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Use Your Neighbors and Partners to Build Your List

From the WikiPedia: Referral marketing is a structured and systematic process that maximizes word of mouth potential. Referral marketing does this by encouraging, informing, promoting and rewarding customers and contacts to think and talk as much as possible about their supplier, their company, product and service and the value and benefit the supplier brings to them and people they know.

So referral marketing is really all about relationships you foster with people, and how those people remember you when they talk to anyone that might need your products or services. If you’ve got a storefront or business that serves a certain location (even if you don’t, read on this applies to you as well), your number one goal is to get traffic to that location, right? And hopefully you’ve built good relationships with the business owners around you, or are willing to. So today, I’m going to talk about how your neighboring businesses can use their email list to refer business to you, and how you can do the same for them.

Here is a great example of how 4 local businesses can collectively refer customers to each other:

You have a retail business in a neighborhood where there are other retailers, service businesses or restaurants where people visit. In this case a restaurant called Nova Bar.

The product or service that you sell has complementary (maybe even competitive) products offered by other businesses in the area. In this example this particular restaurant also included another restaurant in their email campaign. You can’t eat at the same restaurant every day, right?

You’ve been collecting email addresses and communicating to your recipients on a regular basis.

Here’s one way to make it happen:


Step 1. Approach your neighboring businesses and tell them that you’ve got an idea that will collectively help all of you get more business.

Step 2. Find out how many email addresses each business has. You’ll want them to be close to the same because if one is 10x bigger than the others everyone else will benefit from the big guy but they might not benefit in the same way. That said, if this does happen, maybe the businesses with smaller lists can make up for it by mailing a few more times.

Step 3. Create separate email campaigns where the FROM LABEL is from each list owner. If you are doing the mailing to your list it should come FROM your business, if your neighbor is doing the mailing to her list it should come FROM her business.

Step 4. Your message should include a paragraph explaining why you’re sending this email. For example:

“The merchants of South Beach all got together and decided that you need to know about everything that’s going on. So opt-in to all of these lists and be the first to know.

Try giving an incentive or coupon to any new people who signed up to each list to motivate them even more to join!

Step 5. In this example you can see that there are links to each of the business’s opt-in forms. Avoid sending them directly to a home page unless the opt-in form is easy to spot. Make sure you also tell your recipients what new registrants can expect, like weekly specials or “email only” discounts. Also include an image or logo for each business.

Other ideas for using email marketing as a referral tool:

  • If you don’t want to use this as a “list building” tool and each local business just wants to give a great offer, go for it! Make sure you send them directly to a page where the offer is displayed prominently.
  • If you’re business isn’t “locally oriented” but you have complementary business partners, you can still follow the same general steps. Partner up with them and send emails to your respective email lists about your partners, ask them to do the same.
  • You can also use the page that you send people after they opt-in to your list, and include your partners/neighbors offers or links, and they can do the same for you.

Bottom line: keep each other honest. Join each other’s lists and make sure all of you are participating. Agreeing to help businesses build their lists is going to help traffic to everyone’s business. And that’s what referral marketing is all about in the long run.

Janine Popick is the CEO and co-founder of VerticalResponse (Inc. 5000 2006-2009). She also is VerticalResponse’s CEB (Chief Executive Blogger) and won the 2006 ClickZ Best Marketing Blog Award, the 2007 Stevie Award for Best Blog, a 2008 SIIA Codie Finalist for best blog and 2009 Stevie Finalist for Best Blog.

What is Make A Referral Monday?

Last week’s Make a Referral Week, an event designed to generate over 1000 referrals for 1000 small businesses, was a big success in terms of bringing a focus on the act of making referrals, but why stop at a week. Making referrals is a great practice all year long.

make a referral monday on TwitterPlease join me in kicking off something I call Make a Referral Monday. The idea is to bring the practice of making referrals into focus every week, all year long.

