Why “Word-of-Mouth Advertising” Is a Big, Fat Lie: Part II of II

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By Brandon Lewis

As we discussed last week, no matter what other painting contractors tell you, word-of-mouth is not likely to be your best form of advertising. If you’re not out there actively encouraging past customers to refer your services, then you may as well be sitting in a dark closet praying that the phone will ring.

Last week we discussed two realities for creating referrals in abundance:

  1. If they do not remember you, they cannot refer you.

  2. If they are not asked, they will not refer.

Here are two more strategies you can use to turn your customers into strong sources of referrals.

2 More Realities for Creating Referrals in Abundance

3. If they are not rewarded and recognized, they will refer less often. Reciprocation is a powerful form of influence. Recognition is craved by everyone—no matter the age, sex, or level of accomplishment the individual has achieved.

When you combine rewards and recognition, you have a powerful formula for referral success.

We teach owners to use a done-for-you newsletter for print, email, and social media, in which we feature a section where we recognize those who have referred others in the previous month.

While we give gifts, cash, or certificates to everyone who refers and list them in the newsletter, we take pictures of the owners recognizing the referrers whenever possible, often selecting one of them and further recognizing them as the Customer of the Month.

If you think this is old-fashioned, you’re right. If you think this doesn’t work, you’re dead wrong. Human nature hasn’t changed in 1,000 years, and I don’t see it changing any time soon. People are starving to be rewarded and recognized.

4. If they are not asked consistently, you’ll lose referrals to other painters. Unfortunately, customers refer when they want to and when they have an opportunity, not when you are desperate for leads.

This means that you can’t simply run a “referral promotion” once a year and consider it done. Your past customers are like goldfish—they are forgetting you by the minute.

Inputs equal outputs. If you do not consistently spend time and money on generating referrals, your level of referrals will be sporadic, infrequent, and inadequate. Or, put another way, disappointing. If you want your customers to deliver on referrals, you have to deliver first.

The Bottom Line on Referrals

No owner alive would walk up to a house, wish it painted, walk away, and then be surprised that the house didn’t “paint itself.”

Yet, for some reason, when we fail to learn how to generate referrals, we are surprised we do not get more of them. When we fail to invest time and money in referral programs, we are shocked that our phones ring off the hook one week, but are dead-silent the next two weeks.

Are you neglecting your “word-of-mouth” advertising duties? If so, do something about it!

Brandon Lewis is the founder and mentor-in-chief at the Academy for Professional Painting Contractors, where he teaches owners how to generate an abundance of repeat and referral sales. For a free CD, report, and video training series on generating word-of-mouth referrals, visit www.PaintersAcademy.com or call 423-800-0520.

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