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There’s an old saying in business and I’m sure you’ve heard it.
“The best form of advertising is word of mouth.”
I tell my friends it’s actually the WORST form of advertising ... and they're shocked.
OK … OK … maybe it’s not the WORST … and its power, of lack thereof, varies from industry to industry.
In residential real estate, it might be useful. And I will often ask a friend or acquaintance for advice about where to buy or get something. The resulting advice is “word of mouth” advertising. This might result in business for a ski shop or wine shop.
I understand all this. And I’m forced to rely on word of mouth as I build a new part-time career as a ski instructor. I hate this. I spent a chunk of time yesterday afternoon handing out business cards in ski shops and in hotels. My hope is that people in these spots will recommend me to clients and guests. It’s the best I can do while I try to figure out how to get a database of prospects. I hope. Direct marketing is NOT about 'hope.'
However, I don’t know a single serious direct marketer who relies on word of mouth. Why? It’s passive … and passive marketing is unreliable PLUS there’s no way to measure its effectiveness. You can’t test word of mouth advertising. It’s HOPING to get business.
Right now, I’m relying on my website and my high SEO ranking to get me the leads that lead to business. It’s powerful and effective.
But there’s an even better way. I’m going to send a newsletter to top direct marketers. That’s a form of direct marketing.
I can’t think of a single referral I’ve received over the last seven years that’s been worth anything. I don’t rely on word of mouth and nor should you. I once had an argument with a famous and accomplished direct response copywriter who disagreed with my notion that word of mouth advertising is unreliable. “Referrals have been great for me,” he said.
But this copywriter is part of a small “inner circle” of super-accomplished direct response copywriters and direct marketers. It’s an elite club and, until I get the invitation to join or I stumble in, I’m not relying on word of mouth.
In fact, I’m even a member of a marketing mastermind group led and organized by a member of this “elite” club. I was hoping I might get some referrals from him. I haven’t received any yet. And I’m not holding my breath. I’m moving on with my direct plan.
I have to admit I like my website ranking and the way my website turns readers into leads. But I can’t rely on a high SEO ranking forever. It’s one reason I’m being more aggressive with my personal marketing … even though I’m not taking on clients right now.
All the best ...
Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter