Engage Your Staff in The Word of Mouth Process
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Sorting Out Who's Who - By Ivan R. Misner
From time-to-time, business owners ask me how to get their staff members to buy into word-of-mouth marketing as a way to grow their business. I find that many times business owners don’t even consider asking their staff to cultivate strong word of mouth for the company.
Here are some tips on how to engage your staff in word-of-mouth marketing:
First of all, include word-of-mouth marketing/bringing referrals in the job description for each and every employee. Often, if the new hire knows up front that it he expected to incorporate word-of-mouth marketing into his job, it will happen!
Be clear and reasonable with your expectations. If you have a manufacturing company for a very obscure product, you might not be able to have your staff bringing in tons of referrals. I, however, did run into a man as a guest in one of my networking groups who worked for a company selling a very specific type of fluorescent bulb. I actually advised him AGAINST joining BNI. He politely objected to my objection and went on to become salesman of the year and won a trip to the Caribbean!!
Each staff member has the potential to bring referrals to your company. If they don’t know that it is something that is expected of them to do, they just might not think about it! This point dovetails into the second point below.
Secondly, teach your staff how to develop word of mouth effectively for the company. Hold focus group meetings where you role-play ways to ask for referrals from other customers, friends and family. Bring in local word-of-mouth marketing experts for in-house trainings. Better yet, send your staff to a word-of-mouth marketing class, such as the Referral Institute trainings, available in most markets.
If you belong to a weekly word-of-mouth marketing group, bring your staff to those meetings one at a time, so that each member of your team can see what word of mouth can produce! This also helps your word-of-mouth marketing partners feel they know your business better, since they’ve been able to meet the people in your company.
My observations have caused me to conclude that, until you teach someone how to do something effectively, expecting them to do it well, or even at all, is foolish!
Thirdly, motivate your staff to bring referrals to the company. My wife once worked for a small business owner who incorporated monetary bonuses into her word-of-mouth marketing expectations. For every new customer, she was given a bonus. This was a real win-win arrangement for the company, as each new customer brought in revenue well above the bonus amount and my wife felt rewarded each time one of her referrals came through the door!
Be sure you check with your CPA or tax preparer to properly execute this procedure. Having a bonus system in place made it obvious that she would be attending the chamber meetings with the boss and developing other connections in the community while passing out lots and lots of business cards and fliers for the company.
You might even establish a “word-of-mouth marketer of the month” status for the staff, with a reserved parking spot, or an overnight hotel stay somewhere fun for that employee. Make the motivation something that is relevant to your industry and, most of all, exciting to your staff!
Finally, be sure that your staff sees you practicing your word of mouth skills. Often business owners don’t share with our staff the amount of time and energy we put into building and maintaining our businesses utilizing word-of-mouth marketing. In his book, Inside the Magic Kingdom, Tom Connelly writes about “walking the walk.” I have always felt very strongly about this point. If I am going to expect my staff to do something, motivate and reward them for doing it, I better let them see me doing it as well! Too often, word of mouth is something done “behind the scenes” and not necessarily in front of the staff.
One way to change this to track monthly how much business you also brought in…along with the staff’s numbers. Imagine the pride that one competitive staff member will have when he or she breaks your number; imagine the profits your company will realize from having this type of focus on growing the business from everyone!
Called the father of modern networking, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author and Founder of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His latest book, Truth or Delusion can be viewed at www.TruthorDelusion.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com). He can be reached at email@example.com .
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Sorting Out Who's Who - By Ivan R. Misner
About the Author: Ivan R. Misner
RSS for Ivan's articles - Visit Ivan's website
Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder & Chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization. BNI was founded in 1985. The organization has over 5,800 chapters throughout every populated continent of the world. Last year alone, BNI generated 6.5 million referrals resulting in $2.8 billion dollars worth of business for its members.
Called the "Father of Modern Networking" by CNN and the "Networking Guru" by Entrepreneur magazine, Dr. Misner is considered one of the world's leading experts on business networking and has been a keynote speaker for major corporations and associations throughout the world. He has been featured in the L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times, as well as numerous TV and radio shows including CNN, CNBC, and the BBC in London.
Dr. Misner is on the Board of Trustees for the University of La Verne. He is also the Founder of the BNI-Misner Foundation and was recently named "Humanitarian of the Year" by a Southern California newspaper. He is married and lives with his wife Elisabeth and their three children in Claremont, CA. In his spare time!!! he is also an amateur magician and a black belt in karate.
Click here to visit Ivan's website.
More from Ivan R. Misner
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