One of the ways to keep this idea alive and top of mind is to use the awesome reach of Twitter as a weekly reminder and accountability tool. If you participate on Twitter you are probably aware of something called Follow Friday. Follow Friday asks folks to share the names of people on Twitter that they like to follow, with the idea that other might as well. Follow Friday participants use what’s called a hashtag to designate their Follow Friday listing – #FF (More on Twitter hashtag use here)

To participate in Make a Referral Monday (#marm) I would like ask you to a) make a referral and b) tell the Twitter world about it using #marm as a hashtag each and every Monday. Something like: I just referred @AcmePrinting to my BFFs at @ZetaGraphics both do awesome work #marm

I think we have the ability to create a bit of a movement out of the act of making referrals. Spread the word, retweet this post and make those referrals!

How to Boost Your Customer Referrals in 7 Simple Steps

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Customer referrals really rock as a cost-effective way to gain new business and regain old customers. But how do you generate more referrals…higher quality referrals? And how can you squeeze more mileage out of the referrals that you’ve got?

The folks who run my fitness club are masters at referral marketing. They’re constantly running a promotion for referring new members with discounts, free training or free stuff. Whether I’m walking in the door, opening my mail or looking online, I’m barraged with signs, banners, stickers and mailers encouraging referrals with free passes, discounts, goodies and even cash.

We all know the magic of referrals, which offer instant credibility. So why don’t more small business owners use referrals effectively? Mainly because it’s harder than it looks. For one thing, referrals come in different forms and flavors. If someone merely provides you a name and email address, that’s low-grade referral. But if a customer actively talks up your product or service, sets up a meeting or brings the prospect in the door, that’s a Grade A referral.

At www.business.com we see big companies taking customer referrals very seriously. Many have turned it into a science of modeling, calculating and tracking a Net Promoter Score (NPS). At its most basic, the NPS attempts to measure how likely it is that a customer would recommend a business, product or service to a friend or colleague.

“Promoters” are your most loyally enthusiastic customers – the regulars who also refer others to help fuel your business growth. “Passives” are happy, but not enthusiastic and are easily attracted to a better deal elsewhere. “Detractors” are unhappy customers who can hurt your sales with negative word-of-mouth. The NPS is determined by taking the percentage of customers who are promoters and subtracting the percentage who are detractors. An equal amount of each gets you an NPS of zero.

Here are seven steps to getting more and better referrals, and raising your net promoter score:

Step 1 – Create a referral-generation plan: Referrals are not automatic. Some “just happen,” but most occur because you do something to trigger it. Some business owners assume that a great product or terrific customer service will generate referrals by default. Not so. You have to learn to ask, and make sure employees are on board as well. Most customers are open to being asked for referrals. Some even appreciate the opportunity to tell friends, family and associates about something good they’ve discovered.

Referral tip: The worst time to ask for a referral is at the cash register or when you present a bill. Look for opportunities earlier or later in the process when customers are more receptive.

Step 2 – Provide support: Don’t ask customers to recommend you to others without offering them some backup. It can be as simple as a supply of your business cards, or a link to a special page on your website. Or it could be a brochure, your latest newsletter or some other type of printed material that describes what you do and can reinforce the referral.

Step 3 – Offer incentives: But incentives can be tricky. The type of incentive you offer must fit with the kind of business you run. It could be a discount, service credits, an upgrade, a free item or some other trigger that will entice clients to provide referrals. Don’t be afraid to test offers to find out what works best. Communicate details of your referral program to your best customers through whatever means you have available, including a blog, newsletter, email or customer mailings. And be sure to thank customers when they make referrals.

Step 4 – Ask for the right information: Getting a name and number isn’t really a referral at all. It’s just a lead. Use a referral form, checklist or web-based system to capture details that will make the referral more valuable. The best referrals are where a customer actually facilitates a meeting, visit or purchase by the referred person, in person, by email or otherwise. This makes the customer an active agent on your behalf.

