Sometimes, you have to laugh! I was sitting at my desk, getting ready to write this blog post, and an email just whizzed past me on its way to my inbox.
It’s announcing an upcoming webcast for the American Marketing Association. The Topic: Referral Marketing. Seems it’s a hot new trend for 2014!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m planning to register and attend. I’ve been a member of the American Marketing Association for years, and find them a valuable source of training and thought leadership.
What made me laugh is that getting business by referral isn’t a hot new trend – it’s the always been best way to grow your business.
In fact, for the small and medium size business with a limited marketing budget, it’s the only way to grow your business. I’m a huge believer in business by referral. In fact, I was a BNI Director for several years. I’ve trained hundreds of small business owners in the BNI system of gaining business by referral. Before becoming a Director, I was a member, and used the system to get business for my own business.
I think the big agencies and big brands are beginning to catch on to business by referral because of Social Media. A few years back, when Social Media was just beginning to gain traction, I went to an American Marketing Association luncheon about just this topic. Several large consumer brands were on the panel, discussing how their customers were seeking recommendations for a variety of products on social media platforms and how to take advantage of this new opportunity.
Big brands are now discovering what small businesses have always known about the importance of having satisfied customers spread the word about their brand. It’s nothing new, really. We are social creatures. Since humans have been buying and selling goods to each other, we’ve been discussing, comparing and suggest products among ourselves. Now, we can go online and amplify our message on FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, Yelp and hundreds of sites, forum, platforms and email lists.
It’s a two-edged sword, sometimes, because angry customers will spread the word, usually with much more passion.
What brings huge success with word of mouth and referral marketing is having a powerful story about your brand. It’s not enough to have great food, or great customer service. You have to have something about your product, service or mission so compelling that others spread the word.
Do you have favorite brand? What’s the story?