On this episode Josh speaks with Matt Ward an expert and speaker on Word of Mouth referrals.

Matt is passionate about helping employees, managers, and business owners move their business and personal life to the next level through word of mouth referrals.

He has experienced all the same challenges that most employees and business owners face. These failures have helped Matt craft a message that resonates with the audience to leave them with actionable steps to improve their business through word of mouth referrals.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • What does it take to do word of mouth marketing?
  • Who are connectors and non-connectors?
  • How to be good be a connector?
  • What is a difference between introductions and referral?
  • How to ask for introductions to people that you can help but not make it into a sales call?


Narrator:         Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                 Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business podcast.

My guest today is Matt Ward. Our topic is going to be word of mouth marketing. Matt created a web marketing company which was built through word of mouth. That’s his expertise. Instead of me wandering on about word of mouth, because I know very little about it and I’m not specially good at it, let’s bring Matt on so we can all learn.

Hey, Matt. How are you today?

Matt:                Great, Josh. Thanks for having me on the podcast and the Live Facebook feed. I love it.

Josh:                 I like to get two parts of the apple if I possibly can, sometimes it works and sometimes not so much.

Matt:                I personally like two parts of the donut but that’s where we’re different.

Josh:                 We could actually talk about donuts for a while because I don’t know if I’m a donut snob but I really like donuts.

Matt:                Oh, do you? Yeah.

Josh:                 Yeah. Have you ever been to Portland, Oregon?

Matt:                No. Not yet. That’s on my list.

Josh:                 Well, if you really like donuts, that’s the donut capital of the world.

Matt:                Oh, let me just jot that down right now, Portland, Oregon.

Josh:                 Anyway, enough about donuts. Let’s talk about what it takes to do word of mouth marketing.

Matt:                I think it takes consistency. People have to know that you exist. Really, what I’m all about, when I wrote my book about, was that it takes caring. You have to care about other people. And if you do it with other people in mind, if you give with other people in mind then I think that that comes back in that reciprocity effect. And it comes back big time because people want you in their lives. And so, as a by product of that, they give you more word of mouth referrals. That’s just how the world goes around. Things always tend to come back around when we least expect them.

Josh:                 Word of mouth referral is a subset of referral marketing, would you say that’s true?

Matt:                Yeah. I think that if you’re going to take an approach to word of mouth marketing that means you’re going to have a word of mouth marketing plan. And so, I think that if you’ve got a marketing plan and a component of that is to drive more word of mouth referrals at a more predictable basis, then there needs to be a systematic approach to it. And then, eventually, what happens is all of this becomes habit. That’s what happened with me. I took an intentional approach to do specific things. And then, eventually, it all became habit. And now, it’s just what I do in my daily routine.

Josh:                 Okay. Let’s talk about some of those specific things. What might they be?

Matt:                The first thing is the thing that people tend to hate to do, because they think it takes a lot more time, is the thank you card, Josh, the hand written thank you card. I keep these things on my desk. This is just a generic one. I don’t know where I got it – Walmart, Staples, Amazon. I’ve no idea, but I have so many of them.

I think that, when you send a handwritten card, it does two things, number one, it shows the person you sent it to that you recognize what it is they did. It doesn’t even have to be that they did something for you. Perhaps you’re thanking them for showing up in the world today in a way that makes sense. Perhaps, it’s somebody coming on your podcast. Or perhaps it’s because you heard a great podcast and you just decided to mail somebody a card. The second thing it does is it raises your level of internal satisfaction because the more that you write these cards, the more joy you get out of life.

There’s this common saying, Josh, that people do business with who they know, like and trust. I’ve always believed that. As this has evolved over time, the last 10 years, I’ve added a fourth component to that which is I believe that people do business with who they know, like, trust and care about. The more you can do business with people that really bring joy to your life and you’re niching down, and target marketing, and doing business with people that just put a smile on your face, then business is so much more fun. I call it the “high five” effect. You can walk down the hallway in a business and high five your clients. Those are the type of clients that I would think people would want to work with.