Step 5 – Target your most influential customers: Seek referrals first from your most influential customers, especially if your resources are limited. These might not actually be your best customers, but they are the people whose opinions would carry the most weight with others in your industry, community or customer base. By targeting these customers, you have a highly focused effort with a good chance to generate the highest quality referrals.

Step 6 – Target related businesses: The health care profession is one of the most adept at fostering referrals between complementary disciplines – specialists, imaging services, physical therapists, medical equipment suppliers and others. Consider the same strategy yourself. Contact businesses that provide complementary services to your own and ask for referrals.

Step 7 – Build your relationships: This takes time, but it’s critical because many of your most influential customers won’t provide referrals until you gain their complete trust. You’ll want to treat each customer contact as if it’s critical to your next referral. Through each sales, marketing or customer service “touch” you are building a foundation of trust that that will one day lead to a valuable referral.

Daniel Kehrer is Editor and Director of Content Development for Business.com, the world’s leading B2B search engine and knowledge site, and writes the What Works for Business blog on Business.com

Is It Time To Practice a Little Selfish Networking

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

You know him. He’s the perfect networker. He’s at every event. He’s a brilliant conversationalist. He’d give you the shirt off his back. He follows up. He keeps his commitments. He’s always happy to make an introduction.

And yet he’s always broke. He drinks water at every event. He skips the meal if that’s an option. He’ll spend hours on Twitter doing essentially nothing, but won’t spend $50 for a tool that will actually help his business. There’s always a hint of desperation hidden in his voice (or his blog posts) because his business really isn’t doing that well.

He’s drunk the networking & social media Kool-Aid. It’s a poison, and if you’re not careful, you might easily fall victim to it too.

Networking is fun. Furthermore, there’s generally no rejection in networking. People can succeed at networking even if they’re not succeeding in their business. And if you’re any good at it at all, occasionally it will work and actually generate you some business. “See? Networking works!” That becomes a validation of whatever you’ve been doing. It doesn’t matter that if you did things a little differently, you could have had ten times the results with the same amount of effort – what you’re doing “works”.

It’s an addiction. And it’s an insidious one at that. Why? Because…

More networking is not necessarily a good thing.

First off, it can pull your attention and financial resources away from other, more important things. Secondly, more networking means more exposure of anything in your business or relationship management practices that’s not absolutely rock solid.

Now I know you’ve all heard that “givers gain” – that you should give first in a networking context, without thinking about what’s in it for you.

I’m not going to disagree with that…I’m going to qualify that, and I’m going to tell you that…

It’s OK to be selfish sometimes when it comes to networking, or at least to appear that way.

Let’s look at a few facts:

· In order to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. On a plane, they tell you to put your mask on first – you can’t help your child if you’re unconscious. The more resources you have at your disposal – money, time, connections, etc. – the better you can be of service to the people you know. “Love your neighbor as yourself” requires you to first love yourself. Perhaps spend less time networking and more time becoming someone that people would want to network with.

· Time is a zero-sum game. 24 hours, 7 days…that’s it…same as everybody else. An hour you’re spending networking is an hour you’re not spending with your current clients, your employees, your close friends, your family, or personal development. Sure, networking is rewarding, but really think about this when you consider attending a particular event or whether to spend an hour on Facebook – is it more rewarding in the long run than all of the other things you could be doing with your time? You can’t help everybody.

· Your networking contacts are not the most important people in your life or your business, even for referrals. Who really gives you the most referrals (or at least the best ones)? New networking contacts? Or your current happy customers? If it’s not your current customers, “you’re doing it wrong.” The single most important thing you can do to drive referrals is to make sure your current customers are not just satisfied, but RAVING FANS. And your employees are what make your business possible. In most cases, clients are more easily replaced than good employees. And your family and close friends? They’re what make it all worthwhile. Don’t ever sacrifice those relationships on the altar of networking.

