Fuck The Recession – Word of mouth beats all

This blog of late has not been firing out the usual daily Fluffy Links and other semi-regualr afternoon posts. I’ve just been mad busy. So much for a downturn. Life for me and Mulley Communications is good. On a daily basis I’m getting people ringing me asking me to do training or consulting. Sometimes I’ll send them to someone else, I just don’t have the time. 2009 is when companies are thinking differently and some are taking skills back inhouse. They’re doing their own PR and Marketing or they are embracing the online medium for the first time.

This post isn’t bragging but to point out a very interesting fact: I have never sought work from anyone. No coldcalling, no emailing offering services. All the work is coming to me from people recommending my services. People, some of whom I don’t know, I have never met but they were a talk of mine or read this blog. Thank you!

angel of happiness
Photo owned by a little tune (cc)

The other interesting fact is that Google brings me nothing. Despite ranking well on this blog and on the Mulley Communications for various terms, people don’t contact me after finding me via Google. This is fascinating isn’t it? Twitter brings me work, people who read this blog, people who have seen me talk at events. All places where I am more human and where I have hundreds of interactions with hundreds of other people. Despite the huge effort put into SEO, it’s word of mouth that gets me business.

I did a post a while back about working with the media to get coverage. Is all about people and knowing them and it’s also for me about people knowing me. Just like the advice to never turn down a press interview, if asked to talk at an event, never decline if you are free and can make it. If there are 300 people, 30 or even 3 at the event, go there and one person at a time if needs be, show your ability and authority to them. Volume doesn’t matter in a world where everyone is one step or two away from millions of people. If one person recommends me to one other after an event then I’m sorted.

I also suggest to people that are doing press to act as a router for the media. If someone from RTE rings you up and it is’t your area, don’t leave it at that. Find someone that does cover that area and give those details to the media. Help them to do their work. The same goes when people ringing me ask me to build them a site or do traditional PR or do tech support. I’ll find people for them.

Express Your Feeling!
Photo owned by ? Sleeping Sun ? (cc)

Always add value to a connection

Connections to me are:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Phone
  • Conferences
  • Talks

If you get an email from someone, give them something of value back. Same with phone. Twitter. You get the idea. Go to Barcamps and contribute. Do this either by adding to a discussion or sitting on a panel or giving a talk. Give talks at colleges or companies if asked. Paid and unpaid. If you can send people home with new knowledge then they’ll associate it with you. It’s amazing the way people have sent me business over the past 12 months soley because they saw me talk at an event. One thing to note though is this is the long game, not the short game. Momentum to get word of mouth recommendations takes time to build but so far in my experience it hasn’t slowed down. Fuck the recession, give out value to get it back.

11 Responses to “Fuck The Recession – Word of mouth beats all”

  1. Ruairi says:

    Damien, I agree with everything you are saying but I would suggest that some of it is true only for you. For example I do software and websites and no matter how much networking and interacting with people I do there will still be the odd person who wakes up one morning and decides out of the blue that they need a software service. They then Google and if I have a good website for my company I might get the work.

    However I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and thinks “I need a Damien Mulley today”. I’d suggest not only do you find your own work but you probably make most of it for yourself as well (I mean that in the most positive way possible). We should all do the same, but everyone else should also keep on top of Googling and advertising.

    Like most people who are a success in business you are very real and very interesting and maybe that is the true secret. Keep it up.

  2. Mark says:

    Jesus Mulley, look at the Seth Godin head-on-ye…

    Good post, I fully agree with everything you’ve said – interestingly I would not have thought Google brought you much business anyway. Simply because I wouldn’t imagine people often search for “Online PR” or “internet marketing” or the likes when they’re after those services.

    You’ve done an amazing job at developing your media profile in much the same way Seth Godin advises, becoming a thought-leader, networking, always “adding value”, cultivating a “personal brand” etc. This has clearly paid dividends. The fact you were blogging before most PR/marketing heads, more importantly blogging about those areas and also that you are the main driving force behind the now well-recognised IBAs, at least from the outside, seems have had huge impact on your business – congrats. Good to know someone is surviving the recession!