Josh:                 Yeah. I would, too. It makes a ton of sense to me. I have found that like introvert or extrovert, there’s ranges of this. I have found the world, basically when it comes to word of mouth marketing, breaks down to two different areas – connectors and those who are not connectors. When I work with people and I talk about word of mouth, I say, “First, identify who your connectors are and love them because they’re the ones who are going to introduce you. Don’t waste a whole lot of your time on the non-connectors because no matter what you do, they’re not going to tell anybody about you.”

Matt:                Yes. And I would add to that, that when I talk to people about building any word of mouth referral program in their business, it’s really about building up their partners. And so, I always talk to people about doing business with people that wouldn’t necessarily do business with them but they have the ability to and the desire to refer them business.

When I owned my web agency for 16 years, before I sold it, the number one referral source for us was IT professionals – people that owned computer companies. The reason was that their clients would go to them and say, “Who do you know that can– can you build me a website?” is what their first question generally was. The IT professional says, “Well, we could but we don’t do that. We fix computers. We maintain computers. But we don’t do marketing and advertising on websites”, so they would refer them to us. Those same people, referring them to us, could build their own and, in many cases, did build their own websites. They were never customers of ours.

Whenever I walked into a room to network I knew, at the forefront of my mind, that I was looking for new IT professionals that I could build relationships with. Our clients would call us to repair computers and we would not do that, so we would then be referring them to them. You want to find these ideal churn mechanisms to get more referrals on a regular basis.

You’re absolutely right about the connector piece. I would also add that if you, at all, can be the connector, that’s the pivot point because that’s what I did. I became the connector. I gave, and gave, and gave.

Even yesterday, on Facebook, somebody made a post and I was sharing this conversation that I had with somebody else and I said, “Hey, if you want to connect with them, I’m happy to make that connection for you.” If you said to me, “Matt, I would love to meet John Doe. Can you send me John Doe’s information?” I would say, “Well, Josh, that’s’ fantastic. I know John. Great.” I’ll tell you what, I think what I would prefer is to do an introduction email with you and him. Would that be okay?” because what I want to do is facilitate the introduction – be the connector, because then when I’m the connector, that’s’ what I get known for. And then, everybody’s referring people to me.

Josh:                 My challenge with that – frankly, I’m a huge connector. I put people together all the time. I have to say that it’s almost never, I ever get anything back for those. It is like so rare that I do it because it’s who I am, not because it creates business because it doesn’t. I’m obviously doing something wrong in my connections.

Matt:                No. No, you’re doing everything right, Josh. The mind shift comes in thinking that you’re owed something back. When I first started this process, I read the book by Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone. When I read that book, it’s not about having lunch with people although there are some concepts in there about that. It’s really about giving without the expectation of getting anything in return. That’s a habit you have to build over time.

And even to this day, sometimes that trigger will creep into my mind but I built a muscle that just kicks it out. And so, when I do that, I give because I want to give, not because I want to get. The more you do that, the more you build that repetition and that habit, the more it will be clear to others that you’re a giver. When it’s clear to others that you’re a giver, they give back to you.

Josh:                 Well, that’s not been my experience in my own personal life so far. I do introductions with no sense of getting something back. I often do things for potential clients that I don’t expect any business out. I’m just doing it because it’s the right thing to do and, at the same time, I’m not getting anything back for this. My thought process has been, for years now, is that “I’m going to continue doing this because I think it’s the right thing to do and I’m not really expecting anything back.” And everyone tells me, “If that’s your mindset, you’re going to get stuff back” well, it doesn’t happen with me so it must be I’m doing something wrong.

Matt:                I think we have to look at what it is you want back. What is it that you’re looking to get back? Is it a business lead or a connection to somebody else?

Josh:                 Yeah, a connection to somebody who would write me a check.

Matt:                What I would say is, if you’ve built up enough truss in the so-called fictitious trust bank account, then you have the authority to have a conversation with an individual and ask them for that introduction. Now, there’s a difference between asking for a referral and asking for an introduction. Asking for a referral is basically asking for the transaction. “Do you know somebody who can buy from me?” That’s different than saying, “Hey, I think it might make sense for me to talk to X person. Josh, do you know X person? Would you be willing to make an introduction to X person for me?” When you’re very specific about that, you tend to get those introductions.

