Why Word Of Mouth Is Not Enough

3 minute read - 10/09/2019

“Word of mouth referrals is like a free lunch, it’s great when you can get it, but I wouldn’t rely on that to feed my family.”

Word of mouth is great, i’m not knocking that, I mean what’s better than free marketing?

But word of mouth referrals are like a free lunch, it’s great when you can get it, but I wouldn’t rely on that to feed my family. And neither should you.

Word of mouth referrals are PASSIVE marketing. You sit and wait (and hope) for the new customers to come in.

It’s good if you’re getting it, it at least means that you’re offering something to others that people think is so good that they’ll refer their friends, family and colleagues to you.

But what if you want to launch a new product or service? Or reach a new target market?

People tend to refer people like themselves. This can be good or bad (depending on who it is), but if you’re trying to reach a higher quality client, or win more lucrative jobs then what the referring customer was in the past, this can be a bit of a problem.

The other problem is expansion. If you’re wanting to grow your business and put on extra staff, but you’re not sure if you’ll have the work to support them, what do you do?

This is why in ADDITION to word of mouth referrals, you need a marketing system.

If you have a proven marketing system, you can scale things up when work is quiet, or turn it off when you’re at capacity and save your marketing budget for later.

So what is a marketing system?

To me, it’s made up of 3 parts:


Raising Awareness

Raising awareness is about getting your message out to people that have never heard of you before.

This might include things like:

  • Distributing Flyers
  • Facebook Ads
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Magazine & Newspaper adverts
  • Radio and TV ads (personally I think these are the most costly & ineffective)

That is part ONE, but alone it is not enough.

Generally, people need more information from you before they make a purchasing decision, all this does is get your foot in the door. You need to also show them why you’re the guy or gal for the job, and you do this through…


Building trust is about demonstrating your expertise by providing evidence that you:

  1. Understand their problem
  2. Have the solution
  3. Have helped others before like them

Things like having a Facebook or Instagram business page are a great start, as they’re free to set up and relatively cheap to reach others. The downside is that they require regular postings to stay relevant.

Websites are also a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. One advantage of websites over social media profiles is that you can really go in depth and display more information about what your company does, provide more information about your products and services, and provide multiple ways for your customers to get in touch with you. The other upside is that they don’t need to be constantly updated, which is amazing for the ‘time poor’ among us.

Customers will likely research you before they decide whether or not to call. As such your business platforms NEED to look the part, otherwise you run the risk that you’ll actually UN-SELL yourself, and send otherwise interested prospects going elsewhere.

Once you’ve got your platforms down pat, let’s move onto diagnosing the client.


Most people think of this stage as “sales”, but I don’t.

Selling is about trying to convince somebody to buy your stuff when you haven’t built enough trust in their mind yet. You’re trying to talk them into it.

Diagnosing is about trying to talk them out of it. Yes, you heard me, trying to talk somebody out of hiring you. Insane right? But hear me out…

You have to accept that some people aren’t a good match for what you’re offering. It’s unethical and you’re doing both yourself and the client a disservice if you proceed when you’re not a good match for each other.

Where do bad clients come from? They come from doing business with someone who was a poor match for you.


There are jobs that we’ve done in the past, that frankly should never have been done.

We ended up unhappy, the client was unhappy, and this could of all been solved in the beginning by referring them to somebody that was a better match. Learn from our mistakes and screen your customers better.

Develop a process for weeding out bad clients at the first contact level, so that you can spend more of your time and energy on clients who will respect and value what you’re giving them.

In summary, ask yourself

  • How am I RAISING AWARENESS of my business?
  • How am I demonstrating and BUILDING TRUST?
  • How am I DIAGNOSING CLIENTS to filter out the bad from the good?

If you notice any glaring holes in what you’re currently doing, it’s time to get to work.


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