Episode 213

Word of Mouth Marketing

June 11, 2019

With social media and email marketing having become so popular in recent years, it’s easy to forget that word of mouth marketing is a tried and true method that has consistently worked throughout time. In this episode, Emily and Kathleen break down what word of mouth marketing is, they explain how it works, and they give tips for how you can use things such as client gifting, testimonials, and your passion to make it work for you.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Once you are clear about what you are doing, you are going to deliver it amazingly and people are going to know how to talk about it."
- Emily

Discussed in this Episode

  • What IS word of mouth marketing?
  • Why social media, ads, and content are NOT word of mouth
  • How word of mouth marketing works
  • How enthusiasm and passion for what you do will increase your value
  • Why your customer service and delivery have to be exceptional
  • Collecting testimonials and asking for referrals
  • Client gifting
  • How to integrate it all with social media, blogging, and podcasting


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:02
I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:04
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily Thompson 0:05
And this is Being Boss.

Emily Thompson 0:13
And this episode of Being Boss, we're talking all about word of mouth marketing, what it is, why it's important and how to make it work for you. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we've referenced on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

Kathleen Shannon 0:30
If you want to make more money doing what you love, I've got a really practical and simple tip for you. Invoice your clients. Now we recommend getting a partial payment upfront and FreshBooks Cloud Accounting lets you do just that. You can get paid upfront by requesting a deposit on your invoice, and FreshBooks Cloud Accounting makes it so easy to send professional looking invoices in just seconds and get this with FreshBooks you can accept credit cards on your invoices. This means that you'll get paid faster up to 11 days faster. Whenever you're not chasing claims for cheques or waiting in line at the bank. Try FreshBooks Cloud Accounting for free by going to freshbooks.com/beingboss and enter Being Boss in the how did you hear about us section.

Emily Thompson 1:20
Kathleen, I'm so excited about diving into this topic today. This is one I feel like we may have to hold back on or like I feel like and what I mean is, I could talk about this for like five hours.

Kathleen Shannon 1:33
Word of mouth marketing.

Emily Thompson 1:36
Let's do it.

Kathleen Shannon 1:37
I mean, I can't believe that we haven't talked about this yet on Being Boss because it's probably the number one way that we've both grown any and all of our businesses.

Emily Thompson 1:46
Well, I'll tell you why though, word of word of mouth marketing is not sexy. Instagram is right? Or like hosting webinars that grow your list by 80,000. People like those things are sexy. Word of mouth marketing is old school and kind of lame. But the most effective.

Kathleen Shannon 2:03
Well, and it's funny, you know, no one can sell a course in word of mouth marketing. Like you just have to be good at what you do, deliver excellent customer service to one client. And then to have them share the word of mouth about how great you are.

Emily Thompson 2:20
Right? So let's dive in. I'm excited to do it.

Kathleen Shannon 2:23
Okay, so let's start by defining what is word of mouth marketing.

Emily Thompson 2:27
So word of mouth marketing is what happens when like you just said, You are so great to a customer or a client, they go tell other people with their mouth, but also maybe via email, or maybe even an Instagram message or something. They go tell someone else about you. And that person is a referral, who comes to you to work with you based on the testimonial that came from that previous customer or client.

Kathleen Shannon 2:58
Yeah, and it's funny because whenever I think about word of mouth marketing, I think a lot about branding and positioning. And there's even this exercise that we have in the Braid Method where we have our client, imagine that they're overhearing their client talking about them in a coffee shop to somebody else. You know, so for example, let's say I'm at a coffee shop, and you don't, I don't know that you're there. And someone's saying like, Hey, have you? Have you ever bought an Almanac candle? What do you think about it? And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, let me tell you about it. It's so good. And the delivery was so prompt, and you know, the experience was amazing. It's the things that you're overhearing them say. You can also do it in the reverse and think about what would you not want someone to say, whenever they're sharing, you know, word of mouth, about your business and experience and it can kind of help you pinpoint where there are gaps in your process or gaps in your product or delivery that you could improve upon.

Emily Thompson 3:54
Yeah, and I think that this is so powerful. I know for me whenever I started, pretty much all of my businesses except for Being Boss. Well, okay, let's, let's go back. So tanning salon business, you didn't even have social media back then there was no email marketing, there was nothing the only way that people found you unless you were like buying an ad in the phonebook was word of mouth marketing, Someone was saying, Oh, girl, you got a nice tan, where do you go and they'd be like, well check out this place. So I started business in a time when word of mouth marketing was basically the only way you could effectively get new customers and clients. So I learned as well of nurture those relationships in a way that garnished me that sort of that sort of referral. But then also Indie Shopography as well. For years, I never did anything in that business, for marketing myself apart from very powerful word of mouth marketing, as well as a weekly email and I wouldn't even really call that email marketing. That was just nurturing some relationships. That was more content marketing. I think than email marketing. But most of it came from word of mouth, I would do such a great job for a client that they would go tell everyone they knew that if they needed a web design person, they should come to me. And they would, I would have clients who would send me more and more clients for years. So I think that it's such a powerful way for us all to go back to think about this sort of real world use of how it is that we market our businesses, apart from all of these things that take up all of our time and energy and have questionable results. Because I do know that if anything is going to work, it's going to be word of mouth marketing period.