Josh:                 Those I get. You’re correct.

Matt:                Yeah.

And so, when you’re specific about the person or thing that you want, you get those. And so, what I would say is be specific to the people you’ve built the trust with and then you will get back what you’re looking for.

However, if you go to them and say, “Can you refer me somebody that would buy from me?” They’re not going to do that because now what I have found, in my experience, is that when you ask for a referral, one of two things happens, they either say “yes” and they give you a lead and not a referral, like somebody that really isn’t ready, willing and able to buy. Or, two, they say, “Yeah, Josh. I’ll get back to you. Let me think about that. I’ll get back to you.” And they’re just telling you that to appease you and get out of the situation because they feel uncomfortable.

However, if you went to X person and say, “Can you make an introduction to Matt Ward? I see you’re connected to him on LinkedIn.” They might say, “Sure, but why do you want to talk to Matt?” If the answer is “to sell Matt”, they’re going to be less likely to make the introduction because now they’re on the hook and they have to kind of process all of this trust stuff that goes on in their head.

Instead, if you say, “Well, I think that it might make sense for us to have a conversation because of X, Y and Z.” Now, you’re detailing it to the individual, they’re more likely to make the connection. Making introductions is way more successful than asking for referrals.

Josh:                 Matt, you just gave a great gem there. Here’s why I think this is a great gem. When somebody gives a referral for business, they’re taking a huge risk in the fact that you might not be very good at what you’re doing. They like you. They trust you. They think you’re a good guy. You’ve had good conversations with them but they haven’t seen you work, necessarily, as a professional. I know that when someone asks me for a referral, I’m much less likely to give it than if they ask for an introduction because the introduction lowers my risk level so significantly that it’s easy for me to do because I’m not referring you to write this person a check, I’m referring you to have a conversation with them about something that might make their life better.

Matt:                Exactly. And I would add that, when you ask for the referral, what often happens when an individual tries to make the referral for you, where they haven’t done business with you, is they include this huge, basically, legal warning text in the email that says, “I just want to let you know he’s a great guy but I need to let you know I haven’t done business with him so I don’t know how he works or operates.” There’s this whole warning effect that goes on. And I’ve done some of those, over time, because I don’t want to be on the hook for a business deal going bad in that relationship because I am known as a connector. And then my trust level goes way down when that happens.

And so, I have a struggle. It’s really hard for me to introduce people to others that don’t call me back. Like, if I can’t get a hold of somebody through email or phone, I can’t introduce them to somebody else because I feel like that’s the same relationship that they’re going to have with that person. And so, how you show up in the world and what you’re–

I just wrote a blog about this this week. What you’re known for is what is going to stick with you. And so, you have to put out in the world what you’re known for. So, if you’re known for a quick turnaround, if you’re known for always calling back within 15 minutes, if you’re known for really crafty emails, if you’re known for wordsmithing – like, I know of somebody right now who, when she’s out of office, she puts an autoreply, an “out of office” autoreply, on her email. First of all, you get the autoresponse but it’s not just generic, she customizes the whole thing related to her brand and it’s really cool. It felt like, sometimes I kind of hope she’s not in the office, right?

Josh:                 [laughs].

Matt:                But that’s what she’s known for and I love that. It’s just really creative and I refer her all the time. That’s just one small component. You see, because I know that if I refer Josh Patrick to her and she’s not in, he’s going to get a response in a very similar way that I have received. And so, we need to make sure that the connections we’re making with people are true. They’re genuine. They’re who we are. That’s what’s out in the world. That’s how people are going to know us. That’s how they’re going to ultimately refer us or why they’re going to ultimately refer us.

Josh:                 Matt, you just made my podcast day absolutely, 100% worthwhile and I have to tell you why. I’ve been giving introductions for years, and years, and years, and years and I have refused to ask for referrals. I also have not asked for introductions.

You might remember, in the beginning of this podcast, I said, “I’m obviously doing something wrong.” You just helped me identify what that doing something wrong is.

