The most effective way to win over new clients for your company is something you cannot do for yourself

Marcos Chiquetto fev 17 2023

By Marcos Chiquetto

Our company has been developing campaigns to attract new clients for decades, beginning in the 1980s by sending email messages and direct mail to potential clients, and evolving with the times until today, using messages and posts on social networks like this one you are reading right now.

We have managed to gain many new clients through our work with promotional activities. I would even venture to say that our company wouldn’t have lasted for 37 years without these constant efforts. Nevertheless, there is another way that you can bring in new clients: through referrals from companies that you currently work with, which is also referred to as word of mouth.

One example of this occurred in 2014. At that time, our biggest client was HP. One day, our contact at HP of Brazil sent me a short message simply saying that they were recommending my company to a friend who worked at Lenovo. A few days later, Lenovo contacted me, which gave rise to a commercial relationship that has lasted until today. We regularly translate material for this company that includes e-commerce, press-releases and general marketing pieces.

Examples of folders we have translated for Lenovo. The files are delivered translated into Portuguese, formatted and finalized, exactly as you can see in the illustration.

This experience shows how word of mouth is a much more efficient means of promotion than the one-way approach to contacting potential clients.

And why is that?

Well, here is my interpretation of this phenomenon, based on my own experience. I don’t know of any references for scientific publications of studies on this subject, but I believe that my take on it makes sense. Nowadays, we are all targeted by dozens or even hundreds of marketing messages every day, all of which are variations of the same basic message: “Buy my product or service because my offer is better than that of my competitors.”

If you were to receive just one message like this, the chances are good that you might consider it carefully and maybe even believe it. However, when you receive hundreds of messages like this, you’re faced with a mountain of contradicting claims: a bunch of companies all saying that they are better than their competition, including companies that compete with each other. So, logic tells you that at least some of them are not telling the truth because obviously, they can’t all be better than each other. If company A is better than company B, then it follows that company B is worse than A. They can’t all be the best at the same time. Even when we don’t think this through consciously, our intuition tells us that these hundreds of messages can’t be trusted and, as such, it’s a waste of time to pay attention to them.

In addition to this obstacle of logic getting in the way, there is another more prosaic problem that reduces the effectiveness of these messages: time is scarce nowadays. We simply don’t have the time to do everything we want to do during the day, especially with the practically infinite offer of interesting content made available on digital platforms. That’s why it’s pretty unlikely that we will spend time to actually pay attention to an unsolicited message promoting a company.

In my experience, the return these days on promotional messages is much smaller than it was a few decades back. This makes referrals, or word of mouth, even more efficient, relatively speaking.

− Great. Understood. But, how can I get a client to recommend my company to a friend?

Well. Clients make referrals on their own, and it’s beyond our control. In general, there is nothing you can do to objectively induce your client to recommend your company to anyone. My own experiences have shown me that any attempt to try to induce your clients to do this can actually have the opposite effect: if they feel pressure to make a recommendation, a client will probably be inclined to refuse to do so.

Therefore, there’s only one way to manage to get referrals: give your clients such good service that they feel confident that they can recommend you and are happy to do so.

It’s as simple as that.

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