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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Word-of-mouth? I practice word-of-wallet.

Cleaning out my wallet over the weekend, I noticed something unintentional about how I organize information.

My wallet is my tool for my most premium word-of-mouth marketing.

It’s filled with some of the best people I've done business with in my personal and professional life - people who have taken care of me, provided exceptional service, and worked hard with me to create successful outcomes.

I keep their information in my wallet because they're people that make me look better when I link them to others. They're responsive, reliable, and they will take care of anyone I send them as well as they did to me.

Some happen to work for companies whose business reputation is benefited by these outstanding employees. Some work for themselves, in which case their reputation is their business. All of them are front line service providers in whatever their field happens to be.

I carry their information in a distributable format - usually their business cards - so that when I meet someone needing the type of service they provide, I can hook them up with the best I know. In service encounters, a recommendation can establish a high expectation of an experience even for someone who has never had it before. I know that each of my "wallet contacts" embrace the high expectations I have of them (and that they've set with me) and that they are comfortable taking on the equally high expectations of the referred customers I send them.

I'm reasonable at keeping track of all the partners, peers, & clients I’ve worked with over the years. They’re in my address books, my phone, my social networks. While they may enter and re-enter my conscious at various points, they're never gone from my electronic subconscious.

But if you’ve provided exceptional service, to me or to others while I’ve been present, there’s a good chance I keep you close at hand, so that I can make myself look good by introducing people I care about to the best servicepeople I know.

I'm guessing that while others may not use the method I do, most people use a form of reference shorthand that accomplishes the same thing, and I'd be interested in hearing how others spread word-of-mouth about the exceptional service encounters they've experienced.

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