Word of Mouth – Marketing that Works


There are at least three major challenges in marketing our enterprise services:

  1. More than 90% of the population does not see what we do as relevant to them – when it comes to enterprise they are pre-contemplators
  2. Getting our messages through – what are our key messages and how to we get them where they can be heard – by the people that matter?
  3. Giving people the confidence, conviction and commitment to act on the messages – to give us a call, to come to a workshop, to make an appointment, to have a conversation

Now the default setting for the VAST majority of enterprise projects are these:

We won’t worry about the pre-contemplators – we will target those who already have ideas they want to act on or already have the belief and the conviction that they can make progress.  This makes it easier for us to hit our numbers.

Our core messages will be:

1.  we can help turn your dreams into reality (if you don’t have dreams don’t call us)

2.  We can turn your business ideas into reality (ignore the fact that the ‘Dragons’ mash up and humiliate most of the poor saps that go to them – with our help you can’t fail)

3. It is quick – and relatively easy – (if you haven’t got the skills we can teach them to you) – you can be up and running in just weeks or months.  10 000 hours to master a field – forget it – who is Malcolm Gladwell anyway? 3 half day workshops and a bit of one to one on the business plan will “see you ‘reet”. (Glad no-one is measuring survival rates on our projects!)

4.  To get people to take action we will lure them in by hinting at the availability of money, childcare, bouncy castles and food.  We will even pay them the bus fare (yes, it costs a lot to administer but – what are we to do…?)

5.  We will spend a lot of money on marketing collateral, leaflets, web sites and e-mail marketing campaigns (digital exclusion! – you mean some poor people don’t have e-mail accounts – never mind they could never become proper business people anyway – they are not our target group).

6. We will attend every possible event and push our services hard – just like those guys who sell SKY TV and Credit Cards in the Merrion Centre – “You mean we shouldn’t be selling enterprise like any other commodity?  Why not?”

We know that these approaches:

  • are expensive
  • have very low hit rates
  • attract a whole load of people who just want to get the money without putting in the work
  • attract people easily seduced by the idea of a quick fix – rather than composing a life and a livelihood
  • elicit more suspicion, frustration and cynicism than enthusiasm and engagement
  • provide us with very high customer acquisition costs.  (interesting that most entrepreneurs are very interested in this number – yet most projects funded to support entrepreneurs don’t worry about their own cost per customer acquisition at all – ‘We are below targets – lets throw some more money at marketing then!’).

What about looking at marketing approaches that work.

Word of mouth.

Reputation building, seeking referrals and recommendations – based on the fact that we are bloody good!  That we do inspire, transform, care and coach.  That we are more than interested in people and their passions.  That we are with them for the long haul.

Worrying more about what every customer says about us to their mates, in the pub, in the clubs and on the streets, rather than some abstract and easily manipulated percentage that represents ‘customer satisfaction’ – YUK!

Being the kind of people and the type of service that our customers can’t wait to recommend to their friends.

Once we start to spend time and money on developing marketing and enagement strategies  based on:

  • reputation management
  • referrals
  • introductions
  • social networking
  • gatekeepers, and
  • the needs, interests, cultures and values of the communities we serve (rather than policy goals and outcomes)

we would start to see the basics of our own businesses transformed.

  • 10% of customers influence the purchasing decisions of the other 90%
  • 91% of customers are “likely” to buy off of a recommendation
  • 92% of customers “prefer” a word of mouth recommendation
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