Kathleen Shannon 5:40
Yeah. And what I really love about word of mouth marketing is that it just takes one happy client or one happy customer. And I think that this day and age, we're so obsessed with metrics and popularity and, you know, building our lists and growing our social and getting all the likes, but word of mouth marketing is where you can leverage one or two raving customers into an entirely profitable business where you can pay the bills doing what you love. And so for us, this happened with you know, early in our Braid Creative days, we got hired by Brene Brown. I feel like I'm constantly talking about this. But it was so helpful, because then she started referring us to a bunch of people who are going through her leadership training and her Daring Way training, and we started working with more and more coaches, who then were referring us to their friends, especially as the coaching industry kind of took off and started booming. A lot of those people need to branding and who did they go to? Right. And so it was really cool to also carve out a niche at the same time. And I think that niche is so important for word of mouth marketing. But before we get too deep into that, I want to talk about a little bit about what word of mouth...

Emily Thompson 6:57
This is gonna be all the tongue twisters, guys.

Kathleen Shannon 7:00
I know, word of mouth is hard to say. So before we really get into that, I want to talk a little bit about what word of mouth marketing isn't, because I think it can be a little bit confusing. I think that sometimes people think that content creation or social media interactions are word of mouth marketing, and they aren't necessarily.

Emily Thompson 7:19
No, for sure. So if you are, you know, putting all of your eggs into the social media basket, if you're doing lots of ads, and whenever I started thinking about this, of course, well, part of me is like billboards, and like all those traditional ad spaces, but also Facebook ads, and Pinterest ads, and those sorts of newer avenues of advertising as well. Even content marketing is not social media, or is not word of mouth marketing. But I do think, I do think that there is a way that social media marketing can be. And I think this is a new development that has come with the rise of influencer, marketing, where you can, influencers can become your word of mouth marketers. So it's the way that social media has sort of stepped into that realm of being an avenue for word of mouth, more word of mouth, Oh, geez, word of mouth marketing. But what I want to really hone in on is the fact that all of these items, social media, ads content, these are like, facade, marketing, these are sort of outside you can put all kinds of tons, or all kinds of energy and time into these things, but they're just sort of the outer layer. And you can have great marketing but have really shitty service, or really awful product, all of these things. So I see them as a facade whereas a word of mouth marketing is driven by the meat of your business. It's driven by you being awesome at what you do.

Kathleen Shannon 8:51
Well, and I think that it's organic and authentic, it's coming from a real person who has had a real experience with your business or with your product. And this is where I would be careful with influencer marketing. Because if that influencer if you're paying them to talk about your product that is not word of mouth marketing now if you have brand advocates or brand ambassadors who are tightly you know, knowledgeable and involved in your business, right so I think about my friends at Shop Good I will throw on a T-shirt and I will promote them because I truly love them and I every year I do all my Christmas shopping there or you know Almanac candles or mean Almanac candle or Almanac Supply Company. I'm thinking about your candles. I love the way that they smell and I will gladly tell anybody any day of the week how much I love that product right and so, my friends, you know that I can influence for micro because I don't have a huge following. And that's great. And I've also heard friends that have paid for influencer marketing and it's fallen flat. It's resulted in zero sales. And I think it is because there is that genuine. That genuineness there, whenever it comes to someone who's actually promoting you who has been involved.

Emily Thompson 10:06
People can smell authenticity from a mile away these days, which I think is is great. But it does make it really important for you to go at any of these, any of these avenues. With that in mind, so throwing a ton of money into any of those sort of like facade marketing things, including the influencer marketing that you are paying for. People can tell. People can totally tell. So going the more authentic route. So having all of your friends be brand ambassadors and thinking about influencer marketing through that lens, as well as word of mouth marketing, I've always found that to be the most important and effective, and efficient place to put time and energy when it comes to building a business and growing your name brand.

Kathleen Shannon 10:59
One thing that you said earlier is that word of mouth marketing is driven by the meat of your business. And I think that this goes back to our conversation last week, which is if you want to make a business doing what you love, if you want to be a creative entrepreneur or a freelancer, if you want to turn your side hustle into a full time gig, then really focus on honing your craft. But then also perfecting your processes and your customer service systems. And really just doing your best at what you do. I think that so often we're trying to find a silver bullet or throw money at the problem with Facebook ads to get more clients. When if you could just focus your efforts on doing what you do best and making that an amazing experience for your customer or your client, then you will get that word of mouth marketing. And it might be a little bit more of a slow burn marketing effort. But it's going to create a sustainable business that pays

Emily Thompson 12:01
For sure. And that can be one of the hardest things for a business owner to wrap their head around even even with David and I doing Almanac these days. So I've learned how long term these things can be. And even thinking about what I was doing at Indie and having a client that I'd worked with one year, and then they would refer someone to me two years later, even like it think about a two year lead time on a referral. Right?

Kathleen Shannon 12:28

Emily Thompson 12:29
That's so real. And but knowing that that's just part of the process. We've been doing some markets locally in Chattanooga, and David's, I can tell David can sometimes get a little testy or like he just really wants things to start converting now. And I'm like, no, you will be so surprised. Whenever 6, 8, 12 weeks from now someone shows up that you talk to about that thing 6 8, 12 weeks ago, and they're finally back to buy that thing, or they were sent there by someone that you talked to weeks ago. Like these long term gains are the parts of business that have been, but have sort of become the undercurrent in, you know, today's fast paced instant gratification of all the online automations. But these are the things that businesses are built on. This idea that you nurture relationships now, by providing amazing service and products. And those things will feed you not for six weeks. But for six years now or more these things will come back to you. But it is a long game that takes a mindset shift and a commitment to hone your craft being here doing the work and seeing what comes out of the hard work that you do.

