One of the common themes running through our recent series of SBSC roundtables was that most partners rely almost exclusively on word of mouth to generate new business, but that most didn't have a process in place to help maximize it.

What about you? I'm not suggesting that you need to give a 5% discount or whatever for every recommendation that an existing customer brings on (although this does work for some), however it is worthwhile to look at what you're doing to help drive positive recommendations.

Some of the partners I've worked with who are successful with this use a combination of the following:

  • Newsletter / blog / customer forum on their website to keep people up to date & facilitate feedback (good & bad)
  • Regular customer satisfaction surveys
  • Follow-up thank-you notes one month & three months after the installation / deployment / project
  • Case-studies & referenceable customer sites on your website
  • Straight out asking (in a nice way) if the customer would mind passing on their details to any colleague or peer that they think would benefit from the service
  • Always giving two business cards - one to keep, one to pass on

Of course, you need to have top-notch service and sometimes offer that little extra something that makes you unique. Although a sushi restaurant has nothing to do with providing IT solutions, there's a good example of a business doing just this with great results - Check it out here.



PS - I picked up this link from one of my absolute must-read blogs - Seth Godin. He's basically the godfather of what I think of as person-to-person marketing & if you're looking to grow your word of mouth, you should definitely add him to your blogroll.