Matt:                If I could just switch that just a little bit and be the slight contrarian, maybe add to it, and just say that I don’t think you’re doing it wrong. I just think maybe you’re not doing it enough.

Josh:                 No, I do it all the time. I probably do at least one introduction a week.

Matt:                Right, but what I mean by enough is asking for an introduction.

Josh:                 I have not been doing that at all.

Matt:                At all, huh? Yeah.

Josh:                 Yeah, I did it once and I got five names from the person I asked.

Matt:                Right. The struggle with my thing, Josh, is asking because it’s really tough sometimes for me to even ask, because sometimes I’ll ask for the introduction, sometimes I’ll just ask for a coffee meeting.

I will tell you one thing I did, I think I even put this in my book, when I sold my agency, the first thing I did was go on LinkedIn and send messages to people saying, “Hey, I made a big shift in my business. I would love to catch up and have this catch up calls.” I did that on LinkedIn in one week’s time and the next week, I had 51 catch up calls with people just to hear what they’re doing and let them hear what I’m doing. There was no sales pitch. There was nothing to come out of it but I asked for a catch-up call. And so, asking is sometimes very hard for people. It is very hard for me, at times, to ask. I would encourage you, this week, to ask four or five people for an introduction.

Josh:                 Yeah. No, I think that that’s the best advice I’ve had, by the way, on marketing – probably, in the last six months. I have spent a gazillion dollars on all sorts of different marketing strategies. This one, I know, works really well.

You helped me figure out the distinction between how to ask for other people’s help. It’s not for “send me to somebody who can write me a check.” Send me to somebody who I can help get a better outcome in their life.

Matt:                Yeah, and if you know who that person is, specifically, that’s even better.

Josh:                 That’s even better.

Matt:                When you ask, you are, in a way, being vulnerable. People respond to that. They know that, “Oh, life isn’t Facebook social media world that we all kind of purport it to be sometimes.” And so, asking shows vulnerability and allows you to open up a little bit more. I think people respond to that.

Josh:                 I think you’re absolutely right.

Matt, this has been a really, really useful conversation. For those of you who are listening to this podcast episode, this is something that I would hope you’re going to pay a ton of attention to. There’s two takeaways for me, out of the conversation we’ve had today, Matt. The first is, be a connector. If you’re a connector, other people are going to know, like, trust you and feel warm feelings towards you. That’s for sure. The second is, you have to ask for introductions to people that you can help but not make it into a sales call. If you do those two things, that’s great.

Matt, we have about two minutes left, tell me about your book. What’s it about? Where can people find it? All that kind of good stuff. And then, let us know where people can find you.

Matt:                Absolutely.

My book is called More…: Word of Mouth Referrals, Lifelong Customers and Raving Fans. It’s a tactical book. In the first couple of chapters, I define this thing I call your personal care package which is how you connect with others and share your gifts in your world with others. And then, there are 40 or so lessons and tips in the book about different things you can do. This one happens to be Birthdays Beyond Facebook and how to send a birthday card to people. In case you missed Josh’s 66th birthday on October 13th, then you can send him a birthday card. You can pick this up on Amazon. It’s under More. It’s also ebook, paperback. Audible is now in production. That’s exciting.

If you’re interested in learning more about me, you can go to breakthrough-champion.com, mattwardspeaks.com. You can also find me on Facebook. I’m running the Facebook group Get More Word of Mouth Referrals which is a group where we share ideas and strategies on how to give and care more about other people that results in more word of mouth referrals.

Josh:                 Cool.

Matt, thanks so much for your time.

I also have an offer for you. Below this, I’m going to add a link to this Facebook Live and it’ll also be under the podcast. It’s called Cracking the Cash Flow Code. I put together the five success stages you have to go through to crack the cash flow code in your business. It’s a one-page infographic for you so you can find out where you are on that continuum of filling what we call the four buckets of financial independence.

This is Josh Patrick. You’ve been with Matt Ward. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:         You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at jpatrick@askjoshpatrick.com.

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

Topics: sustainable business podcast, trust, Sustainable Business, referrals, thankfulness, introductions, reciprocity, consistency, word of mouth, word of mouth marketing plan, matt ward

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