Kathleen Shannon 13:43
Yeah, and you know what this means? It means that you have to keep showing up. And you can't pivot every single time something doesn't work. Yes. And you can't pivot or change your ideas every single time, or change your business model every single time you get a new idea. I think that this is one of the biggest issues that I'm seeing with creative entrepreneurs is that if something doesn't convert immediately, they're like, okay, what's wrong? I need to change my business, I need to change my course of action. I need to change my offering. And I do think there's something to testing and changing and tweaking and iterating but not completely pivoting so quickly,

Emily Thompson 14:23
For sure. And I again, I think that's those lessons like think about, think about the lessons you can learn from businesses that have been in place for 100 years, or that were functioning even 20 years ago, before we had all of these instant metrics. And you know, we can see all these instant conversions and we were reaching people halfway across the globe. Like, imagine if you were sending letters back and forth to these people like this. These things take time and they should take time. And that doesn't mean that your business is growing slowly and it doesn't mean that you are not going to reap some sort of reward. It just means you have to wait, you have to continue showing up, but also a heavy dose of waiting.

Kathleen Shannon 15:06
All right, I've got one thing I really want to say about word of mouth marketing.

Emily Thompson 15:11
Well, I can't wait to hear what this is.

Kathleen Shannon 15:15
You have to have a clear product, like you have to have an end result that people can talk about. And I suppose what I'm trying to get at is I see a lot of people trying to sell a feeling, whenever it comes to their business, like I want to help you feel empowered. This is the biggest one. And I'm sure you listeners can resonate, like how many, you know, quotes or ads or positioning statements, have you seen recently of someone saying that they want to help you feel empowered, I'm even getting direct messages into my inbox. Of course, we get pitched a lot here at Being Boss, but it's like I help women feel empowered. I don't know what you're talking about. I mean, I do know what you're talking about, I get it. But I want a really clear call to action. And I get it with coaches like it's really a little bit more nebulous, and it's a little bit more. There's nothing super tangible to really grab ahold of whenever it comes to talking about what you do. But then just take it one step further. So let's say you want people to feel confident, or you want people to feel empowered, just define what that means. So you might say, I help women create an action plan to quit their day job and start working for themselves within six months, you know, like something that is just real and specific.

Kathleen Shannon 16:36
So what word of mouth marketing is and how I think that this relates is that someone might say, Hey, I got some amazing branding from Braid Creative. This is that overheard exercise in the coffee shop. And then the other person says, branding, what does that mean? They make your logo. And they say, Yeah, they made my logo. But then they also helped me with my positioning statement and my messaging. And it was so great. But along the way, I just felt really heard, right, but we're not leading with our positioning, saying, we help creative entrepreneurs feel heard.

Emily Thompson 17:13

Kathleen Shannon 17:13
we're leading with the branding. Does that make sense. And so I would say whenever it comes to word of mouth marketing, think about what it is that you're selling first, and that end deliverable. And if it's not a product, if you're not a maker, if it's a thing, if it's not as tangible. Think about what your client looks like, before they work with you, and after they work with you. But then think about how you make them feel along the way. And those are the things that really helped drive word of mouth marketing, they help. They they're kind of like it's like a one two punch, right. So the one is the offering the two is how you made them feel along the way. So that might be the customer service. And it's the thing that's that extra delightful surprise.

Emily Thompson 17:57
Yes, I think that is so important. Whenever it comes to word of mouth marketing, people need to know how to talk about you. And it needs to, really think about that real conversation like a friend's not going to sit down next to you and go OMG Braid made me feel so heard, they were going to think, right, they're not going to lead with that. So really think about that conversation, I think that can be such a powerful exercise are getting out of your own head and away from what it is that you think that you're doing and really getting in with what you are doing. Because once you're clear about what you are doing, you're going to deliver it amazingly. And people are going to know how to talk about it too. And that's what word of mouth marketing is.

Kathleen Shannon 18:39
All right. So listeners here is a tangible exercise that you can do right now. Write down what it is that you actually sell. And then write down something that's like maybe a delightful surprise along the way. Don't lead with the delightgul surprise, lead with what it is that you do get really good at doing that too. And then make sure that you're staying accountable to surprising and delighting your customers along the way with excellent customer service, or really streamlined processes, stuff like that.

Emily Thompson 19:13
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Kathleen Shannon 19:56
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Emily Thompson 20:35
Alright, I want to dive into how word of mouth marketing works. We've just talked about, like, what it is and how we sort of set it up. But really how it works and what it is that you do with it. So that actually works for you.

Kathleen Shannon 20:49
Well, first of all, first of all, first of all,

Emily Thompson 20:52
Yeah, that's that afraid to phrase.

Kathleen Shannon 20:55
I'm so sorry, dear listeners, I'm having the hardest time talking today. First off, word of mouth marketing works best whenever you're incredibly passionate about your work. Whenever you are excited about what you do, it gets everybody else on board and excited about what you do as well.

Emily Thompson 21:12
I have a perfect example of this. Just last night, I was visiting a new distillery in town with a friend of mine. And we show up and the woman behind the bar who is one of the owners of this distillery was one of the most or least enthusiastic people I've ever met about the work that she does. And it was one of those moments where like, afterwards, I left with my friend. And because we're both like, you know, always talking business stuff, we start talking about the effect that kind of thing has on our experience, and the feedback that we're going to give about that experience. So complete lack of passion. And you could tell she was there because this was like, this was her husband's business, like you could tell that it was not hers, it was her husband's huge lack of passion.

