There’s a comic that’s so good I felt like I had to share it with you. Not just because it’s funny (although it hits just close enough to home for me that I find it hilarious), but because it ties into work I do with a number of my clients.

You can find it the comic HERE (with full credit to The Oatmeal).

If you can’t read it, the gist of the comic is simple: If you’re somewhat tech savvy and help a friend or family member with a computer problem, that quickly spirals into A) Them believing that you are functionally equivalent to Bill Gates in terms of brilliance and computer expertise, and B) Them expecting that you will be their one person tech team forever.

There’s hilarity to the situation as described in The Oatmeal’s comic, but there’s also a powerful lesson to be learned. Namely, how closely does the perception of your clients match your actual expertise & capabilities?

More importantly, how would your clients describe you if they had introduced you to someone else?

If they had a specific problem, would they know to call you?

We are surrounded by our company every day, and we know it inside and out. We know exactly what we do to help our clients, what goes on behind the scenes to give them great experiences, and what we’re working on to make their lives even better. Very often, they do not. As I often joke with my clients “Very few people are staying up late at night trying to think of reasons to do more business with you, or how to put more money in your pocket.”

And so we often end up in a situation where not only do our clients not know about many of the great things we do for them (or can do for them), but they also think we can do things that are well outside our scope. This trouble compounds when they refer others to us with these faulty assumptions (We’ve talked time and again about the importance of minimizing the Expectations Gap, and here is another critical application of that).

Luckily, there is a way to deal with this. It utilizes a secret about word-of-mouth marketing that almost everyone misses the boat on.

You can create the right kind of “word-of-mouth” yourself. In fact, if you’re not getting a lot of referrals, it’s likely because you don’t have a process in place to make them happen.

You create your own zealots and evangelists. But if your clients are referring you as something you’re not, then it’s not making the whole ‘word-of-mouth’ thing really that effective.

Here’s how you do it.

First, answer this question: If you got to write the script that your clients used when they referred others to you, what would that script be?

Next, find out what your clients are actually saying when they refer you. Find some of your referring clients, and ask them to tell you how they introduce you to others. If it’s appropriate, you can also use this in combination with actively asking them for additional referrals (As a side note, I’ve developed a referral generation strategy based on my client work that I’ll be unveiling within the next few weeks, so keep your eyes open for that!)

Now, just compare what’s actually being said to what you wish was being said, and find ways to communicate the messaging you want to your clients (especially those who refer!)

Often during this exercise, you’ll find that clients are using a script that you would run screaming from. It’s wonderful that they’re referring others to you, but you wish they didn’t mention that time you took a call at 3:00 am to personally service their account because you like sleeping at 3:00 am and don’t want to create that expectation for every new client…

Your challenge for this week:

Create the ideal introduction for your organization.

Write 250-300 words (by Friday) of powerful introduction material that you think would convince someone to at least want to learn more about you.

Bonus Challenge: Approach a client that you know has given you a referral or made a recommendation to someone else in the past, and ask them the following question, “out of curiosity, when you’re telling someone about your experiences with us, how do you do it? What do you say?”

See how closely their description matches your own. If it’s close, congrats! If not, you might have more work to do in this area.