However, word-of-mouth can only get you so far. Each individual person has a fairly limited social circle and, thus, a relatively limited sphere of influence. Further still, you’d have to recount your recommendation each time you want to tell someone new. You can only influence a small number of people at any given time. Word-of-mouth has its strengths, but it also has its severe weaknesses as well.
With the rise of the Internet in general and social media specifically, the level of influence that you can exert has increased dramatically. Much more powerful than word-of-mouth is word-of-mouse marketing. Opinions spread much more quickly and widely online, so it’s important you keep track of what people are saying about your company. You can also help them along.
Cost Advantages of Word-of-Mouse
While there are certainly some exceptions, most freelance writers simply do not have the marketing budget to invest in a lot of paid advertising. Further still, paid advertising may not even bring a great ROI unless it is quite targeted. A television ad or a radio spot probably wouldn’t bring me much in terms of new business, especially considering the costs involved. Yes, paid advertising is a tax writeoff, but it may not bring the kind of returns that you would like to see as a freelancer. The possible exception may be blog advertising, particularly for sites visited by other site owners.
With word-of-mouse marketing, however, your out-of-pocket expenses are minimal. You just have to ensure that you are providing the best customer service experience and the best product possible. If your clients are impressed with what you have to offer, they may feel inclined to share that experience with their acquaintances. Encourage them to mention your services on their website, blog, or some other online medium.
If they’ve got significant reach, this mere mention can result in significant business for you. Being mentioned on John Chow’s blog has been favorable to me, for example. This is why it is oftentimes favorable to blog for others, especially if you are able to set up a profile page of some sort. The byline, in and of itself, could be a source of new clients.
Networking with Online Social Types
Given the push toward word-of-mouse marketing, it is also very favorable that you interact and network with people who are well-versed in social media and the workings of the Internet. I’m not saying that you should avoid old-fashioned companies altogether, but working with companies that make significant use of online media can help bring more business your way as well.
I attend Dot Com Pho partly because these are like-minded individuals with similar online inclinations. Even if the attendees don’t order a writing project from me directly, they can utilize their online influence to passively (and sometimes actively) refer new customers my way.
Take Advantage of Twitter and Retweets
In case you haven’t noticed, Twitter has become a preferred medium of communication for many folks online. I follow some non-personal Twitter accounts, partly out of interest and partly because this passive networking could result in additional referrals too. Get your name and brand out there in the Twitter-sphere. You never know who could be listening and they just may be in need of a freelance writer, designer, coder, or artist like yourself.
Word-of-mouse marketing. Click here for success?