Kathleen Shannon 22:03
This makes it even sadder she should be excited and proud of her husband.

Emily Thompson 22:08
Excited and proud but also go home, you can go home, I think that's fine. Anyway, perfect example of how a lack of passion and can really make the word of mouth marketing, take it in an opposite direction. Whereas if I show, if I were to have shown up there, and she would have been the most passionate excited person on the face of the planet, because the product was good, the product was great. If she had been as passionate about her product as the product was good, it would have been a completely different experience. And my feedback of that experience would be the complete opposite of what it was. So in that space, it wasn't even the product that dictated my feedback or response. It was a her lack of passion for the work that she was doing.

Kathleen Shannon 22:56
You know, and on the flip side, nobody's the best at what they do. Like unless you're Beyonce, and even some people might argue that. But unless you're Beyonce, like you're not the best at what you do. There's always going to be someone who is better, faster, richer, prettier, you know, whatever it is, right? Sometimes your passion for your product, or the thing that you're doing, can make a let's say your products, an eight out of 10 it can push it into a 10. Right if you're excited and passionate about it. And so using the distillery as an example, I'm not a huge whiskey drinker. But we went to a Chattanooga whiskey distillery, once upon a time on a Being Boss mastermind trip. And it was so fun. Like I really don't care about the process of how whiskey is distilled. But this guy giving us the tour was so knowledgeable and excited to share with us that it made me excited about it. And it means that whiskey tastes that much better.

Emily Thompson 23:56
Right? And I have an example of this as well, where I was at the beach and we wander into this chocolate store at the beach and not like it wasn't an ice cream store. Like it wasn't like your usual beach stop. It was a cute little chocolate shop we go in. And like it's kind of cute. And they are me being the judgy business owner that I am I'm like, ooh, I'd changed the packaging there, I don't believe probably paint the walls different color there. But the guy behind the counter was so in love with his life, and that he got to show up and do that work everyday. Like total like beach guy with his shirt kind of unbuttoned maybe a little too far. But it's fine. You're at the beach. And we're asking him like, you know, how are you doing? And he was just like, I'm just so happy to be here today. And I was like, is this your spot? He was like, yeah, we've been here for a couple of years. He starts telling us the story like complete and utter passion and love for the work that he was there doing that I bought extra. And I told everyone that I ran into at the beach that week about this cute little chocolate shop that they had to go check out. So agreed. I think that an enthusiastic and passionate business owner or you know, face of your business, whoever that's going to be, will take mediocre product up multiple levels. So I do think that like step number one of having effective word of mouth marketing is for you to show up and be so passionate and enthusiastic about the work that you do that it's just infectious to anyone who comes in contact with you.

Kathleen Shannon 25:25
Alright, I have a story.

Emily Thompson 25:26
Let's hear it.

Kathleen Shannon 25:27
I was recently in Santa Fe with my husband, it was our first getaway together since having Fox who's now five years old. So we had like a little four day getaway. And we were staying in this really cute Airbnb across the street from this mission church. And every afternoon smells of Indian food, we're just flooding our apartment, and I love some good Indian food. So I'm walking downstairs, I think we were going to a bar and walk past the Indian food place. And the guy standing or the guy cooking kind of like comes out from behind the bar area. And he was like, Hey, you can come in here smells are free, like the smells are free. You just come in and check it out. And he's like, No, I'm like, I'm meeting my husband at the bar next door for a drink and, but I'll come back. So I grabbed the menu. And the guy was so friendly and nice. I went back and I was like, you know, I'm gonna order some food. And we'll just watch Netflix and eat some Indian food upstairs. The food was phenomenal. It was so good. So the next day, I went back and I said, Hey, I just wanted to come back and tell you that your food was amazing. We ended up chatting a little bit more. This guy is from Michigan, or he's originally from India, but had moved to Michigan and recently moved to Santa Fe, and had reopened his Indian store there, or his Indian restaurant. And get this is also crazy. He's from the town that I just bought a house in.

Emily Thompson 26:52
Love it.

Kathleen Shannon 26:52
Which is pretty wild. So just in small world coincidence thing, which you know, I love some, you know, I love some coincidence like that some woowoo magic and felt magical. But this experience was so positive, both my interactions with the people working at the restaurant, and the food itself that I left a Google review, and I never leave Yelp or Google reviews, I just don't really think about it. I try and get on Amazon and leave book reviews, you know, every so often, like every quarter, I'll do a batch of them based on what I'm reading on my Kindle. But now I'm kind of more committed to leaving Yelp and Google reviews because this is the way that I can be a word of mouth marketer. For people in a town, you know that I'm not friends with anybody in. And so this is also earlier, we're talking about social media and the intersection of technology and word of mouth marketing and when it's authentic, and when it isn't. So this is like an authentic experience. So that's something I've been doing. And I would encourage anyone who is having good experiences at places to leave a review. If you had a bad experience, I would just stay quiet about it.

Emily Thompson 28:00
Call them and tell them personally.

Kathleen Shannon 28:03
Yeah, for sure.

Emily Thompson 28:06
Right. So I think it's number one, passion for your work, absolutely mandatory, it can completely and utterly change the experience for anyone, regardless of the quality of your product, whether it's great, and your negative, you know, enthusiasm, is there such thing as negative enthusiast, your lack of enthusiasm.

