When I first set up as a freelancer last year, I had no idea where to start in terms of marketing my business.
I had the required skills and experience but absolutely zero client base.
And so I started following the usual steps.
I bought an email domain, built a basic website, and set up my social media pages.
I posted a blog, wrote a few pieces of content for my social pages that I thought might be relevant, and waited for the clients to roll in...
Needless to say, they didn’t — and I was lucky I already had some work with an agency so I wasn’t on a tight timescale — but imagine if that wasn’t the case.
I soon figured out that it was interactions that mattered.
And being based up North, away from the hustle and bustle of London, it was a more difficult task than most.
My interactions would have to, for the most part, take place online or over the phone.
I connected with fellow Virtual Assistants on LinkedIn and attended my first ever face-to-face networking event. It wasn’t as I’d hoped but it did build up my confidence and provided me with the knowledge I needed to network virtually instead.
I joined Facebook groups and kept an eye on posts for work on both Facebook and LinkedIn. I interacted with fellow business owners, and took part in a skill swap when lockdown hit.
And just as I was about to give up hope, the connections I’d nurtured over the past few months started to materialise.
Building a client base
Soon enough, I had taken a phone call from a Virtual Assistant I’d spoken to four months previous who had recommended a client to me.
I couldn’t believe it.
From there, that client ended up recommending me to someone else, and I picked up a few other small projects from connections I’d made via a Facebook group.
My website and social media pages remained dormant — meanwhile, I had almost a full book of clients.
So why is word-of-mouth so powerful in today’s world?
It’s engaging on a personal level
According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), word-of-mouth marketing can have more than five times the impact of traditional media marketing. And it’s not difficult to see why. We’re all social creatures and we love anything that resonates on a personal level. Marketers are often too focused on ‘collecting’ instead of ‘connecting’, and that’s exactly why you should be focusing on word-of-mouth — it creates a positive personal connection.
It’s based on trust
According to a Nielsen report, 92% of people trust word of mouth/referrals from someone they know, rather than other advertising methods. It’s human nature that we trust what a friend or family member says about a particular product or service, and we’d rather go for something tried and tested than try something new that nobody around us knows about.
It reduces your costs
Think about how much money goes into putting an appropriate advertising strategy in place. It ain’t cheap — particularly for small businesses who are just getting their feet off the ground. You’ll save a lot of money when you make yourself, and your clients, your advertisers. Invest in building loyalty, commitment, and most of all, a community.
My advice to you?
Word-of-mouth should be the core of your business, no matter what stage you’re at, and even more so given the world we now live in.
Strip it all back, be authentic, and create a profound connection with yourself and your brand.