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Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest form of marketing that exists, and it is still very effective. In fact, one of the best ways to get more clients for any business owner is to increase your word-of-mouth marketing efforts. People trust hearing from those whom they know, or respect, or have other connections with more than they trust a specific type of advertisement.

Here are 7 ways you can increase results from your word of mouth marketing efforts:

1. Ask for Referrals – If you want your current customers or contacts to give you referrals, it is important that you tell them that is what you want. You can include a short note on your invoices that says “I appreciate your referrals”, or you can take a more direct approach and speak with your clients directly. Even though asking can sometimes be difficult, you get more results from asking.

2. Be Detail Oriented – A great way to ensure that you get the right type of referrals is to tell your customers and contacts exactly what type of clients you are looking for. That way they can be sure to tell the right people about you and your products and/or services. A good way to do this is to compare your future desired clients to your current one, as in, “Joe, I’ve really enjoyed working together. If you know other bright, ambitious entrepreneurs like you, who want to grow their online business, I would really appreciate any connections you could help me make.” So, in this way, you’re pointing out distinctly what you like and value- and what you want more of.

3. Be a True Resource – The more you can offer to everyone you come into contact with, even if you cannot service them directly, the more youíll be seen as a resource to others. They will then trust enough in your skill to recommend people who can be your actual clients. Always try to be helpful where you can, and offer value everywhere you can.

4. Create a referral thanks program – There is nothing wrong with providing some incentives or thank you gifts to your contacts to recommend you to others. You can do it before or after the fact. Some people have successfully given coupons and discounts to those who have recommended them, with great results.

5. Promote Testimonials – Ask for testimonials from your currently satisfied clients to share with your social media followers, website visitors, and within your sales pages. Once you receive a testimonial there are many ways in which you can use them to get more business. One of my favorite ways is to go beyond the testimonial and build more in-depth case studies.

6. Build a Community of Customers – as much as you can, try and build your community of satisfied clients. Connect with them on Facebook. Let them meet each other. Create opportunities to build your brand through connecting happy clients with one another. Everybody wants to belong somewhere.

7. Network Strategically – Many people with whom you have casual contact through networking events can be a wonderful resource for referrals. There are many networking groups that you can join to help you get the word out. The key with these groups is to be visible, consistent, and to share referrals as well as ask for them.

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best forms of marketing available and one of the least expensive. All you have to do is live up to your reputation and continue to overdeliver so that your clients are thrilled by your products and services and want to keep the word-of-mouth going.