· If your business isn’t solid, your network is a house of cards. More exposure means exposing the weaknesses as well as the strengths. If you’re stretched so thin that you can’t even begin to keep up with all the little commitments you make — “Sure , I’ll get that over to you” or that stack of “let’s talk next month” people – then why are you spending your time meeting a lot of new people? Do you really think all those new people will create more value for you (or that you’ll be able to create value for them) greater than those opportunities that are already in front of you? I’ll be the first to admit – I’m terrible about this. I get massively over-extended, because I have a really hard time saying “no” to people. That’s why I frequently disappear from social media for days or even weeks at a time – I’m taking care of business that’s more important.

· People who don’t understand the items above are not your friends. If a networking contact can’t understand that in the event of a commitment conflict, you’re going to take care of your customer over them, do really even want them as a customer?

Now I’m not suggesting that people start thinking “what’s in it for me” about every interaction. What I am saying is that you need to be selective with your time. You are going to have to make some choices. And sometimes the choices suck.

Once I was scheduled to do a teleclass and cancelled the day of the event. There were a couple of hundred people registered and a very good networking contact of mine had arranged for the event. I knew it would damage my reputation to cancel and put a dent in my relationship with the friend who set it up.

Why did I cancel? Because a client of mine had a meeting for a $2 million funding deal the next day, and we weren’t done with the presentation and prospectus. Taking even a couple of hours out for the teleclass could have meant a botched meeting for him. Maybe not, but I also had to be able to give reasonable notice to the teleclass organizer and attendees, so I made the call.

Sure…in hindsight, I didn’t plan it all well. But as of the morning of the event, I had to make a very difficult decision. If I had it to do over again, I’d make the same decision. I’d risk my reputation with a couple of hundred people I don’t know and have never worked with to make sure that my current client knew I would do whatever it takes to keep the commitment I made to them.

So go ahead…put yourself first. Take care of your business. Develop yourself. Stay healthy. Spend time with your friends and family. Put your customers ahead of your networking contacts.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “What’s in it for me?” about your overall networking activities. If you’re not getting the returns you want, maybe it’s time to push away from the networking buffet table, go on a networking diet, and spend more time getting your business into shape.

A 20-year veteran technology entrepreneur, executive and consultant, Scott Allen is the Entrepreneurs Guide for About.com, one of the top ten websites in the world with over 37 million readers, and a subsidiary of the New York Times. He is also the coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, published by the American Management Association.

How to Build Referrals and Become a Nationally Known Speaker

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Have a Presence

The first step in becoming a paid speaker is to position yourself so that you can provide value. Your product is what you say, so if you communicate intelligent things online you are on the right track. Twitter, blogs, online video and podcasts are great platforms to express your message to the world. This gives potential clients an excellent place to get a free sneak preview of what you can provide. Video works great because the audience actually feels like they get to know you.

Your website should say exactly what you stand for and what you can provide for an audience, it should scream “John Jantsch is awesome!” but not “I am so awesome! I’m god’s greatest gift to earth!” Nobody likes someone who over hypes him/herself. The proof is in the pudding, so let your work speak for itself; that’s why content in the form of text, video or audio works so well.

It is incredible how many referrals you can attract by simply having a presence. Online, all people need to do is make a quick introduction on Twitter and potential clients will start checking out your content. Referrals are so powerful because they are often done by trusted friends–when a friend directs someone to quality content of yours, it doubles the impact.

Build your Bio

Your bio should solidify your credibility. If it’s not up to par yet, check out these 59 Ways to Grow Your Credibility. Bio’s need to be short and to the point. Often times they are read for your introduction so don’t just rattle off all your fancy degrees and awards, make it sound like you are a real person. Adding humor is a major bonus, as most intros are incredibly bland and boring. Your bio is just as important as a resume and if you aren’t comfortable writing your own bio, have a friend write it for you.

Adding in your biggest press mentions is critical in growing that credibility. As soon as your potential client or audience hears “Whoa he’s been in BusinessWeek?”, they start to pay attention.

