I live in Chicago. Back in April, I was teaching a class on the second floor of my local community college when the sky turned pitch black and then we hear golf ball size hail hitting the windows. It was loud and freaky. My car was sitting outside, but must have been shielded by a building and the direction of the hail coming from the west. I had no damage and I was happy and relieved (but then I was rear ended a few weeks later… go figure?).
What ensued was a parade of people ringing our door bell, calling our phone and chasing you down the street when you are walking your dog looking to get up on your roof and inspect for hail damage, and give you a free estimate. I told them ALL we were fine, primarily because I did not know them and had a fear of being scammed or plain taken advantage of.
A few weeks later I was golfing with some buddies and both mentioned their roofs had hail damage. I said mine looked fine (there is no way in hell I was going up there to look and I would not even know what hail damage looked like). My friend Roger said “Dewd, I am going to send my guy over to look at it.” I thought nothing about it until 3 months later when Roger called me and said “Dewd are you home? I am coming over with Matt from ABC Roofing.” Matt explained that it took this long because they were overwhelmed with insurance claims and this was the soonest they could take a look. So Matt climbs up on the roof and (did I mention there is no way in hell I was going up there?) and came down with pictures. He said we needed a new roof and the insurance adjuster agreed to that and new gutters and downspouts.
So what does that have to do with viral marketing? EVERYTHING! After the initial inspection, and during the replacement, I posted to our neighborhood Facebook group. Every time I walked our dog Buddy Guy, I was stopped by neighbor after neighbor asking for the roofing companys phone number. So let me dissect what happened…
- Fear Creates Inaction – When the parade of sales people come dinging at your your doorbell (sometimes 2-3 people per day) and the calls start flooding in from India call centers, you begin to think that this is a scam. If you let one of those people on your roof, they have the power to push you into filing a claim and the ball is in their court to guilt you into helping make them money or you may have to pay $18,000 out of pocket for something you don't think or know you need.
- Trust Begets Trust – When a friend or trusted entity has the same experience as you and has used a proven and trusted source, you tend to open up your mind and start to explore options. Having two golfing buddies have a positive experience with the same company, gave me even more confidence to let them at least climb up on the roof to look (did I mention there is no way in hell I was going up there?). To enhance that process, you have to be open minded and willing to listen (although sometimes counterintuitive, it paid off for me in this case).
- Sharing Is Caring – By sharing pictures and posts on social media, people in my neighborhood starting calling ABC because they know, like and trusted me from past posts and advice. It started by me trusting my golfing buddies, and that extended to a half dozen or more people calling. It was not easy. Some people needed to have them back two or three times to convince those stubborn insurance adjustors to place the claim, but having our roof replaced first helped prime the pump and convince some more reluctant insurance companies to help neighbors replace their truly damaged roofs.
Matt pulled his truck over when I was walking Buddy Guy today and said, he has never had another client get him so much work before. I explained that I was a Social Media Consultant and that's what we do. It went viral because of years of laying the groundwork of trust. If they just rang doorbells they would have met the same fate as others. What we did was harvest trust through relationships. Advertising costs money, relationships costs time. You can advertise to 1000 people and get 1-2 jobs, or you can harvest trust from one connected person for (almost) free and get 6-10 jobs.
Once you learn that trust takes time, commitment and integrity, you start to invest in relationships. Quality relationships can reduce cost and increase profits. That, my friends is the power of Social Networking. Advertising creates Transactional Sales. Relationships create Trusted Business Partnerships! Don't get me wrong… advertising has led to some long lasting relationships, but it takes time and effort to build trust!
Do you have a similar story or experience? Share away!