Marketers as a rule don't seem to attribute enough value word of mouth as a channel. That doesn't mean they don't see how powerful it is, Marketers are clever folk, they just don't spend enough time thinking about it. That might be because it isn't percieved as a marketing channel or because it is difficult for marketers to influence and track.
Yet in professional services especially, word of mouth contributes hugely to the growth of businesses.
We saw this in full effect with Covid-19, clients of professional services were anxiously looking for any and all information on how their businesses would be affected. There was a 136% increase in the consumption of professional content in one month.
That wasn't driven by organic search or social promotion, it was driven by referral traffic and direct traffic through peer to peer content sharing.
It is fully possible for marketers to create an environment where word of mouth is encouraged and assisted. There are two things to get the right to facilitate word of mouth:
Be visible where your clients are
People will not refer you unless they are thinking about you, no matter how positive their experiences. Bring your firm to front of mind with regular impressions of your brand on the sites your customers are active on.
Audit your client list, research them online, and see if they are posting or commenting in a social space online and make your play there.
Pay to win in that space early, but build your organic reach if possible as well for more long term value. Gain followers for your experts and your company page. Ideally, you want to drive subscribers to your blog to disconnect yourself from social media's preference for promoted content. You are looking for the maximum number of impressions per month among exactly the clients and prospects you sell to.
The goal here is to give your advocates as many opportunities as possible to recognise your firm in a positive light and to recommend your content or your firm to other buyers.
Provide something clients are likely to share
You can't be putting just anything in front of people and expect them to recommend your firm. Nobody outside your firm is going to share an update about your new hires, your new office or a deal that you won.
There is lots of research on what kind of content works. LinkedIn has some good research that I talk about more here but essentially you want content that is useful for your audience and digestible enough that they can consume it and feel able to share it with their peers or colleagues.
Delicious, snackable insights are your friend.
The best content for this strategy is short, client-focused blog articles, videos, or podcasts, written by people that actually know their stuff (at least as much as your audience) and can address problems that your clients and prospects have now.
Lastly, measure the consumption of your content. How far through do people get on your blog post; how much of your podcast do they listen to; how long are they watching that video of your fee earners; what IP addresses are pinging on your website and from what geographies does the majority originate? Knowing these sorts of details informs your next campaign and helps supercharge the overall goal: getting people talking positively about you and your brand.