Kathleen Shannon 28:23
I'm sure there are a lot of people who are enthusiastically negative out there.

Emily Thompson 28:28
That is a fact. But how, how a lack of enthusiasm can make a great product less exciting. So number one passion for your work, very important. Next up, your customer service, or the delivery of your product or service needs to be impeccable. And this goes back to honing your craft, which is the last episode that we did. If you haven't checked it out, go back and listen to that. This idea that, and I think I've said this before, like I'm not here to be a social media marketer. I'm not even here to be a content marketer. I am not here to you know, do any of these things where I'm like, plastering that facade, on the outside of my business telling everyone I'm cool when I'm not making sure that the thing that I'm offering or delivering isn't the most spot on thing that I can offer or deliver. So I think you have to be passionate about it. But then I think you have to be bomb ass at what it is that you are doing. So that that word of mouth marketing is organic, and authentic and just as enthusiastic as you are because no one is going to or it will definitely elevate the word of mouth marketing, if what it is that people get from you is amazing.

Emily Thompson 29:42
So this means things like making sure that your process for delivering your service is so spot on. I know whenever I was working whenever I was doing websites at Indie Shopography, one of the things that I would get complaints about most with people who are coming to me getting their second or third or fourth website was that previous service providers had really shitty processes. They would just like, ghost them at some point in the process or weren't very clear about communicating what was due next, or when was the site going to launch or whatever it was. So I made it my personal mission to make sure that my website design process was the most spot on clear and like, amazingly communicated thing that I could deliver. And I did. And because of that, I was able to build a multi six figure business through basically word of mouth marketing alone, because my process and what I was delivering was so spot on. We've also taken that and done that at Almanac, one of the things that we get feedback on most often is how great the packages are, like people are getting a box in the mail that was thoughtfully put together. It's not even the product that we sure get plenty of great feedback about that. It's that the box was thoughtfully curated and created and sent to them like a little gift, there's a reason why unboxings are popular, because a thoughtfully boxed product is just as much a gift as the thing that's inside of it. So putting thought into the processes that have you delivering your service or product to that end client or customer is the stuff that great word of mouth marketing is made of.

Kathleen Shannon 31:22
Yeah, and if you are not a maker, or have a tangible product, one thing that I found with consulting is really helpful is putting together a really nice PDF, or even a follow up email with all of the points that you discussed in your consulting or coaching session, that can be a really great way to follow up and deliver something along the way. So I want to talk a little bit about testimonials, because testimonials are an example of word of mouth marketing. So there's the casual testimonial, which is a friend telling another friend about your product or service or offering. But what about the kind of testimonials that you get on let's say Google, or Yelp, or even things that you can share on your own website?

Emily Thompson 32:03
Yeah, getting these testimonials is really important. And it can really be as easy as asking for them. Simply asking for them making the so as you are, like if you are brick and mortar or you have a physical location, you know, having somewhere or telling people review us on Yelp, or know where it is that you want people to leave a review and ask them to do so. Or if it's something that you want to put on your website, you can either take those things from emails, or from social media posts that other people have done about your product or your service. Or you can also ask them in an email. And one of my favorite ways of doing this because everyone's like, you know, I always email for a testimonial and ever get one back. Here's my trick. My trick, especially around service, around services, is to actually pre write a testimonial for your client based on things that you've heard them say. So if you have been having phone calls with them, or if you've been having back and forth email, take some little like, thanks, you've been so great or you know, this process has been so clear and easy or whatever those like little anecdotal things they've said to you put them into a testimonial, send that to them in an email and say, Hey, I wrote this testimonial based on some things that you said, is it okay if I publish this as it is or feel free to tweak as needed? and 95% of the time people write back and say yes, absolutely as is or slight tweaks. So if you struggle with having people actually send you testimonials, make it as easy for them as possible.

Kathleen Shannon 33:32
100% I have also started systemising testimonials. Well I've systemized two things, testimonials and client gifting. So if you remember early, if you've been listening this podcast forever, you might remember an episode in the early early days where I talked about how I don't do client gifting. It was just too hard. I'm focused too much on doing the work. It's probably how you feel about not being a social media marketer, Emily. That's the way that I kind of felt about playing gifting. I'm like, Ugh, I can like hardly remember my mom's birthday, much less sending a gift to a client, right. But I've started systemising it so I use Asana I task everything out. As I'm putting in my Braid Method template for a new client. I add client gifting at the end. I've also partnered with an amazing company where I can just batch the gifting every quarter. That would be Almanac.

Emily Thompson 34:24
That'd be me at Almanac. Right, systems working together to make people happy.

Kathleen Shannon 34:29
But you know, I collaborate with you all and I collaborate with Shop Good in Oklahoma City, sometimes for local clients, I'll even call them up and say, Hey, I have a special client that I want to do something special for. Can you just put together a basket of really cool local things. Here's the vibe, and they will and so there's so many people so many amazingly talented makers, who would love to collaborate with your business and you can do something really special. I just feel like it's easier than ever now. And so I systemize it like I put it in my calendar as a task and a to do. And it reminds me to follow up with the testimonial request, which I also include prompts in my emails to my clients. So I say, here are some prompts to get you started, what made you decide to hire us? What surprised you along the way? What was your favorite part about the process? You know, just things like that. And also focusing on that end product, like, What did you like about the end product, and then we will sometimes edit it or, you know, make it a little bit more concise to put on our website with our portfolio, but then also client gifting I love doing because it reminds your client of you. It reminds you, or it reminds them of the work that you did together. So I'll even do it a couple months after our engagement has ended. Because then they might need to come back for a little bit more work that needs to be done. Or they have friends that have been asking, Oh, where did you get your branding? Like maybe they finally launched and they'll refer you to your friends.