  3. excellent work Damo. Funny we thought a bit of Google would be a sure bet at the start but finding the same thing. Lucky that you didnt have to do any cold calling as I think in the line of work you are in there are very few people who actually get it yet so the sell is doubly hard when you also have to educate some people about the services you provide. Keep it up 🙂

  4. Good points, Damien. Essential to help people out. If we get calls about pitches that just aren’t our thing … we pass them on, even to competitors. People looking for sponsors? If it’s not one of our brands, we try to put them in touch with brands that might fit and/or have the funds. This shouldn’t change during a recession. If anything, we should do more of it as people need as much help as they can get. What goes around … and all that.

  5. kieran says:

    Yeah, I think Ruairi’s points are valid at the top of this post in terms of google traffic. It really depends on the market you are in as to how effective google is going to be for you. You seem to rank on the first page for a lot of PR related queries such as “pr companies in ireland”, “pr companies ireland” etc but no one is searching for these in Ireland. When no one is searching, you are not going to get any calls. Most people would search for “pr marketing” and as online is set to just become the norm there is no harm going after that term (although may be a bit general).

    But it’s probably a good thing you get most of your work from social means, shows you know how to do it, practise what you preach and all that 🙂

  6. Keith says:

    Excellent post Damien. I have been playing with the whole website thing for the last three years and have not seen one direct sale through it. I would say that it does act as an interaction between myself and existing clients or clients who have visited my showroom. Word of mouth is the only true form of advertising but some of us are just trying our best to stay in business by trying new avenue’s and hoping it will pay off. I get e-mails daily with people looking for me to advertise with them, the only thing I will gain from this are hits to my site.. Again no use to me as I have stated above. I have found Twitter to be very useful, not as a marketing tool but as a learning tools. I follow some very interesting people such as yourself and some not so interesting. While gain nothing directly from this I am learning something new everyday.

  7. Mark says:

    Keith… dude… first thing you may consider is using the “website” box when you post so people can find it. No point in talking about how you’ve not got a sale through something people cant find. Publicise it where the opportunity arises and you never know…

  8. Keith says:

    Mark, I did not comment to promote myself or my business. I replied to what Damien said because I agreed with it. My knowledge of websites, blogs, Twitter etc is very basic. I read blogs and go on twitter because I find them and the people on them interesting. I do not use Twitter as a promotional tool I use it to gain knowledge in this and other areas.
    You have my site address now and may or may not see where I am coming from. If someone lands on my site and they live 50 miles away what are the chances of us getting business from this? Pretty slim I would think. Who wants to drive from Dublin to Carlow for a Kitchen when they have 500 other suppliers in their area.. Our business has thrived for 25 years on referrals. I had the website designed and thought that it would increase our sales and generate new customers. I was wrong, people do not buy what I have to offer from a website they want and need to see the real thing and are not always willing to travel to do this.

  9. Mark says:

    I can see where you’re coming from Keith. It was just a quick observation though, I didn’t mean it as a big criticism. Sorry if it came across that way.

    Strangely enough though, while we’re on the area. I know I’ve recommended Kieran Murphy’s ice cream to people in Dublin and they’ve come back to me and said “wow, good ice cream”. Keiran runs an ice cream shop in Dingle and promotes it via blogs, Twitter etc, ice cream is a far more discretionary thing to buy than kitchens – two of the people actually decided to GO to Dingle to check out the ice cream when they’d only planned to visted Killarney – on my recommendation. Keiran posts quick videos, recipes and ideas about ice cream every week or two (i.e. he does promote it HUGELY online, but you’d know what he does if you followed him on Twitter).

    There’s a lesson in what I’m saying somewhere anyway. I’m knackered, it’s probably something like “it can be crazy what people will do when a friend recommends” or “a positive review from someone you know is more valuable than any advert”.

  10. Hi Damien,

    Take a look at BNI.com they have been doing the word of mouth marketing thing in a structured way for a long time.

    There are over 30 chapters in Dublin with an average of 25 (or so) members per chapter.

    That’s 750 Dublin businesses who believe in Word of Mouth marketing over most other things and many more throughout the rest of the country.

    I think most of us BNI’ers would agree with you wholeheartedly.



  11. Steve Rawson says:

    Wise words Damien. regardless of all the technologies one on one interaction will always triumph while networking and referrals can help us all.