The dangers of relying on word of mouth to build your business

The dangers of relying on word of mouth to build your business - See more at:

Why you shouldn’t rely on word of mouth to build and grow your business

You may think that there’s nothing better than attracting new business by word of mouth, but getting business like this can be a lot more trouble than you think.


I shall explain, but first, just to be clear, I’m talking about naturally occurring word of mouth business, not Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) or Word of Mouth Advertising which is a specific type of marketing that’s created by a business in such a way as to attract and maintain new business. WOMM is a fabulous and generally low-cost way to market your business, that most small businesses are well placed to employ (but don’t). More on this another time…

Word of Mouth

What I want you to be aware of first, is this.

Are you clear who your ideal client or customer is?

Chances are you’re not. If you think you are very clear, then let me ask you a few questions, just to make sure we’re on the same page.

Questions to discover if you know who your ideal client/customer is

  1. Can you describe your ideal client’s morning routine?
  2. What’s his/her greatest regret?
  3. What would he/she love to achieve in 5 years time?
  4. How does he/she like to be contacted? How often?

Could you answer them? Do you think they don’t apply to you and your business? If your ideal client is a business, think¬†about the decision maker in that business – they are still human and have feelings too ūüėČ

I’ll talk more about ideal clients another time, but knowing your ideal clients inside out is crucial.¬†And it’s not just about what they want – it’s what you want from them that counts too.

If you’re not very clear i.e. you can’t answer the questions above then here lies a¬†fundamental problem.

You must get clear on who your ideal client or customer is first

You see, the trouble with not being clear on who your ideal client is means that your current or past clients probably aren’t ideal. Think about this. Are the vast majority of your existing clients ideal for you?

Yes, great!

No? Well, that’s OK. Bear with me while we play this out.

So, if you do a fab job for your clients (which I’m sure you do) then naturally they will recommend you to their friends. Great, right? Well, not really, not if their friends aren’t your ideal clients either…

You see where this is going?

Eventually, after so many years of serving less than ideal clients and customers, you get busy enough, but you’re not happy!

You’re not doing the best you can do because you don’t have ideal clients.

And then, looking around you see other people in your industry who’d love to have all the clients you have so then you feel guilty for feeling bad about it. After all, at least you have all this business now! Can you see how this could lead to burnout this way?

Let’s rewind a bit and look at it¬†a bit more closely.

Customer Love

Why do clients or customers recommend you?

Easy – because they like you, you do a good job, you go above and beyond, etc.

Do you actively tell them who your ideal client is and offer them easy and attractive ways (maybe financially) to refer you more clients?

Probably not, right? Think about the difference it would make if you did this.

Would your clients welcome you making it easier for them to refer you to others?

Let’s say you run a dog walking service.

Would your clients¬†be happy to know that you’d love to work with more clients like them – a mum with a baby, who is struggling to walk her¬†dog every day?

How easy would it be for your client to know that she could happily tell her friends at the next baby group meeting she goes to about you, secure in the knowledge that you want to serve someone else just like her?!

What if you own a cafe and you love to serve artists. Instead of attracting just anyone into your cafe, how good would your ideal customers feel, knowing that you didn’t just want anyone in your cafe, you wanted them?

You connect with them at a deep level, and now they can confidently recommend and invite their other artist friends along.

Now, you might be thinking that you can’t narrow your target market down like this as you wouldn’t have enough business! Or you might be wondering why you need to know the answers to the questions above if you already know that your ideal client is mums of babies, using the dog walker’s example.

How clear is your marketing message?

I’ll talk in depth about your ideal client another time, but for now, let’s just say that if you can really get to know who your ideal client is, not only can your existing clients refer more of them to you, but you attract more of them through all your marketing efforts. And despite what you may think, and I know you may find this hard to believe, the more you narrow down who your ideal client is, the better, and more convincing your marketing messages are.

Have you noticed how some big businesses are using some rather loose connections as material for advertising or marketing campaigns? And they’re doing the rounds on social media, getting lots of attention, going viral, which in the online world is¬†word of mouth.

Here’s an example for you. You may have seen this¬†already. I’m certainly not endorsing the product or company, but I do recognise the effective use of really knowing and understanding their ideal customer.

They sell toiletries, but not in this campaign. Here, they are connecting to a very deep issue that their ideal customer has. They nailed it. And they reached a lot more ideal customers this way.

Now, you probably don’t have the budget for a campaign like this, nor do you need one. The point I’m making with this, is that when you connect with your ideal client, on a deep and meaningful level, and make it clear to them you’d love to serve more people like them they’ll be delighted to refer business your way. And you’ll be delighted to serve more and more of your ideal clients. It’ll make your work better and better and more and more enjoyable – it’ll be like Christmas every day!

Everyone wins, that’s what I always strive for, a win, win, win.

Have you been relying on word of mouth to get new business but been disappointed with the results?¬†Do you think that it’ll help to get clearer on your ideal client? ¬†Let me know in the comments and share your experiences.

Like this?

If so, make sure you¬†get all¬†my marketing tips. I’ll show how every month you can grow your business even when you have little time or money to spend on marketing.

About The Author

Karen Hunt

Creator of the Transformational Marketing Method, How to Get More Clients and Healers Konnect, the unique business club for healers and therapists, based in Totnes, Devon, UK

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