Marketing to mining: word of mouth – don’t hang your hat on it

An objection I often hear from mining suppliers and service providers is ‘We don’t need to market; all of our business comes from word of mouth’.

This is particularly the case with contractors and service providers from the ‘dad and Dave’ operators to the multi-disciplined engineering companies at the big end of town.

You don’t need to be a marketing genius to know that word of mouth is the most potent form of marketing, but beware relying on it to promote your business.

Here’s why.

#1 – Word of mouth is SLOW

You may get business based on a referral or recommendation tomorrow, but you may not get one until next month or in three month’s time.

You have no control or influence over the sales cycle.

Why leave the fate of your business to chance?

#2 – Word of mouth is UNRELIABLE and INACCURATE

Studies have shown that businesses that received work as a result of referrals and recommendations won that work contrary to what they thought.

This could mean that you won work because you thought you had a superior product, but in fact you won the work because of your after market sales and support.

‘So what?’ you say. ‘It’s all good.’

Well, yes and no.

Yes because you won the work, but no because you don’t know WHY you won the work. This can be a big problem, because if business slows due to factors other than market conditions you won’t know why and you won’t know how to fix it.

#3 – you’re at the MERCY of market conditions

If the market’s good – which it has been – you may get by on word of mouth referrals, but if business slows your order book or pipeline of work will start to shrink – unlike your overheads!

Effective and well-executed marketing and promotion will balance out the feast or famine peaks and troughs of work and provide a more consistent stream of work.

#4 – You have NO CONTROL over word of mouth

If you’re not controlling the message the message will control you.

What I mean by this statement is that if you’re relying on winning work from referrals you have no control or influence over what people are saying about your business or service. Which brings me to my final point…

#5 – BAD word of mouth TRAVELS FAST!

Trust me. If you f****d up on a job or failed to deliver through incompetency and poor service your customer will tell an average of 10 people. And those 10 people will tell someone and so and so on. No guesses as to how that’s going to affect your chances of winning more work.

Bottom line: word of mouth is great, but if you want my advice – don’t hang your hat on it.

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