The other night, I watched the Netflix documentary Bikram…
…About the infamous yogi, who used his training sessions to lure vulnerable women into his trap. The stories around Bikram were harrowing. Once his victims were locked inside his yoga classes, there was no easy way to escape.
And when the news did finally break, his victims were met with an onslaught of vitriol and hatred. Bikram’s disciples believed he was a God. They were so entangled in his web, they did not even want to entertain the idea that he was a monster.
Doing so would be the end of everything they believed in.
Which brings me to the big persuasive lesson…
Virtually all of Bikram’s following was built through word-of-mouth. Licensed yoga teachers would send Bikram more promising students from their classes. These students paid a hefty sum to study under him as hopeful teachers.
Once they were trained, their entire livelihood depended on winning Bikram’s approval.
It was an incestuous cycle, which kept him stocked with a steady stream of victims. And he went decades before anyone said anything.
Because their own reputations depended on keeping the illusion going.
Word of mouth can be used in terrible ways. Bikram is proof of that. But it’s also the most powerful marketing weapon you can use.
And if you use it for good, it can make your business more resilient.
Your customers become your army of salesmen.
One good way of doing this is simply to ask for a referral when a customer sends you a testimonial. Suppose you have a customer who is ecstatic with what you’ve given them. They sent you their positive review, because they want to rave about you to other people.
Don’t waste that energy.
Ask them if they know anyone else who might benefit from your offer.
The customer you want is just like the customer you already have.
If they give you a name, you can then write to your new prospect. You can start your letter like so:
“Your friend, <<NAME>> mentioned you to me.”
This is a great way of getting their attention – and keeping them hooked all the way through to your offer.
And if you’re looking for more devious – though strictly ethical – ways to get sales, a good place to start is here.