Word of mouth marketing is hugely important.
Yes, the Internet will, over time, displace new instructions garnered in this way, but most clients would prefer to know that their (soon to be) trusted advisor is your trusted advisor. Implicit trust counts for a lot.
It is important though that you don’t leave things to chance.
You must work out a process that enables clients to refer their friends or relatives to you. If you wait for them, then you are missing out on a major opportunity to grow your referral business. And please don’t think that the rather inane question “Can you recommend anyone?” will lead to names being plucked out of thin air. It is no different to asking if someone knows a good joke. The purview is simply too wide for anything sensible to emerge.
Failing a proactive process of driving word of mouth referrals, one of the most important areas to focus on is written, audio or video recommendations from your clients.
Up to now lawyers have been nervous about asking for a recommendation let alone display them in a named or anonymous way. But in truth this has more to do with lawyers not asking rather than clients being unwilling to volunteer. In my experience clients are usually very happy to oblige, and will usually be far more effusive in their praise than you expected.
But where to place the recommendation?
Google Places would be my starting point. It is bound to improve SEO and hopefully show up on any relevant Internet searches.
Next perhaps should come LinkedIn where the endorsement process, although skewed towards a reciprocal arrangement, is nevertheless simple and immediate.
Lastly perhaps should come the firm’s website, the choice being whether to stick to text, audio or better still a video testimonial.
You will often find that clients are lost to know exactly what to say. You might point them in the direction of current recommendations or if you feel comfortable in suggesting it, you may put forward your own recommendation. This may feel wrong and ego-centric but clients are not adept at producing recommendations and appreciate guidance.
A well placed recommendation may just be the difference between getting the instruction and missing out to a competitor.
Give yourself the target of securing no less than one recommendation per month, and celebrate every recommendation with sending your client a handwritten thank you note. This will really cement the relationship.
If all this seems like too much hassle then think about the last time you bought a book of any note. You will see that nearly every writer receives a recommendation to endorse his new work. Perhaps not quite the same arena but it is an influencer nevertheless.
~ JS ~