I can only answer this from my experience as CEO of a small company. But word-of-mouth is so important to a company’s success, especially a small company, that it should be the core of your business.
Why? It creates a sustainable business model. Every business seeks to be self-sustaining. And a strategy built around generating word-of-mouth is a sustainable strategy.
It levels the playing field for small business.
Increasingly, small business competes against brands whose marketing budgets exceed that of the small business’ total revenue.
The only cost-effective means to compete against that is through the authentic messages generated by customers and employees inspired by the connections they experience with a company whose made word-of-mouth central to their business.
When you commit to a word-of-mouth strategy, you commit to generating a visceral, emotional, physiological, borderline irrational buy-in from your customers and your employees for your brand.
Buy-in, some call it engagement, from your employees means more passion and focus from them. That means greater productivity and efficiency and more solutions, more innovations, more ideas from s small company’s brand managers (all of your employees). Buy-in from your customers means more buy-ing. They trust your brand. They’ll buy more of your brand.
The results are quantifiable and immediate. And they start with the most important metric for a small business: cash-flow.
Cash is king. Cash is your reward. Positive cash-flows empower you, your colleagues and your customers to own your brand and drive it so it reflects your passion.
And here’s how cash-flows grow with word-of-mouth as your core strategy:
1. Reduced Advertising Expenses. You’ll save a lot of money when you make your customers and employees your advertising agency. Your investment here is an investment in the long-term sustainability of your company. It’s an investment in building loyalty and commitment, connection and community, with your customers and your employees.
Traditional advertising too often requires you to invest in your agency’s success…regardless of the results they deliver for your success.
2. Shorter Sales Cycle. You’ll see your sales cycle shorten as you see an increase in referrals from your customers. Shorter sales cycle means there’s a shorter length of time between your prospect’s first contact with you and their first payment to you.
Imagine if you could add one week of revenue from each new customer for the past 12 months? You’d do that if you shortened your sales lead time by 7 days. Now, just imagine if you could shorten that by…one month!
3. Increase in Repeat Purchases. That comes from the increase in your customers’ buy-ing as you inspire their buy-in. Happy customers look forward to working with you again. There’s no hesitation in their mind. It’s a delight to buy from you again.
Ok. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it.
Still there are those who may want details. How’s this work, you ask.
Profound Connection with Your Company. What is word-of-mouth but the sign of a strong connection with a brand, with the experience of that brand, with the people who create that brand? That experience inspires communication. You can’t help it.
Word-of-mouth is the result of creating a profound and meaningful connection both with, and among, your customers and your employees.
And it’s a potential infinite motion machine, a never-ending positive feedback loop, where each party inspires the other.
Employees and colleagues are empower to help insure each other’s success…in what? Their job. And their jobs are…making the customer happy.
Your customers then celebrate that experience.
How? As birds fly and bees buzz, they do what comes natural: they tell their friends and neighbors, partners and colleagues and even their own customers.
These testimonials generate referrals. Those referrals then serve as a reward in themselves for your employees.
And one more thing…your customers will voluntarily be the carrot and stick for your employees. Their positive feedback and the referrals they send will be the carrot. The stick (bad term, agreed) will be their expectations now of nothing less than a wow experience.
Now your customers are a loyal and volunteer sales force for your company, as well as cheerleaders and management, coaches and innovators, quality-assurance leaders…and all for the low, simple price of making them happy.
You can’t hire these many people and still remain profitable.
Likwise, your employees’ empowerment and its accompanying peer pressure serves as its own system of carrots and sticks. One of the strongest incentives is peer recognition, together with the means to accomplish one’s job.
It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. You inspire your employees. Your employees inspire each other. They inspire your customers, who inspire their friends, who become your customers…you get inspired…and it starts all over again.
That’s when the playing field starts to level.
Only a small company can have this kind of communication and connection with their employees and customers. There’s no amount of paid advertising that can generate this kind of word-of-mouth, this system of inspiration sources for a brand’s success.
That’s where the momentum starts to grow. That’s where you get the self-sustaining business model. That’s where you own the brand and you generate the cash to continue to own the brand and deliver it so it reflects your vision, together.
And that’s why word-of-mouth should be core to your business.