This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010
Women control more than 85% of the spending in the U.S. We’re your market. When it comes to referring you via word of mouth, we dominate the marketplace. We buy trucks, tires, laptops, gardening tools, houses, toys, perfume, and everything else under the sun. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if we don’t buy it, we know someone who does. If you want us to promote you via word of mouth, you need remember just one thing: it’s not about you — its about us (it’s really about me – and if you can grasp the nuances of that – me vs. us – you have a big jump on your competition!).
Let’s get real about word of mouth, fondly referred to as WOM, these days. In the latter 20th century kids ran around chanting, “Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-girl.” Today they’d be chanting, “Telephone, telegraph, tell a blogger.” It’s a fact that blogging and tweeting has extended word of mouth exponentially. It’s also a fact that women dominate both – we’re still the big talkers of the world.
If you’re hankering for real word of mouth, how do you get it? Do you hop on your blog and blog about your latest/greatest? Do you start a twitter account with a bit.ly link to your content? Are you marketing to a demographic? Touting “your stuff” is so old school. Women will burn you if you market to them as a “demographic” or a “target market.” As the latest Merck diabetes commercial tells us so well, we’re people, not statistics. No matter what you sell, grasp this fact: word of mouth begins with the client, no matter who she is.
I don’t really care what you do, who you are, or even who you know. Because it’s just not about you. It’s about me. It’s so much about me that you’ll find me tweeting about it, texting about it, blogging about it! When I make a recommendation, other women stop and listen. That’s partly because I’ve worked hard to establish my focus on marketing to women, but the reality is – I’ve worked even harder to connect with women, to promote them in their business and personal endeavors, and to provide a sounding board when needed. We talk pets, kids, husbands, boy friends, financial planning, conferences, healthcare, the Superbowl, HGTV, you name it.
We spread WOM with every breath! Because we can, not because we need to.
So, if you want great WOM, ask women questions about their lives. Ask for their opinions. Don’t cover or hide your flaws– because your women clients are not going to be shy about pointing them out and if you get defensive – we’ll move on. Use your profile to tell us who you are and what you sell. Use your blog and twitter page to help us solve problems (time crunching is huge, right now), and to engage us in dialogue about our lives, not about your products/services. Tweet about local women’s events and/or organizations. Tweet about us – retweet about us. Tell us why we’re important to you. Share stories about your pets – surprise us with your softer side. Bissell with its recently launched Pack of Pet Lovers is doing a fabulous job with this. Mimic their success.
Us, us, us…not you, you, you! That’s what generates word of mouth referrals. Short story: in the last four years of writing my Lip-sticking blog I’ve met dozens of smart and talented women. The ones who refer me to colleagues and prospects are the ones I’ve supported over the years, without expectation. I can’t wait to talk about them, and vice-versa. The mutual-admiration society we’ve formed helps both of us. It’s word of mouth at its most powerful.
Word of mouth drives a lot of conversation between women. Want some of that? Tap into the power where it exists. p.s. March 8th is International Women’s Day, did you know that? You do now…have at it.
Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, a book about getting those baby boomer icons Dick and Jane to buy at your website. She is also the president and founder of Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC which specializes in business blog building, social media strategy and print-on-demand publishing.