Have a Speaking Tab on your website

Here is where your bio, headshot, testimonials, speaking resume, highlight reel and description of your value driven talk go. This should be very obviously placed on your site and linked with your about page. Now, when people find your site and want to learn more about you, they’ll automatically know you are a speaker and learn more than they ever wanted to know about you.

Don’t forget to include your email address or booking agent’s contact information so they can get in contact with you.

Often times referrals in the speaking industry come from people who say “I just heard John Janstch speak, he was awesome”. They might not actually know John well enough to put you in contact with him, so you’ll have to be found on Google. Reaching your homepage or your speaking tab is what will get the referral in the door. You might not ever hear where the referral was generated, so make sure you make it as easy as possible for them to find you.

Have a hook

If you ever wanted to get paid to speak again, you’ll need to have a point to your talk. Reel them in early with some thought provoking ideas, maybe a joke or exercise to get everyone involved. Your first minute of your talk is where the audience passes judgment so get them on your team early and let them know what they are going to get out of your performance because they are probably already wondering “why am I here.”

Your talk should do two things: 1. Teach the audience something 2. Tell your story in a way your audience can relate.

How do conversations spark in the world of speaking referrals? “Matt Wilson used this awesome example about G-String businesses 2 minutes into his talk.” If people don’t remember what you talked about it, they won’t spread the word for you. Have something that hooks them in and keeps them thinking about it days after the talk. The 1-2 week period is when most word of mouth referrals will happen.

Start Small

Don’t expect to get paid right off the bat if you’ve never spoken anywhere before, so start off small. Local high schools, colleges and organizations are always looking for some inspiration. Call them and get your foot in the door. Search meetup.com and call the president of these groups, they are always looking for a way to fill meetings. If you have something to teach others, schedule a seminar with a local library or chamber of commerce. Not only is it a great way to build your resume, but it’s also a fantastic way to network. Have plenty of business cards on hand.

It is in your community where you are going to start to form relationships that lead to referrals. Small business referrals start by having your go-to accountant, lawyer, real estate broker, etc. and drive them business. If they saw you speak at the Chamber of Commerce, why wouldn’t they want to bring you in to the local Toastmasters group?

Ask to get paid

Josh Shipp of HeyJosh.com says, “How did I make the leap from non-paid to paid? Watch: I asked to be paid. At first $500. Then $1,000. Then $2,500. Now $5,000.
If you’re good at what you do, you’ll find the more you charge the more demand you’re in and the better clients you’ll get. You get what you charge for.”

Referrals come by truly helping other people. If you deliver on content, inspire them and give them value to take home, then people will not only be happy to pay you, but happy to refer you to others.

Build Testimonials

Your speaking resume, should include links to any press from the event. This provides instant credibility to say you rocked out on the big stage. Testimonials are literally referrals in written or video form. They are recommendations that you can use anywhere. When you put them online they have the power for millions to view which grows trust with every one of your potential clients.

Collect videos from your talks as people are walking out or come up to you after and favorite every nice thing people say about me on Twitter and link it up!

Creating a highlight reel builds both social proof and your expertise, by showing a mix of positive reactions in a live setting and clips of you on stage. The people who speak positively are literally making their referral to the whole world.

Have an Agent or Bureau

If you are looking for more speaker referrals, it helps if you are paying someone a referral fee to connect you with more engagements. Bureaus and agents typically work on a percentage basis of everything they book for you, leaving very little risk or upfront investment on your part. These are the people with connections to shop you around, so why not give them a referral fee?

Start Hustling

Want to do it on your own? It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get people to refer you. Start asking people who compliment you who they know; these people often know tons of people in their industry that would also benefit from hearing your talk. Ask them who they know and be upfront about it. You just helped them by delivering massive value with a great performance and you are looking to help more people in your niche. If they refer you to someone else and you are a rock star, it’ll be huge benefit to them too!

Referrals all come down to over delivering with your service and wow-ing your audience enough to start some chatter. Word of mouth really works!

