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Explore the power of Word of Mouth, Read more…

I speak to tradesman and SME’s on a daily basis about how busy (or not) they may be.
The conversation usually goes like this:
‘So, you busy?’
‘We are now’
‘oh, so not been so good recently then?’
‘No, but things have picked up a bit lately…’
‘So how do you normally get your business?’
‘Word of mouth’….frequently adding…. ‘that’s what we’ve always done, for’… 15/20/100 years etc etc.’

At indemandonline we know a lot about ‘Word Of Mouth’
‘Word of Mouth marketing’ is defined as ‘Oral or written recommendation by a satisfied customer to the prospective customers of a good or service’. I built two businesses on Word of Mouth alone with no paid advertising whatsoever over 25 years. It’s often considered to be the most effective form of promotion, to all intents and purposes it’s FREE, and its many SMALL BUSINESSES only form of marketing, even in these days of the INTERNET.

So what is a ‘Small Business’? Take a look at the FSB’s page on UK Small Business Statistics.
Briefly, there are 5.17 million private sector businesses in then UK, but get this…..only 1.3 million are ‘employing businesses’ which means that 76% (4.3 million) employed no-one at all apart from the owner aka ‘one man bands’.

For many one man/one woman businesses, if you ain’t working you ain’t earning. So you’ll need to be very certain that lead generation is pretty much top of the list, to ensure continuity of work and positive cash-flow. Not a week goes by now without news of another casualty in the High Street. Only yesterday we were told Debenhams is next on the list, while John Lewis have just reported a plunge of 99% in profits for the first half of 2018 down to a measly 1.2 million. These are businesses that have shunned the trend towards online shopping, or in the case of Debenhams done too little too late. These behemoths haven’t grasped ‘change’ or more realistically, the ‘pace of change’ nor taken adequate steps to mitigate against them, hence their FAILURE. As a small business you should learn lessons from these people. Successful entrepreneurs tell you that there’s really no difference in running a small business to running a large one, it’s just a question of scale.

Traditional methods of promotion like Word Of Mouth are still valid, however.  SME’s must realise that it’s the method of delivery that’s changing. FAST. As we all age, Millennials are emerging as the biggest purchasing group out there, and their ways of evaluating a service or product is very different to their Gen-X parents. Brought up on mobile phones and Google, their first port of call is not ‘Word Of Mouth’ from some-one down the pub or even close family…(nowadays families are fragmented though some ethnic groups still hold on to Word of Mouth infographic‘extended family values’ notably the Asian community), no, for Millennials the first place to check out a company’s credentials is the internet for Word of Mouth in the form of REVIEWS. And there’s more, and coming to, or already in a home near you… Voice Search. Yep, voice search is gaining traction, QUICKLY, lending new meaning to the power of ‘WORD OF MOUTH’.

Here at indemandonline, we completely ‘get’ the tradesman or small biz who’s survived for decades using traditional Word Of Mouth and who wants no truck with the internet and all its [perceived] hassles. However, even with Services, you’ll find, like the guys I first talked about, increasing numbers of days throughout the year, where you’re ‘between jobs’ or ‘a bit short of work’ due to ‘the phone not ringing’. Add Brexit chaos to the equation and it’s more or less GUARANTEED, because uncertainty inevitably means ‘would be’ customers holding back.

Let’s look at a small business turning over £200,000 with a net profitability of 20% working 50 weeks of the year. A day a month idle or a couple of 3-4 day periods off ‘between jobs’ equates to between 8 and 12 days down. No big deal you might say, however, 8 days off means 3.2% of the working year, 12 days makes nearly 5%. With a net profitability of 20% you’ll be down by between £1280 and £1920. Throw in a bit of bad weather and that figure could easily double or worse, and mean the difference between taking a holiday or not, having to wait another year before replacing a van perhaps…any number of things; It’s the thin end of the wedge. So don’t risk it. Experienced business managers know that even with a full order book, you DON’T STOP ACTIVELY PROMOTING or ADVERTISING…..its the only way to maintain stability and to even out workflow.

Today’s Millennial audience has little faith in advertising, preferring to place all their trust in REVIEWS. They blindly believe everything they read on review sites, but I’m here to tell you that many such sites will only publish the good reviews; they are after member subscriptions, so they don’t want to lose traders by publishing too many scathing reviews. I myself was stung by a well known National Trade Checking site (their HQ as it happens is here in the North East); a local painter and decorator trashed my home while I’d left him to carry out work while away on a business trip. I submitted a detailed report with photographs to the check site even inviting them to inspect the damage; they refused to investigate the matter or to publish my report. The point I’m making is that these sites are perceived by ever growing numbers to be King when it comes to choosing a service supplier or retail product. True, you can join such a site and be alongside hundreds of others competing in the same trade OR you can choose to build or commission your own website, and appoint an independent review board such as Trust Pilot to manage your testimonials. You could even point out that you don’t trust Review Sites giving reasons why, and instead send potential new clients to see REAL CUSTOMERS via the use of Image Galleries & Social Media post, but one thing’s certain, without an online presence you’re going to find it tougher and tougher to be heard.

Word of Mouth 2018 equals Reviews and Voice Search, Don’t be a dinosaur and risk extinction, think online, get online, stay online, the FUTURE IS NOW.