Emily Thompson 35:57
Yes, I think client gifting is one of those things that has that definitely set me apart at Indie early on. So I would started doing client gifting a couple, just a couple years into it. I started sending out yearly gifts, so holiday gifts to everyone that I had worked with that year. And the first time I did it was I don't even remember why did I think I'd like read a blog post somewhere on the internet that was talking about client gifts. And someone had curated this cute little box. And I was like, Oh my god, I want to do that too. So I did it. And the feedback that I got from it was so amazing that I started doing it every year. And then I started doing it for clients whenever it was done. So it wasn't just holiday gifts. And it was definitely part of our thought process behind Almanac because I remember how much of a struggle it was to find quality client gifts, or to have someone partner with me to send them out so that I wasn't having to ship them all out myself. So it's definitely been a part of what we've thought at Almanac because I see how important it is and how impactful it is for those client relationships that you have. And one of my favorite things about doing client gifting and how you can very easily pull some testimonials is that that usually or them receiving a gift usually prompts them to do some short social media sharing, which is how you can use social media as a tool for word of mouth marketing. Not only are they sort of writing you a little letter in that sweet little caption that they do, that you can pull from as a testimonial, but everyone that follows them is seeing that as well. And you can reshare it like it's sort of creates this like beautiful moment of word of mouth marketing just by sending them a thoughtful little gift in the mail.

Emily Thompson 37:37
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Kathleen Shannon 38:53
I want to talk a little bit about referrals. My number one thing about referrals is making it clear and easy for your client to talk about you. And I think that this happens with incredible branding, consistent messaging, and really concise positioning. Again, this is why you have to know what you offer and know what you sell, and be able to talk about it in a way that people can repeat to their friends.

Emily Thompson 39:19
Yes. And asking for referrals is as easy as asking for referrals. Everyone's always like, Well, how do I get referrals like you ask people who have worked with you who you enjoyed working with? If they know anyone who needs what you do? It's as easy as that. So you're writing an email, a thoughtful little email asking if if they know anyone who could work with you, who wants what you sell, or whatever it may be. That's how you get referrals. And I think we're going to talk more about referrals in a moment. But when it comes to actually asking for referrals you just ask for referrals.

Kathleen Shannon 39:55
Yeah, I think it's great to piggyback on testimonials whenever it comes to asking for for referrals, so someone sends you an amazing kind note, you save that as testimonial, you say, Hey, can I use this on my website, can I share this. And then you say, and also, if you know anyone who needs, branding, or whatever it is that you have to offer, keep us in mind, it can be as simple as that,

Emily Thompson 40:19
For sure. And the goal here is that you want to keep yourself top of mind to the people who are working with. So it's telling them next time you see someone who needs me remember me, or getting that client gift in the mail, it's, Hey, remember me in that awesome shit we did together or whatever it is, you want to stay top of mind for them so that whenever opportunities of word of mouth come along, you are the first person they think of.

Kathleen Shannon 40:50
I think also keeping your clients in mind as your offerings shift and change is really important as well. So if you add on to your offering, so let's say you do one on one service, and you're adding an ecourse, let your previous clients know, say, Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I'm now offering an ecourse I know that you've been through my one on one work with me. But if you know anyone who could benefit from you know, an easier entry point to working with me feel free to share my ecourse with them. You know, and it can be also a really great way to get a repeat client. So for example, at Braid Creative, we used to just be one and done Braid Method that was that we didn't do much retainer work. Well, we've expanded our team in a way that we can now accommodate retain our work, we have more designers, we have more staff, we have more account directors and executives who can manage those projects. And so I was even working with a client the other day, a past client through another Braid Method on a different business that they were doing. And they were like, okay, so after I get my files from you, I'm gonna need to find a designer. And I forgot that I hadn't told them that we can do that for them. So this is all just to say lesson learned. Don't forget to tell people who already love you what it is that you do, especially if your offering has changed.

Emily Thompson 42:07
Yes. And that leads me into how word of mouth marketing can be a little bit of a double edged sword. Like I want to touch on this because this is really important.

Kathleen Shannon 42:17
Oh my gosh. So we have had clients who have worked with us and have been so impressed by the end result and the process along the way, that they've emailed all their friends and said, You have to work with Braid. We've had people come to us who say I literally don't know what you do, but so and so told me that I had to work with you. And for lack of better phrasing, it almost felt like a status, like a status symbol thing within this peer of friends.

Emily Thompson 42:44

Kathleen Shannon 42:45
That all ended up hiring us. Like we had to tell people like this is what we do. Is this what you're needing? And they're like, Well, not really. But I really want to work with you. And we've declined referrals, that we're not a good fit based on what we're offering. But the referrals have come to us that we're someone couldn't quite explain what we do, made us one look at our positioning, are we explaining what we do well enough, or at least whenever people talk about us and then their friend goes to our website? Does our website explain enough what it is that we do? But then making sure that no matter how familiar someone might be with our process, taking them through the same onboarding cycle that we would anybody else. I think that this is so important, or even I found that, you know, a lot of creative entrepreneurs who are friends end up hiring each other. And I think that they skimp on the process with their friends. And I don't know if it's because they're embarrassed, or they think that there's a shorthand there. But I don't care how well I know you, you could literally be my brother. And I have taken my brother through the Braid Method process, you're going to get the exact same level of work and onboarding that anybody else does.

