Illustration of three diverse people with speech bubbles on a yellow background, discussing a presentation titled "why word-of-mouth marketing can't be your only strategy" from Spring Insight.

Why Word-of-Mouth Marketing Can’t Be Your Only Strategy

I love a good networking event. Sure, pastries are nice, but really what I love is getting to talk to other business owners and meeting friends, new and old, and talking business. 

Recently, I was answering the inevitable question of “what do you do” and the person replied with the following. 

“My business is pulling in clients by word-of-mouth. I have more work than I can handle so I don’t need a great site or to get involved with other marketing stuff.”

Now I get this comment … a lot. My first thought is, that is great! Congrats on sustaining your business purely on word of mouth. My second thought, well that is risky. Is word of mouth, or referral marketing, enough to sustain any business indefinitely? 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you believe that word-of-mouth marketing is enough on its own. 

  1. Where do people go when they hear about you through word-of-mouth?

Let’s say you need an attorney so you start asking around at a networking event. You hear from several people that so-and-so is the best attorney in your area for the type of work you need. You trust their opinions, you’re feeling great about the referral and relieved that you won’t have to resort to Googling and throwing a dart against the wall to pick one.

What is the very next thing you’re going to do? That’s right. You are going to visit that attorney’s website. Part of it is a proof of life sort of thing. Does this attorney exist? But way beyond that, you are looking for signs of credibility, competence, and alignment with your needs. If you arrive at their website and it is slow, basic, goofy, or off-putting, your gut is going to tell you this is not the attorney for you and you’re going to bounce.

Your website is almost always the first impression moment for potential clients that are checking you out based on word-of-mouth recommendations. You squander this critical opportunity when your site is not impressive, functional, and clear. 

     2. How can you scale your business to catch bigger fish without the right hook?

Your business is going gangbusters with all of the incredible word-of-mouth referrals you are getting. You are scaling, fast, and something amazing is happening. Those amazing clients who came to you from people in your network are starting to tell other people about your business. And these are bigger fish that you definitely want to catch. 

The last thing you want is for the whale to land on your website and think you are rinky-dink. You’ve heard that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, right? It’s like that. Your website needs to be dressed for success. It needs to have all the right hooks and tasty morsels that are going to attract the big fish. 

      3. Will you be ready when you want to turn up the heat on client acquisition?

Listen, I completely agree with the premise that you can’t get better leads than word-of-mouth. But, the challenge is there is a lack of control. Word-of-mouth is not something you can do…there is no way to turn up the heat. There is no lever to pull. 

We all know that the unexpected happens. Maybe a client leaves or your referral well dries up. When you find yourself needing new customers, you very well may want to try other proven marketing methods like running a digital ad campaign or social media.

If your site is not ready for that, you won’t be ready to fully leverage those other marketing tactics. You’ll be all jazzed and ready to roll out a marketing campaign but your site won’t have the back end functionality to support the effort. And then you’ll have to fix up your website before it’s on the critical path to your other efforts.

Even if your business is “fully fed” by referral or word-of-mouth marketing, you still need a website that wows potential customers. In fact, when your business is operating at full cylinders and things are solid, that is the perfect time to redo your site. You have the cash flow to make your site remarkable, so do it! Then your business can continue to grow, you can rebound from unforeseen hits, bounce back quickly, sustain in any economic condition, and acquire new customers.

Ready to revamp your website? We want to help. Get in touch with our team and let’s set you up with a website that perfectly complements your word-of-mouth marketing.