, I was outside my house watching my lighting contractor and his crew fine tune some exterior lights going in a few live oak trees. They have been great to work with and I really appreciated their attention to detail. At the end of the process, Jim, the owner, and I were talking and I expressed how taken I was by the effect just a few lights had on our landscape. He thanked me and said, “you know, that is what gets me most of my business, people who appreciate the work, see their yard in a whole new way, and tell somebody else. Word of Mouth.”

Now, as a marketing guy, I had an immediate internal flinch. “Word of Mouth,” “referral business,” these are the phrases someone says when they don’t want to talk to marketing and sales folks.

But I soon realized Jim was talking to me as a customer, not as a hawker of Web marketing services. I didn’t think about it again until the next day when I tested a Market Hardware theory.

I typed in his company name on Google and got this as the top result.

So, if I had referred someone to this contractor, here is what they would read first ‘ Jim the owner doesn’t belong in society interacting with people. And it gets worse. The company’s website doesn’t appear in the first page of search results.

That being said, I do believe Jim’s company gets Word of Mouth business. But how much business does he lose because today’s potential customer hears good things about him and then goes online only to find negative information front and center and no obvious path to the company’s website and contact info?

Now, many business owners tell us one of their most successful marketing methods is “Word of Mouth” referrals. We believe you. The stats don’t lie ‘ according to Nielsen Company, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. Combine that statistic with this: according to the Kelsey Group, an internet research leader, 97% of consumers use the web to research services in their local area. And the bottom line is this: Word of mouth plus accurate web info translates into the most calls possible ‘ and the most business ‘ for your company.

A single happy customer can steer six new ones your way. However, you’ll only get all six to call you if prospective clients can go online and find the necessary information they need to contact you with minimum distractions (like the negative review above or competitor’s advertisements).

When Neighbor “A” hears from a Neighbor “B” that Griffin Davis Air Conditioning did a great job, Neighbor “A” is most likely to go on the Web (rather than the “yellowed pages” (that’s my new term of endearment for the old-fashioned print directory) to find your phone number and maybe learn a little bit more about your business. Word of Mouth and the Internet must work together if you want to see referrals turn into the most possible number of leads.

“Word of Mouth Search Engine Marketing” is a variant on traditional paid search advertising, but it’s designed to only bid on variations of your own business name. The purpose of Word of Mouth SEM is to ensure that people who are referred to you and then search for you online will be directed to your website and not your competitor’s.

Your website marketing firm should be able to provide such a service very inexpensively. A fair estimate is $3-7 per day. That’s a fantastic value to ensure your word of mouth referrals ‘ the prospects most likely to hire you ‘ can easily find your phone number. Yes, as always, you can call us for WOM SEM. We would like to help, but if you already have a trusted firm or you love pulling the PPC strings yourself, go for it.

Power Stat: 

According to Inc. 500 magazine, 70% of marketers are planning a Word of Mouth program next year – #1 growing marketing vehicle.


“Word of mouth and evangelism are gifts that customers give you, but you must first earn them, for money doesn’t buy goodwill.”

Ben McConnell, author of Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force

Griff’s Last Stand 

Two quick things. 1) Word of Mouth prospects already prefer you. They see you as qualified. But they have choices before they select you. Make the last step of calling you easier by making your Word of Mouth exposure on the Web work better.

2) If marketing bucks are tight, at least do this: claim your local business listing on Google, Yahoo!, Bing and CitySearch.  In the description field on those listings, including one or two of the most common variations of your biz name or the most common misspellings.  This doesn’t work as well as WOM SEM, but it’s a smart step and is far better than reading this and then doing nothing!

Call us at 888-381-6925 or email me at [email protected]. We want to help.

See you on the Web!


This article was written by Market Hardware’s Griffin Davis. Reach Griffin at [email protected] or reach anyone on his web expert team at (888) 381-6925.

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