This Wednesday morning I had the honor of giving the keynote speech for PRWeb's Thrive 2010 virtual conference.
For a presenter, virtual conferences are a little weird because they make you pre-tape your speech a week or two beforehand, so they can do edits and load it up in the system; and, then on the day itself, you get on the phone for the live Q&A session that starts the seconds after your pre-taped speech ends. In reality this means you call in 15 minutes before your speech begins, do a soundcheck, and then hang out in your office for the next 45 minutes with your phone on mute until it's time to answer questions.
So there I am with my own voice bouncing out of the speakerphone advising "Word of mouth marketing is incredibly powerful -- you can't control it completely, but you can and should encourage it! Put a customer evangelism encouragement program in place today..." when a customer evangelism survey appeared in my email in-box from Wistia, the vendor we use for video hosting.
Perfect timing! One of the questions was, "would you like to receive $25 for each new client you refer?" I was going to answer yes, because what's wrong with cash... but then I realized I don't refer people to Wistia because I want a formal reward. I'm just a happy customer and enjoy occasionally, casually sharing their name with friends. My payoff is a great circle of friends who'll also share their favorite vendor names with me.
On a whim I typed "I'd rather get flowers!" in the survey comments box. Then I clicked submit, and hopped onto the virtual conference line to do the live Q&A.
I had assumed my survey answer was anonymous. It never occurred to me that anyone at Wistia was sitting there looking at my response, specifically knowing -- or caring -- it was from me in particular.
When the 1-800-Flowers van showed up the very next day with a gorgeous bouquet of tulips and irises, together with a thank-you note from Wistia I was COMPLETELY DUMBFOUNDED.
Wow. So, here I am talking about them, and linking to them even more. I bet if you sent your best referring clients flowers, they'll talk about you and link to you as well. It doesn't have to be flowers. Angie's List, for example, sends M&Ms. My girlfriend Aimen Barma at uAmplify told me she's measured the lifetime value of customers from word-of-mouth referrals versus all other marketing channels, and referrals are not only cheaper customers to acquire but also tend to be the best customers, people who buy more and buy for longer, than customers acquired through any other means. I guess Wistia knew that.