How do you become known? In a digital world, what is marketing? 

Most people view marketing as a cost. A good approach to marketing starts with the impact you make on clients. Our tendency is to think about marketing from the perspective of attracting new clients. For many of us, our biggest opportunity is with the people we know. If we can impact their lives, they will willingly introduce us to the people they know. When you do that, you are marketing. 

It starts with the impact you make on the lives of those people you already serve. Take, for example, the story of Bill Butler. Butler Inc. started from very humble beginnings in 1975. When Bill listed his phone number for the first time in 1994 his company enjoyed an annual revenue of $20 million. Today, that figure is more than $200 million. 

Think about that for a moment. When Bill first listed his company’s phone number it had an annual revenue of $20 million. How did he achieve that with an unlisted number? That would be like today not having a website or any social media accounts. Most of us would think Bill was crazy. 

It is easy to think that Bill was not marketing. If you are getting business, you are marketing. Bill focused on doing high quality work. He built a reputation and, as a result, he built relationships. 

Like many of our clients, Bill grew his company by focusing on doing high quality work. The more high-quality work he did, the more referrals he got. Bill never wanted a big company. He wanted to do work he could be proud of. He grew his company through word of mouth.

In today’s technology-driven world, word of mouth is still the most powerful form of marketing. Marketing is not about pushing your products and services onto people. It is about how you are known. It is too easy to get distracted by all the trappings of the push approach to marketing. We teach our clients that you need 6-8 marketing and promotional strategies. 

If most entrepreneurs simply focused on growing their business through two degrees of separation (the people they know and the people those people know) they could grow a successful business. 

If you’re known in your social circle as someone who does high quality work, people won’t hesitate when you ask for introductions, recommendations, and referrals. When people think about marketing, they often start at the wrong end of the tunnel. Start with the impact you make for those you serve. 

When you do high quality work, people will willingly introduce, recommend, and refer you. When they refer you, chances are they will be referring you to people who are similar to them. The goal is to replicate people who meet or exceed your ideal client profile. When you work with people you enjoy working with, you do better work. They also introduce you to people in their social circle. This creates a virtuous cycle. 

If we return to Bill Butler, we can get a sense of how committed he was to the impact he made on his clients. As his company grew, he noticed that the quality of their work was not as high as it could be. Butler and his team began to turn away work so they could focus on doing better work. The more they turned away work, the more they got work. They had become known for their high-quality work. 

Most people think of marketing as advertising or pushing their product. When you first focus on creating high quality, you become known for the work you do. Other people share your work. They tell their friends and those friends tell their friends. In the Bill Butler story, if people wanted to work with Butler Inc. they had to get the number from a past client.  

No matter what business you’re in, if your reputation precedes you, you have moved from pursuing to attracting clients. 

How do you want to be known? What is your strategy for becoming known? What would it take to redefine your performance?