As a small business owner, I make a point of checking in with myself every few months to assess what’s working to grow my business and what’s not.
With the lion’s share of attention these days around how to market goods and services going to pull strategies (aka attracting customers to your business through valuable content), the old-fashioned strategy known as word of mouth is all but lost in our digital world.
An interesting thing happened as I looked back at how my business has grown in 2015.
What I discovered was counter intuitive to everything being written about, promoted, flashed, and set to non-intrusive background music on digital platforms around the globe.
What I discovered is this: all my paying customers have come to me this year via word of mouth. Not one client “found” me through Google or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. And it isn’t as if I haven’t been consistently creating and publishing valuable content. Like most businesses today, I am a regular content-creating machine, with blog posts, tweets, inspirational images with quotes, articles, and an ongoing podcast — just to name a few.
While all this content has worked on my behalf in the branding department, and in an ironic way legitimized me as a 21st century business owner, the fact still remains that what has put money in my bank account are people who came into my world from people already in my world. People who know me, know my character, know what I can do, know I make good on my promises and go the extra mile to deliver a superior experience for my clients.
No matter how sophisticated the latest SaaS iteration is of connecting what you sell with your ideal audience, taking a potential customer from cold to paying does not happen because you have a cool landing page or send out a few hashtagged tweets. At the end of the day, business gets done because the relationship feels right. And the only way for the relationship to feel right is to leverage the magical ingredients of trust, consistency, good will, and generosity with the element of time.
The Internet has created an impossible illusion of speed, tricking many a hopeful soul into believing they can change their financial life overnight. While many people have indeed built their business fortunes seemingly fast using digital tools, most (if not all of them) relied on word of mouth referrals at some point along the way to get them there. Only once we accept the truth that business growth is still governed by Nature’s laws and not Technology’s laws can we get to working on what matters most:
Strengthening the relationships with the people we already know, in preparation for the people we have yet to meet.