Building Your Business Through Word of Mouth

by / ⠀Finding Customers Startup Advice / January 4, 2012

Word of Mouth (WOM) and Buzz Marketing are two of the most sought after outcomes for anyone trying to gain exposure for their product or service.  Over the years I have built an extensive WOM chain for my boating business, which has led me to gain roughly 95% of my new business each year through positive word of mouth alone.  WOM and Buzz Marketing can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how your react to customers requests and situations.  Below you will find some tips I have found to be helpful in building my WOM chain.

1. Join The Community

In a day and age where there are countless online forums for everything under the sun, there is bound to be one for your product or service.  So don’t be afraid to get involved and interact with them.  These communities are great places to show a large number of people who already have an interest in your field that you’re an expert in the subject matter.  I interact regularly on the largest boating forums in the country and build relationships on them with people from all over.  For example, I will comment on posts regarding issues with aesthetics or questions on how to prepare your boat when getting ready to sell it.  Those topics are where my expertise lies and I can give quality advice.  Also, when providing comments make sure the content is meaningful this way you are regarded as an expert and having valid opinions otherwise your plan to build WOM may backfire.

Through these forums I have gained a lot of clientele.  Customers have called me up saying they saw me on forum X and would like to give me a try.  I then walk them through my process and what they can expect of me and what I need from them and if at the end of the day I meet or exceed their expectations this will prove to be highly beneficial for me.  In response these individuals have given me positive write ups on the forums stating what a pleasure it was to have my team work on their boats and the calls begin to pour in from people in the area.

2. Interact With Your Customer

This is another key proponent to my WOM success.  By being friendly and building relationships with your customer, makes a world of difference when it comes to securing recurring business and getting them to tell their friends about you.  Chances are if they are a boater they will have friends who boat and they will be sure to tell their friends about you and your company in conversation.  I start off simple with questions like, “so how do you like your boat” or “where do you do most of your boating?”  From there we expand into different subject matters and I really begin to build a rapport with them, solidifying my services for their future needs.

Its here that I also tell them about some of my other services incase they ever need them.  Also my customers see through my interaction with them my passion for boats and realize their toys are in good hands and that’s what they’re going to remember at the end of the day.  This way when it comes up organically in conversation, who cleaned your boat, they tell their friends about my company and the care that went into maintaining it and guess what a few days later I get a call and another job without having to lift a finger.

3. Offer Unparalleled Customer Service

Customer service is a big deal today, especially in a society filled with intense competition.  Great customer service can be the difference between success and failure for a new company.  The detailing and broker game on Long Island is saturated with comparable companies and I have used unparalleled customer service to my advantage.  If I get an inquiry through email, I make it a point to get back to the individual as soon as I see the email.  This can be the difference between getting a new client and not, because sometimes people just work down a list of detailers and the one who responds the fastest will most likely get the job.

It’s not only about initial customer service but also maintaining it with your regular customers.  This can be done in one of two ways.  For example, the boats I deal with are relatively large (34’ and up), they have a lot of nooks and crannies so sometimes something gets missed.  That’s why I do a walk through of the boat with the client after every job to make sure everything was done to their liking or come back to touch something up if it was missed after I leave.  Another way I maintain superior customer service is by giving my regular customers quick response time, if they call up last minute and say, “hey, can you get to the boat and clean it up for us, we decided were going to spend the weekend on it” I make sure to get to the boat on Friday before they arrive after work and that the boat is washed and opened up ready for their arrival Friday afternoon.

Customers remember these little things such as, quick response times to inquiries or bending over backwards to ensure they are happy with your work or making it a point to get to your regular customers quickly.  When they remember those traits they tell their friends and this will lead to positive WOM for your company and hopefully a sale.

Just remember today’s business environment is filled with intense competition, no matter what field you are in whether it be technology, food or even boats, what factors will get people talking about yours over the competitions.  These three elements are a great starting point to generate positive buzz for your company and build your WOM chain.

Austin is currently the CEO & Co-Founder of The AFG Group a new age marketing and branding firm with a financial twist, owner of L&I Detailing and obtaining his MBA in finance from Hofstra University. 

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