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO.com urging people to drop the 9-5 and get passionate about something. Follow him on Twitter @MattWilsontv as the Gen-Y spokesperson looking to help every young entrepreneur on the planet.

6 Ways to be More Referable than Edward Scissorhands at a Lawn & Garden Convention

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

1. Circumvent people’s suspicions. Recognize that you’re beginning with negative balance with most people. Sad but true. It’s just the posture of the masses. People have been sold, scammed and screwed; conned, played and hustled; manipulated, used and marketed to for too long and their TIRED of it.

Your mission is to exert comfortable confidence. To lower the threat level. To prove to people that they aren’t going to be the first person to trust you. Otherwise they’ll show up plagued by an underlying unease. And that’s a brick wall you don’t have the time, energy or equipment to climb. How will you disarm people’s immediate preoccupations before entering your orbit?

2. Resort (not) to artificiality. People who do come off like terminal try-hards. And their gnawing sense of inferiority fills the room like a garlic fart. Not exactly the type of orbit admirers are drawn into.

The secret is making the conscious choice to reassemble your posture. To assume a different pose. And to stand up in front of the world and put yourself at risk. That’s what authenticity is all about: Flirting with the possibility of people not liking who you are, accepting the reality when they don’t.

As I learned from The Velveteen Rabbit, “Once you are real, you can’t be ugly – except to people who don’t understand.” How will you authentically extend yourself this week?

3. Be a source of infinite opportunity. “Become a platform.” Those three words alone were worth paying twenty bucks for Jeff Jarvis’s bestselling What Would Google Do? Here’s how it works: You give customers, users and fans the control to create and improve your online content. You aggregate information and services.

Then, you enable your admirers to build communities, networks – even products and businesses – of their own, under the umbrella of your platform. Think Twitter. Think Facebook. Think Linked In. All platforms. All raking it in. Lesson learned: When you make a platform, you make an indispensible contribution. What are YOU a platform for?

4. Jump at every chance to declare the unspoken truth. Follow the advice of Dilbert creator Scott Adams: “Be completely and radically honest where most people would say nothing.” Simple, yes. Easy, no. The secret is to plant the seeds of love where fear grows.

In my experience, here’s the best practice for doing so: Speak the unspeakables to compel people to think the unthinkables so they’re disturbed into doing the undoables. How are you branding your honesty?

5. Increase your agency. I love this concept. Just learned it myself a few weeks ago. Increase your agency. Now, it’s got nothing to do with the FBI or Leo Burnett. Agency is about the state of being necessary for exerting power. The cool part is, agency is relative. It all depends on where your power generator resides.

HOW to specifically increase your agency is up to you. The only advice I can offer to support your process is: Don’t make despair your default setting. It’s timelessly unattractive and will slowly nibble your power away like a school of baby piranhas. Where are you unintentionally giving your power away?

6. Be willing to be crucified. I think it’s fair to say that Jesus Christ had a knack for drawing admirers into his orbit. And, among his long list of approachable attributes, I think it’s also fair to say that his willingness to be crucified – literally – served his purpose well.

Now, the odds of you, as a Thought Leader, being nailed to an actual cross and left for dead are highly unlikely. (Then again, I don’t know you that well.) The point is: Crucifixion isn’t about wood and nails – it’s about criticism and persecution. It’s about passion, which comes from the Latin passio, which means, “to suffer.”

The two-fold question is: What do you do that you are willing to suffer for? And what do you do that – if you did NOT do it – would cause you suffering as a result? Find the answers to those questions and you’ll find admirers drawing into your orbit immediately. No messianic complex needed. Have you taken up your cross today?

Scott Ginsberg is the only person in the world who wears a nametag 24-7-365 to encourage people to become friendlier and more approachable. He is the author of four books including “HELLO, my name is Scott,” “The Power of Approachability,” “How To Be That Guy” and “Make a Name for Yourself.”

Ring-Ring: This is WOM calling: Are You Listening?

