Be Specific – You Just Might Get
What You Ask For

I hear questions like these all the time:

“What’s up?”

“What’s been happening?”

“What’s new with you?”

Some people may answer, “Oh, nothing much.” But I see these questions as open invitations to talk about my writer’s life and to enlist help in spreading the word about my freelance business.

For example, the conversation might go something like this:

Friend: “Hey, what’s up?”

Me: “I just helped an amazing company by writing the content for their new website! I may even be writing an e-newsletter for them when they’re ready to get that going. Things are really going great for me as a freelance copywriter!”

Friend: “Wow! I didn’t know you did that kind of stuff.”

Me: “Well, shame on me for not telling you sooner! By the way, do you happen to know anybody who could use help with something like this? I’m actually still looking for new clients.”

Sometimes, my friend can’t think of anybody who needs my help. Sometimes, they DO know somebody.

Either way, they’re now thinking about it. They take a few of my business cards, and they’ll let me know if they come across anybody.

I take a few minutes to give them some tips on how to tell somebody else what I do, and I tell them the type of clients I’m looking for. And voilà …

I’ve enlisted them as one of my word-of-mouth ambassadors.

You can do this, too.

(By the way, I’m using “friend” to keep things simple. But your word-of-mouth ambassadors can also be family, colleagues, neighbors, co-workers, your kids’ teachers, coaches, the barista at your favorite coffee shop … the list is endless.)

4 Steps to Enlist Your Own Word-of-Mouth Ambassadors

1. Be Specific About WHAT You Do

Do you specialize in a certain type of project? Websites, social media, grants, case studies, autoresponders, B2B, etc.?

If so, your friend – your new ambassador – needs to know it.

Like I did in the scenario above, give examples so they know exactly what you’re talking about. Make it real.

2. Be Specific About WHOM You Do It For

Do you target a particular niche market? Do you work for clients in a specific industry? These are important facts for an ambassador to know.

Remember, you simply don’t know whom someone else may know. If you’d like an introduction to someone specific, mention it! Even if your friend doesn’t know your dream prospect, maybe he or she knows someone else who does.

So name names – of companies or individuals – you just might get lucky!

3. Be Specific About WHY Your Services Are Beneficial

Tell your friends some of the benefits your clients enjoy from working with you. You’re not trying to “sell” your friends here, you’re giving them the information they need to sell you to others.

We copywriters know the difference between features and benefits, but the average person – your ambassador – may not.

Give them examples. Share a success story. Show them.

4. Be Specific About HOW Your Friends Can Help

What can your friend do that would be most helpful? Pass out your business card? Drop off a brochure? Provide an introduction?

It’s easier for friends to help if they know exactly what to do. And when you tell them, you won’t be wasting their time or yours with them doing something that isn’t really helpful.

Remember to ASK for help!

How many times have you heard, or even said yourself, “Well, I could’ve done that, but you never asked”?

Don’t let this happen to you! In my experience, people are happy to help when they know exactly what they can do. But they won’t know unless you tell them.

If you can help them help you, everybody wins!

The important thing is to start sharing what you do with the people you’re interacting with. Your word-of-mouth advertising campaign has to start somewhere – that somewhere is with you.

Provide help in return … or even first!

If you’re asking for help, be sure to return the favor!

While people are happy to help, they’re NOT happy if they feel that they’re being taken advantage of. A strategy to prevent feelings of resentment is to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial right from the start.

Brian Tracy says it beautifully:

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, "What's in it for me?"

To be truly successful, we need to ask how we can be helpful in return and then remember to look for those opportunities.

For example, when I’ve been talking about my business with someone, and I give him or her my business card, I always ask for one of theirs in return. I also ask about all the specific information that I’ve just shared, but as it relates to their business and how I can help them.

I keep a business card holder full of my referral partners’ business cards with me at all times so that I can instantly give an introduction or a referral if the opportunity arises.

It’s amazing how often opportunity knocks now that I’ve started looking and listening for it! I’ve been able to spread the word and give referrals to people in industries ranging from real estate, financial planning, and insurance to gourmet gift baskets, screen printing, and sports psychology.

Word-of-mouth advertising and referrals are beautiful things! Powerful … effective … low- to no-cost …

The key is to be specific. Try it! You really just might get what you ask for … what you need … to grow your business and achieve success.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: August 13, 2012

4 Responses to “Be Specific – You Just Might Get What You Ask For”

  1. Hi Michele, Awesome article! I'm guilty of answering, "Oh, nothing much," when someone asks how I'm doing... Not anymore! This is great advice! Thank you!

    Christina GillickAugust 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

  2. When people ask one of those generic greeting-questions like how are you, I usually answer with some outlandishly positive response ("fantastic", "radiant", "amazing"...) Maybe I'll give your method a try and say something that's more constructive toward achieving my goals.

    Jeff KonturAugust 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

  3. Fantastic Michele! I needed the reminders and also some new ideas how to have WMAs Word of Mouth Ambassadors. Love it. Thanks much.

    Thanks Viola

    Aunti ViJune 9, 2015 at 9:37 pm


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