If ever there was a time to be less reliant upon word of mouth it would be now thanks to world changing events that took place in June this year.
You have lulled your business into a false sense of security if work is being booked in from word of mouth and recommendations alone. A wise business owner will look to market and promote their business through a number of channels to stave of those famine weeks/months. While word of mouth marketing is free and effective, it is slow as you are relying on people to tell another person. They may not need you just yet. You simply cannot grow your business through word of mouth alone during unsettling times.
What happens when those happy customers are not there? What happens when external factors have a knock on effect to your customers and to your business? What happens when those word of mouth recommendations dry up? How will you address the marketing gaps that word of mouth marketing cannot do?
As a business owner you need to take a proactive approach to marketing your business at all times so that your business has the best chance of being out there and seen. All marketing activity takes time. Advertising and promotion works in cycles. A customer may not need you yet, so it's a game of timing and your business stands a better chance of being considered if they are aware of your existence.
An ideal mix for business owners here in France would be having a website to educate visitors and showcase your services or product, use local advertising, having flyers and business cards at the ready, making the most of social media. Make it easy for people to find you. When coupled with exceptional service, fair pricing, and putting your customer at the heart of your business all of this naturally leads toward more word of mouth recommendations, and your own marketing efforts have contributed to this.
Receiving word of mouth recommendations is the ultimate compliment your business could have, and this is primarily due to being a great business to do business with, having happy customers from one end of their experience to the other and them being happy to talk about you to their family and friends and acquaintances. This kind of recommendation builds immediate trust. It's a great position to be in but it is not a reliable way to ensure ongoing business.
Indeed there are many industries around the world that survive and thrive on word of mouth but these too have to have a smart plan behind them too.
Is it time for you and your business to broaden marketing horizons?
Other related articles:
Marketing your way through a business famine
Why do I need a marketing plan?