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Women control more than 85% of the spending in the U.S. We’re your market. When it comes to referring you via word of mouth, we dominate the marketplace. We buy trucks, tires, laptops, gardening tools, houses, toys, perfume, and everything else under the sun. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if we don’t buy it, we know someone who does. If you want us to promote you via word of mouth, you need remember just one thing: it’s not about you — its about us (it’s really about me – and if you can grasp the nuances of that – me vs. us – you have a big jump on your competition!).

Let’s get real about word of mouth, fondly referred to as WOM, these days. In the latter 20th century kids ran around chanting, “Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-girl.” Today they’d be chanting, “Telephone, telegraph, tell a blogger.” It’s a fact that blogging and tweeting has extended word of mouth exponentially. It’s also a fact that women dominate both – we’re still the big talkers of the world.

If you’re hankering for real word of mouth, how do you get it? Do you hop on your blog and blog about your latest/greatest? Do you start a twitter account with a bit.ly link to your content? Are you marketing to a demographic? Touting “your stuff” is so old school. Women will burn you if you market to them as a “demographic” or a “target market.” As the latest Merck diabetes commercial tells us so well, we’re people, not statistics. No matter what you sell, grasp this fact: word of mouth begins with the client, no matter who she is.

I don’t really care what you do, who you are, or even who you know. Because it’s just not about you. It’s about me. It’s so much about me that you’ll find me tweeting about it, texting about it, blogging about it! When I make a recommendation, other women stop and listen. That’s partly because I’ve worked hard to establish my focus on marketing to women, but the reality is – I’ve worked even harder to connect with women, to promote them in their business and personal endeavors, and to provide a sounding board when needed. We talk pets, kids, husbands, boy friends, financial planning, conferences, healthcare, the Superbowl, HGTV, you name it.

We spread WOM with every breath! Because we can, not because we need to.

So, if you want great WOM, ask women questions about their lives. Ask for their opinions. Don’t cover or hide your flaws– because your women clients are not going to be shy about pointing them out and if you get defensive – we’ll move on. Use your profile to tell us who you are and what you sell. Use your blog and twitter page to help us solve problems (time crunching is huge, right now), and to engage us in dialogue about our lives, not about your products/services. Tweet about local women’s events and/or organizations. Tweet about us – retweet about us. Tell us why we’re important to you. Share stories about your pets – surprise us with your softer side. Bissell with its recently launched Pack of Pet Lovers is doing a fabulous job with this. Mimic their success.

Us, us, us…not you, you, you! That’s what generates word of mouth referrals. Short story: in the last four years of writing my Lip-sticking blog I’ve met dozens of smart and talented women. The ones who refer me to colleagues and prospects are the ones I’ve supported over the years, without expectation. I can’t wait to talk about them, and vice-versa. The mutual-admiration society we’ve formed helps both of us. It’s word of mouth at its most powerful.

Word of mouth drives a lot of conversation between women. Want some of that? Tap into the power where it exists. p.s. March 8th is International Women’s Day, did you know that? You do now…have at it.

Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, a book about getting those baby boomer icons Dick and Jane to buy at your website. She is also the president and founder of Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC which specializes in business blog building, social media strategy and print-on-demand publishing.

Make a Referral Week Giveaway

Like it or not tax time is upon most small business folks. So, it seems like a good time to give away copies of Intuit’s Turbo Tax Business Software don’t you think.

TurboTax As an element of Make a Referral Week I’m going to draw 15 names from the businesses your refer today and send them a copy of Turbo Tax.

Here’s the deal, go Make a Referral here and when you do you’ll also be entering a business you love for a chance to get picked randomly to win a copy of Turbo Tax courtesy of Office Depot.

And, I’ll also pick two businesses you refer to get a Canon SD780 digital camera so they can take pictures of all those new customers they land because you made a referral.

So, what are you waiting for – go Make a Referral and make sure you share their contact information or website so we contact them if they win.

Office Depot