Emily Thompson 43:58
Right? Because I think the mistake here is you assuming that they know more about what you do than they actually do. And so you end up skipping some pieces of the process, you get into it, and then they turn into a nightmare client because you didn't tell them what they needed to know to be an amazing client. So I agree, I think, I think actually, I remember very clearly at some point several years ago, you looking at me and going I don't like referrals, like I won't, I don't take them they are not my drink. That may be a little dramatic.

Kathleen Shannon 44:27
There must have been like one traumatic incident because that's not true at all. I mean, really, my whole business is built on referrals.

Emily Thompson 44:33
Well, and but the whole thing was this idea that if you are skimping on that process for people who have come to you from a completely dreamy client, you think oh, they know what I do. They know how I work, they must have like talked all this stuff out, you're making assumptions that stunt the process for them. And you should not do that. If anyone comes to you as a referral even if they are your brother or your best friend or whatever it may be. Take them through the entire process. Your process is there to help you deliver an amazing product or amazing service. And the moment you start skimming on that for anyone is the moment you start giving someone less of a quality experience.

Kathleen Shannon 45:12
I also think that it's a boundary issue whenever you get a referral that isn't super qualified is just having the boundaries to say no. And I think that this might be why referrals, or probably in that one instance, which now I'm, I'm recalling which instance that was. And it was an instance in which I'd worked with an amazing client, she told all of her friends to work with us. And there was one person who didn't need what we had to offer. But I love the person who referred us so much. That I didn't want to let her down by turning her friend down. Does that make sense? For sure. And so I said, I went ahead and took on the client. And yeah, she wasn't super happy, because she didn't need, I don't even think she had a business offering. And what's funny about that is it made me reassess how I qualify anybody, whenever it comes to working with us. And some of that includes, do you have something that you're selling? You would be surprised how many people want branding without having an offering.

Emily Thompson 46:12

Kathleen Shannon 46:12
And there's nothing to brand, if you don't have an offering, there's not a business to brand. And then two hang on, I have it. Come back, have a business to brand. I lost it. Well, I lost my second point. But my, I guess what I really want to say is, you need to qualify a referral, just like you would qualify any like anyone that comes home with a cold, cold lead or otherwise. And this is what a good problem to have if you're having to turn people down for sure.

Emily Thompson 46:47
But it is important to note.

Kathleen Shannon 46:52
Okay, Emily, so you busted out this beautiful color coded spreadsheet. And you had listed even in the spreadsheet some of our roles and duties and our marketing plans and our numbers. And it kind of looked a lot like our CEO Day Kit.

Emily Thompson 47:07
Well you better bet that's exactly where it came from. And it stemmed from me doing some of the exercises in CEO Day Kit, it really spurred me to think about what it is that we wanted to do in our business for the new year, except a little differently. This year, I use those to create some spreadsheets. But it definitely started with the exercises, the worksheets that we include in CEO Day Kit, a tool that we use every year to plan our year ahead. So it really gives us a chance to sit down get really clear on all of our goals on all of our intentions, it helped me think about my word of the year and some of my words of the month coming up. So if you guys want to get aligned and in the know with the nuts and bolts of your business, check out our CEO Day Kit at courses.beingboss.club.

Kathleen Shannon 47:59
Alright, so earlier, we were talking about social media marketing and content marketing. And I do feel that there is an overlap whenever it comes to leveraging word of mouth marketing and that word of mouth experience whenever it comes to your content that you create.

Emily Thompson 48:15
Right. I know, sometimes I feel like I start bashing social media and content marketing and all those things. And I do that because I don't want people to think that that is the only and best way to do things because it is the easiest thing. Social media is easy when compared to building a badass business that people you know, seeing about far and wide. Just writing on an Instagram post that you're amazing is a lot easier than actually being amazing at what you do, right? So I'm not so much bashing those things as I'm trying to make people understand that there are things that come first. So I think having an amazing business, having an amazing process, amazing customer service, amazing product and service, those things are most important. So you can get the great word of mouth marketing so that then you can post it on social media. That's where social media comes in.

Kathleen Shannon 49:13
Right? Because let's say you tell me, this is my thing with internet videos. I won't watch a video that's being shared unless I've seen it maybe four or five times being shared.

Emily Thompson 49:25

Kathleen Shannon 49:26
You know what I mean? Like, the funny video or everyone's talking about that Ellen interview and it's so funny. I won't watch it until probably the fifth person has told me I need to watch it.

Emily Thompson 49:36
All right.

Kathleen Shannon 49:36
I think the same can be true with the frequency and word of mouth marketing is one channel of someone telling you, I think it's a really impactful channel. But then if it's followed up with then also seeing me on Instagram and then seeing me again giving a talk. I might feel like I'm everywhere and then you're like okay, okay, I guess I'll hire her. Do you know I'm saying like, you have to utilize all the channels,

Emily Thompson 50:02
For sure I, many episodes ago, I think I had stated that, you know, it takes, I think five touches for someone to hire you. So what that means is someone you know, someone says something to them in a coffee shop about you, and then maybe they see you on Instagram, and then something flies across their Facebook feed, and then maybe they get an email or like they see three Instagrams from or whatever it is, I think these days, that number is like 12. Like, that number has drastically risen. And so you have to use things like social media and blogging and podcasting and email marketing as a way to get all of those touches that you now need, in order for someone to come actually look at your stuff and buy what it is that you're selling. So it's really important to use your word of mouth marketing, or the testimonials that you get from word of mouth marketing in those places. Because those are really impactful pieces of content that convince people who's getting touched by you that what you're selling is worth their time. Period done.

