By Jennie Wong
2. Tell a good story
In the seminal book “Human Communication as Narration,” communication professor Walter Fisher proposes that humans are essentially storytelling creatures, and dubs our species Homo narrans. Therefore consider that the word of mouth you seek for your business will likely take a very specific form, namely a story.
Every customer will have their own unique story about their experience with you, but you can influence their stories by effectively telling your own. For example, Paul Cardone, aka Charlotte’s Garage Door Guru, is a third generation garage door installer. Verena Martin, owner of SouthPark Hypnosis, became certified after hypnosis helped her overcome her lifelong struggle with weight and self-confidence. Dilworth restaurateur Phong Luong conceived the idea for his iPad app NexTable while watching frustrated customers walk out after being quoted a long wait time.
Each of these abbreviated stories tells more than just what happened.
Each story also implicitly conveys why you should become a customer, and far more convincingly than a typical slogan or corporate strategy statement.
3. Ask the right way
Once you’ve armed your customers with something worth remarking on and a story about your company worth telling, trigger them by simply asking them to spread the word.
The trick is to ask the right customers, at the right time, in the right way.
Think through the customer profile that is ideal for your business. Which of your existing clients is the most profitable or best represents the strategic direction you have in mind? Be sure to target them with your requests for referrals, versus asking across the board.
Then decide on an auspicious moment to ask for the referral. Too early and you won’t have built enough credibility. Too late and you may have faded from memory.
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur” and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com.
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