“All of our jobs have come from word-of-mouth advertising.” My manager (first job I had) told me this with a huge smile on his face as if this were something to be proud of. Less than 2 years later they were out of business. Every week I hear the same thing. Business owners proudly exclaiming to me that word-of-mouth advertising is how they get most, if not all, of their jobs. Each time I cringe. I’m not against word-of-mouth advertising. I think it’s great to have referrals. At mHelpDesk we get a lot of referrals from existing customers telling their friends to try mHelpDesk. But we don’t rely solely on it. Word-of-mouth advertising has it’s place in marketing. It’s free and it’s extremely effective since people buy from people they trust. However, using it as your only source of advertising is a huge mistake. It will slowly and silently kill your company. Before you know it, the referrals dry up and you’ll find yourself caught off guard wondering how you’re going to pay the bills. Our marketing strategy has always been diverse. It’s much like investing where you don’t want to put all your eggs into one basket. We use a combination of Word-of-mouth Advertising, Paid Search Traffic, Organic Search Traffic, Software Listings, Email Campaigns, Forum Sponsorships, Webinars, and several more. Each strategy can even be broken down into more granularity. But the idea is that we need to be proactive about driving new customers to our front doors, instead of waiting around for them to show up as a referral. Marketing is an investment. It’s a prerequisite to growing a business. In fact, when things are tight and you need to trim expenses, your marketing expenses should be the absolute last thing you turn off. You should turn off your lights before you turn off your marketing. Marketing is what drives new business and new dollars into your business.