In this chapter, I am going to tell you the one, single-most effective, proven way to get new referrals, new customers and new business (By now you’ve probably already figured it out). But first, I want to point out a couple of things about basic human nature.
First of all, you need to understand that people like to talk. If you own a business, you want it to be talked about—-a lot.
Word of mouth is, without a smidgen of a doubt, the single most powerful, effective, indisputable way to grow a small business. It produces the kind of business that has staying power. What somebody else says about you is a thousand times more powerful than what you say about yourself. And what they say can and will make you or break you. It’s called credibility and reputation.
Secondly, when people talk about someone or something other than themselves, we tend to listen much more intently. We are more inclined to believe them. They are living testimonials.
You can spend all the money you have on paid advertising and marketing materials, but if your customers say bad things about you and your company, you will not survive for long.
It never fails to give me goose bumps when someone says to me, “I’ve heard really good things about you and your company.” My endorphins begin to flow. Or maybe it’s the Serotonin. I feel great. It immediately makes me want to live up to whatever they’ve heard about me. I can’t help but respond in a positive way.
By the same token, if hear something negative, I suddenly become slump-shouldered and slack-jawed. Defeated. My endorphins are replaced with doubt and anxiety hormones (if there is such a thing). I want to go hide in the nearest swamp.
Here’s an example: I once had a longtime customer fire me. I sent a new technician to his home to provide his regular pest control service. The new technician was not a bad guy or an inept technician. He just didn’t do things exactly the way the old technician did. To make matters worse, when the customer called my office to complain, the person who answered my phone was not able to give him the answers he was looking for. And so, he got mad and fired me. And it hurt. Being fired always hurts.
Anyway, this particular guy was a member of a local civic club. I was also a member. And he was a talker.
For months, I lived in fear that he would openly crucify me in front of the other members (He was known for his sadistic wit). It actually made me so uncomfortable that I wouldn’t sit anywhere near him at the meetings for a long time. To this day I often wonder how much business he may have cost me by talking to others about his displeasure with me and my company. If you consider the potential, it is scary!
But hey, you deliver a poor performance, you live with the bad review….even if it’s an honest mistake. You just buck up and play the hand your dealt. And you learn!
They say unhappy customers talk about us up to eleven times more than happy ones do. It is also a fact that satisfied customers don’t talk about you nearly as much as amazed and wowed customers do.
Yes, you do want people to talk about you. You want them to say great things about you and your company. You want them to call their friends and neighbors and say to them, “Wow, you won’t believe what this person just did for me!” That’s SACS.
Here’s a great example of SACS: I bought a pellet rifle from Cabela’s, which is a large company that caters to the outdoor lifestyles of hunting, fishing, camping and boating. They do a tremendous mail order business.
I had problems with some unwanted rodents around my home and I decided that a really accurate pellet rifle would help me solve my problem. I researched pellet rifles and decided on a model sold by Cabela’s. I ordered it from their catalog. I paid about $340.00 for it. That was a lot of money for a pellet rifle, not to mention the telescopic sights I bought for it also.
A few days later, when I came home and saw the package outside my front door, I was giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to open that package, take out the pellet rifle and head to the woods to test it out.
In order to cock the pellet rifle, you had to pull back a long, spring-loaded lever on the side of the barrel. Once it cocked, you pushed the lever back to its original position. I didn’t read the instructions (Duh) and didn’t realize that you had to press a button on order to release the lever. I pushed it so hard that it broke. Yep. It just snapped at the hinge.
Well, needless to say, my heart just sank. I was sick to my stomach. I had waited so long and patiently and now I had broken my brand new gun without ever even firing it once.
And so, I went straight to the phone and called Cabela’s to find out where to send the rifle to have it repaired. The lady who answered my call was bright, cheerful and eager to help me. When I explained the problem, she was very sympathetic. I believed she felt my pain.
She said, “Just send it back to us Mr. Coleman and we’ll send you a brand new one.”
I said, “You don’t understand Mame. It wasn’t broken when it arrived. I took it out and broke it myself. It is my fault, not yours.”
To which she responded, “Sir, you don’t understand. That’s just the way we do business. We want you to be happy, and it doesn’t matter who broke the gun. We want to send you a brand new one.”
Wow. I was shocked. I was awed. I felt great. I had just experienced SACS big time!
Do you think I have bought more stuff from Cabela’s? Do you think I am a loyal, raving fan of Cabela’s? You darn right I am. And I refer people to them every chance I get.
My point is this: Nothing—-and I mean nothing—-is more powerful for marketing you and your small business than word of mouth in your community. What others say about you will insure either a steady increase or decrease in the size of your customer list and your bank account. It certainly can make you or break you (pardon the cliché again).
It’s a FACT—-the single most effective, proven marketing strategy of all time— is to always provide OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE!
(Maybe you should stop reading, close your eyes, and repeat that last sentence a hundred times out loud.)