This week’s columns were devoted to the topic of Word of Mouth marketing. There are a number of “distribution channels” through which you can intentionally direct, monitor and amplify word of mouth (“WOM”) marketing. The most important distribution channel, by far, is your existing customers. The clients who know you best and who make up your core business are also your best prospects for spreading the word to others on a third-party basis. It makes good sense to ensure that they have all of the tools necessary to do so effectively. In a very straightforward and open manner, it is possible to not only encourage, but to actively recruit your existing clients as evangelists for your travel planning practice.
In the introduction to this week’s article series, we noted the importance of making certain that your clients understood and are capable of articulating your company’s message. If your clients cannot adequately describe your services, you risk being misrepresented by their well-intentioned efforts. For that reason, in every possible point of contact, you should endeavor to spell out in clear detail why you are special. What unique points make you worthy of a recommendation? The better your clients understand your business ethic and mission statement, the better they can describe it to others. Likewise, if they misunderstand your “reason for being” then they are likely to misrepresent you to others. For example, if one of your clients thinks you are all about finding the lowest possible price on travel, then the people they refer to you might come looking for only for “deals” and will certainly be shopping you.
The first step you can take to get your clients talking about you is to ask them to do so! Give them a way to effectively communicate your message. Only choose your best clients, the ones with whom you most enjoy working. Let your clients know how much you appreciate doing business with them and explain that you want more clients exactly like them – full of enthusiasm and good will. Ask them if they would do you the great favor of recommending one of their acquaintances to you. If they agree, amplify the process by giving your clients some of your business cards and brochures to distribute to friends.
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If you print a newsletter, include a paragraph asking the reader to pass it on to others when they are finished reading it. In an online context, be sure to have a “Tell A Friend” link in your emails to allow clients to forward your newsletter to their family and friends. Be sure to include news not only about travel but also of your civic or volunteer work – those are newsworthy and you need to let clients know about your involvement.
Secondly, ask those same clients for a testimonial. Request that they write you a short note describing their experience working with you, and ask for permission to show it to new clients and to publish the testimonial in your materials with your client’s full name.
When you receive a referral from a client, make sure to let the client know. It is entirely appropriate to send the client a thank you note and a small gift – perhaps a book or a gift card, for having provided you with a new client opportunity.
Your clients are going to talk about you – so give them something to talk about!