All companies that grow really big do so in only one-way: people recommend the product or service to other people, sometimes through ads and ideally, through person-to-person recommendations. And the only way to generate sustained exponential growth is to make whatever you’re making sufficiently better, sometimes better than the competition, and in some cases, better than your company’s own last version. For example, refer-a-friend-to-earn-credits programs can work–if the product is good enough to recommend anyway. But that kind of program can fail for most startups because the product isn’t good enough yet or the sales team has over committed, setting expectations so high the production team fails and under-delivers.
I have mentored literally hundreds of business owners and almost every time I see a business not performing it is primarily because they are not spending enough time on relationship building. Whatever you provide, competition offers it too (or will) and your prospects will do business with the providers that hold the best reputation. I am shocked at how many business owners do not invest in marketing their reputation. Let’s look at an example: the relationships you have with your suppliers. These vendor partners come into your business daily, they have meaningful relationships with your staff. They know your strengths and weaknesses better than most. Your business must have tens to hundreds of them and you will completely transform your business when you begin to look at them as an extension of your marketing team. Trust me; they leave your business and talk to others about what is going on within your company. Your suppliers are a very effective and meaningful part of spreading the good word and growing your business. Why?? Because it benefits them, too. It’s the very definition of a mutually-beneficial relationship.
I think another very fruitful way of spreading the good word and growing your business is conducted in the cul-de-sack of neighborhoods around the country, when neighbors get together at weekend BBQs or moms who chat while they get the kids together to play. Yes, your spouses and neighbors are also an extension of your sales and marketing team! Almost no one wants to see you succeed more than your family, friends and neighbors. Everybody likes to be associated with a stunningly successful person, and they will, sometimes inadvertently help you become that very stunning success. Even the neighborhood guys boosting about your company’s great products and services at poker night while enjoying a cold beverage is powerful. In fact, this is the MOST powerful form of marketing. You know your friends and neighbors and trust them more than you trust a marketing campaign. These one-on-one encounters will boost sales far more than any sales team looking for new business.
What this means is that if you want to be a great company some day, you have to eventually build something so good that people will recommend it to their friends and families. No growth hack, brilliant marketing idea, or sales team can save you long term if you don’t have a sufficiently great product.
“Do what you say and say what you do!” Word of mouth sells product and grows sustaining business relationships