Generating Big Word of Mouth By Focusing on the Little Things

lady giving a referral as a secretGenerating new business through word of mouth and referrals is still an important component of an effective small business marketing system.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking it requires a big, involved, and expensive marketing campaign to create a remarkable business that generates new business from word of mouth (or buzz).

The truth of the matter is, it’s often the little things we do consistently that can create the biggest buzz.

Recently I overheard a conversation at Panera that illustrates this point. Two guys sitting next to me were talking about a variety of topics when one of them asked the other if he knew a particular dentist (the 2nd guy did not). He went on to explain how this particular dentist always made sure that he played his patients favorite type of music during their appointment.

And then the second guy exclaimed

“Now that’s customer service!”

He followed up by asking all sorts of questions about the dentist. Did he specialize? Where was he located? Was he taking new patients? I’m sure both of those guys told that story at least one more time each that day.

Hearing this reminded me of a similar story. When John Jantsch talks about referral marketing and creating a “talk-able” difference, he shares a story about a financial services company whose has his clients’ cars detailed right out in the parking lot when they come in for their annual review.

I know another financial planner who records her clients favorite beverages in her CRM system so she can have them ready when the client comes to visit.

Each of these examples helps create a memorable story that is easy for people to share. And none of them are terribly expensive.

Are there similar things that you can do in your business that would help people share their experiences working with you and make it easier for them to talk about you?

There may be “little things” that you do already, but maybe don’t do them consistently because they are not part of a system yet.

Sometimes you can create a talk-able difference just by going a little bit beyond what “would have been enough”. For example:

  • Making a phone call when an email would have been good enough
  • Giving a cash refund when a credit would have been good enough
  • Introducing two of your business contacts over lunch when just introducing them through LinkedIn would have been good enough
  • Sending a book to a customer when telling them about it would have been good enough

Or you could do something small but unexpected. Is there a stereotype or stigma that is typically associated with your business or profession? What can you do to break it or make yourself stand out as an exception?

Do you have an example of something you do (or have witnessed) that creates buzz? Please share it below.


  1. I completely agree Bill!  It’s the LITTLE things that make a difference.  People forget what you say and did but they NEVER forget the way you made them feel.  TCOY!!  

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