Kathleen Shannon 51:08
I couldn't agree more. I also really love collecting patterns, and really digging into what it is that people are saying and then using that to create content. So writing a blog article about that experience.

Emily Thompson 51:25
That's next level.

Kathleen Shannon 51:27
Oh, yeah. And so this is an example of how it might work. On my website, I have a branding checklist of all the places that you'll want to implement your brand after your platform is done. And I created this checklist for a client specifically because we had a conversation at the end of one of our meetings about all the things that she'll need to update next. And if she wants to hire me to do those things, and then I thought, you know what, I should just create, I mean, this isn't necessarily word of mouth marketing. It's more just drawing from the customer experience and things, conversations that you actually had to create really authentic content, about the kind of work you're creating in person. And so I created this branding checklist and put it on my website for free for anyone to download. So they can know all the different places that their brand appears. And I've been making sure to do this one of my themes for the year, it's not my word of the year, but my theme of the year in Being Boss and on our Instagram. Are you laughing because those are the same thing?

Emily Thompson 52:31
They are. What? You do. You do.

Kathleen Shannon 52:35
Well, okay, so for example, we're only podcasting once a month, and we're not instagramming as much. And part of that was because I wanted our content to be as honest as possible. I didn't want to batch your content six months in advance, not that our previous content wasn't honest, I just wanted to get more real and in the moment. And so I'm trying to deal with all my content and getting very real about what people are actually saying and creating content around that. Because I think that you can really start to leverage and spark this word of mouth feeling even with people that haven't worked with you yet.

Emily Thompson 53:09
Yes. And I think that's sort of a, sort of a snowball effect that happens with word of mouth marketing, keep going word of mouth, word of mouth marketing.

Kathleen Shannon 53:17
Oh, wait mouth with an s?

Emily Thompson 53:19
No with an f. Yeah, mouf, word of mouf.

Kathleen Shannon 53:23
I like that.

Emily Thompson 53:24
I mean, I'm keeping it.

Emily Thompson 53:25
I'm going to say mouf.

Emily Thompson 53:26
Right? So there's this snowballing effect that happens where you get in, we said in the beginning, you just need one, you just need one amazingly happy client or customer to get this ball rolling. And that turns into a testimonial and or referral, that you can use use some of that language from either of them to come back and create more content that is more aligned with your dream customer, which is brings in more people like it just ends up being this, what is a positive feedback loop of like you getting more and more, and it started with one.

Kathleen Shannon 54:00
I think that this is also a great reminder that how you do anything is how you do everything.

Emily Thompson 54:05

Kathleen Shannon 54:05
And you might be starting off really small and only charging $200 for an entire brand or wedding invitation or whatever it is that you're doing. I'm thinking about my early days of wedding invitations. And I treated it like a big deal. I've always treated all of my jobs like a big deal. And I think that's how I was slowly able to grow over time. Because I kept getting those referrals along the way. How you do anything is how you do everything. So give everything your utmost attention. And if you're feeling spread thin that means you need to cut a few things out. That don't matter.

Emily Thompson 54:44
Yes, because the goal is providing amazingness so that this ball starts rolling for you because once it starts rolling, then all these extra things start making sense. So if you're just starting out and you don't have an amazing onboarding process and you're finished projects, product is kinda eh, you're not honing your craft. The no amount of social media marketing that you do is going to help you. No dollar spent on Facebook ads is going to help you. None of these things are going to be a good use of your time and energy, you have to go back and do those early things of having an amazing process and product to make at some point in the future, those Facebook ads worth it are those Pinterest ads work that or that podcast that you want to launch worth it? Because those are the things that come after having is amazing process is amazing word of mouth marketing. It turns into those things, not the other way around.

Kathleen Shannon 55:40
Yeah. Okay, so let's, let's recap a little bit. Word of mouth marketing is creating raving fans, brand ambassadors who want to talk about what you do and share you with all of their friends. This means that you are delivering a top notch product service or offering and also delighting your client along the way with a streamlined process, or customer service.

Emily Thompson 56:03
Right. And this is the basics. This is what you're setting up in your business first. And once you have these customers or clients done with their purchases, you go to them and you ask for testimonials. And you ask them to refer other people to you who may need what it is that you offer. And listen, listen all along the ways the words that they say to the ways in which they were pleasantly surprised or the unexpected ways that the thing that you offer helps them in their life and work because those are the things that turn into all of that content marketing that we're always talking about, that then works to bring in more people based on some actual real world positive experiences that you've given to people in the world.

Kathleen Shannon 56:49
Yeah, and the good news and bad news here is that you can't force word of mouth marketing. It's all about honing your craft, focusing on what it is that you're doing. Doing it really well and enthusiastically and with passion along the way, because how you do anything is how you do everything.

Emily Thompson 57:12
Thanks for listening. And hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations and more. Go to our website at www.beingboss.club

Kathleen Shannon 57:25
Do the work. Be boss.