Ever heard of Esom Hill, Georgia? If you take a minute and Google “Esom Hill, GA” you’ll find quite a few articles about the seedy underbelly of the town. It sounds like a place you don’t want to break down in… a place you don’t want to deliberately drive nearly 2 hours to reach, get out of the car and explore…that is, unless your ancestors helped build the town and are buried there.
My mom’s side of the family once had a large plot of land in Esom Hill. There my grandfather (six generations back) was the justice of the peace. One sultry, sunny Sunday, we piled in the car and made the trek across Georgia to the little town of Esom Hill. Upon arrival, it seemed as if only memories resided in the empty buildings. We drove about a mile outside of the town area to the woods where the family land once was. There we would park our car and hike about ⅛ of a mile up the side of the hill to find the Edmondson family cemetery plot.
The adventure was a blast (and no one got poison ivy!) More importantly, it reminded me of an important lesson that has been so important to my own business. Word of mouth can make you or break you. Let’s just imagine if someone had visited Esom Hill and wrote a more favorable article to breakup the sketchy Google listings…
“Esom Hill is a quaint town nestled just inside the Georgia state line with beautiful rolling hills and rich history.”
Doesn’t that sound much nicer than...
“Though the town is small, it carries a big reputation… I’d been warned to be very, very careful if I got anywhere near the place.”
Word of Mouth Can Make You
My entire business has been built on word of mouth. From the minute I jumped into the freelance world, I provided over-the-top customer service. I wanted my clients to feel like they wouldn’t get that kind of service from anyone but me. Every project, email, call, etc. was important and I made sure they knew it. When their family, friends and business associates asked about their graphic designer or mentioned needing some help in the design field, my name was quickly mentioned and my business grew.
Without these first clients sharing their success stories and building up my reputation, The Savvy Peach wouldn’t have opened and I would still be sitting behind a desk in an office that had no windows. Yuck.
Word of Mouth Can Break You
We’ve all had clients that just didn’t fit. You know, the ones you pour your everything into their project and it just isn’t working?! I had the pleasure of working with one of these beautiful individuals just as recently as late last year. Going through every piece of the onboarding process, it seemed as if we would be a great fit. The project started and my designs were on point - to me at least. The client wasn’t pleased, they felt as if I hadn’t even reviewed their information, that I didn’t “get their vibe”. After I picked my pride up off of the floor, I felt it best to end the project and refund the deposit. The crazy experience was over.
How to Build Your Word of Mouth Biz
As my business grew, I recognized a few key steps to ensure my word of mouth “advertising” remained intact and positive.
Always provide the best service. Think about what attracts you to a certain business or brand and incorporate that into your client experience. The ROI will be well worth the extra time and energy.
Build strong relationships. I still have the very first client I ever landed. Knowing the people behind the organization has made me an integral part of the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders team. Now, whenever there is a design need, they call the Peach!
Ask for the testimonial/feedback. Always be willing to take feedback on your process. Is there something that would make it easier for clients in the proofing stage? How about in accounting? When your clients have the opportunity to provide their opinion, they are more likely to feel invested in the process and your company. Let them know that they are important by giving them a voice.
Make wrongs right. If you have a problem or unhappy client, make sure you do everything in your power to make things right. When clients aren’t happy find a nice middle ground that both of you can be pleased with.
With all of the ratings available on Facebook and Yelp, making sure your “free” advertising is favorable is a must. Take the tips I’ve learned along the way and implement them into your own client experience. I’d love to hear how they turn out!