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How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant BusinessWritten by Janice Byer and Elayne Whitfield-Parr, this NEW book includes information and tips to help aspiring and established VAs with every aspect of starting and building a Virtual Assistant business.

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The Power of Word of Mouth
By Janice D. Byer, CCVA, MVA
Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services

Most of us remember the commercial that said, “I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and…”, well you get the picture. This commercial, which represented Breck Hair Shampoo, ran so many times that even I remember who the commercial represented. 

The reason I mention this particular commercial is not because of the number of times it was aired but rather because of the message it was sending. This company knew the importance of potential clients hearing something about their product or service that impressed someone else. 

It’s called Word of Mouth and it can make or break the success of almost every aspect of our lives, especially our business lives. In our personal lives, if we like something, we will talk positively about it to others. This, in turn, will show them that this is something good and that they should check it out. 

It could be anything from a favourite plant that flowers throughout the growing season, to a fabulous doctor who has the bedside manner of an angel. If we are happy about something, we will likely talk about it to others. 

In our business lives, positive word of mouth generates referrals and referrals generate business. So, word of mouth is one of the most important marketing tools that can contribute to our success. What could be better than a customer mentioning how pleased they were with a service you provided to others who may need this service? Free advertising… that’s what word of mouth is. 

Not only do we love to be the recipient of positive word of mouth, we should also realize that others are in the same boat as us and rely on word of mouth to help them succeed as well. So, if you like something, be sure to tell others about it, especially if they are in need of something you had a great experience with. 

For example, for months I have been trying to find a backup software to use on my new computer. I tried several and was not impressed with how they performed or the extent of their customer service. It would sometimes take over a week to get a response. Well, I finally came across this little, cheapy program that said it would do what I wanted it to do. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. And… I was very happy with the outcome. At one point I had problems and in one afternoon, after several emails back and forth with the author of the software, I was up and running again… no problem. This tiny little company impressed me so much that I have recommended his software to as many people as possible…including you. Check out the Backup Assistant at http://www.graffman.net.

Word of mouth is also known as a verbal testimonial. The words of praise literally come right from the horse’s mouth. It’s a very powerful recommendation to physically hear someone bestowing the virtues of a certain product or service, or the company behind this great find. 

Vocalizing your satisfaction is not the only way to get the word out. With so many people using the Internet to find information, why not include your recommendations on your website. Having a Resources page on your website is a great way to let others know of different things that you would recommend. 

Word of mouth can also be in the form of a written testimonial and can benefit both the company that gave you that great service and the recipient. Many companies like to present testimonials for others to see. And, why shouldn’t they? It’s a great way to show people how much others have liked their service. The benefit to you is that each time you say something nice about their service, they may in turn publicize your testimonial on their literature or website. And, they will usually include your name and your company. There you have it… your company’s name is in front of the eyes of potential clients, just because you took the time to say a few nice words about something else. 

Now, let’s flip the coin here for a moment. We’ve mentioned about the benefits of positive word of mouth. But, what about the pitfalls of negative word of mouth? If someone spreads the word that your service is fabulous, new business will come your way. However, if you provide a service or product that someone is not happy with, they will either never recommend you or they will tell three times as many people about the negativities they have experienced. Providing an exceptional service or product, coupled with “beyond the call of duty” customer service, can have a positive effect on your business. But, not providing what you customers deserve can bring down the curtain faster than you can blink. 

For example, I recently had a run in with a supplier who I would never recommend to anyone, not even my fiercest competitor. This company took over 3 months to provide me with the product I needed. Each time I called their office, I would either get an answering machine and have to wait days to get a reply or I would get the old “ it will be ready by Friday” response. I was not impressed! In fact, when I did finally get the finished product, I was not at all happy with it. Oh, and I never even got an apology for the delay or the discount I requested because of my displeasure. In short, they seemed to not want my business now or in the future. I think I’ll comply. 

Word of mouth is very powerful, both positively and negatively. Of course, we should always strive to gain positive referrals… that’s my goal. It can have a tremendous impact on our success. So… get out there and tell two friends about this article… and so on!


Janice Byer, owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services, provides professional, creative and affordable virtual office assistance and small business website design. She is a Certified Canadian Virtual Assistant (CCVA) and Master Virtual Assistant (MVA). She is also the author of Surfin' The Net - Docu-Type's Virtual Collection of Links, which is filled with the secrets of her success. Visit her website for more information and to get your copy.


 

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