What I’m about to share with you is mind-boggling. I want you to take a deep breath and hold onto your seat for fear of levitation.

Your customers know other people who could be your customers.

Sure, the annual Cleanfax survey indicates that referral marketing is the best way to get more customers, but talk to some business owners and they get many of those referrals by default. They do a good job and so word gets around. But think of what would happen if they had a plan.

The Kevin Bacon game

I think most of us have played or heard of the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game where one is challenged to find the shortest path from any Hollywood actor to Kevin Bacon within six steps.

If you are confused because you have never played, let me simplify. Your goal is to name a string of actors from the first one that starts the game, all the way to Kevin Bacon. Each actor must have worked in a movie with another to move forward.

Stop scratching your head, wondering where I’m getting at. I think you see the angle… each one of your customers knows someone else, who knows someone else… basically, you can reach a lot of people from just one contact, one happy customer.

Shrinking degrees

While the old six degree game might be interesting, it seems that with communications the way they are today, it is outdated data.

degrees of separationI found one source that indicates it might be closer to five degrees of separation, the number of links from one random person to another. Wait a second. I just Googled it. I found another source that says it is really closer to four degrees of separation. Here’s a quote from an article by The New York Times: “Using data on the links among 721 million Facebook users, a team of scientists discovered that the average number of acquaintances separating any two people in the United States was 4.37.”

In your local marketplace, this number is probably even smaller. It has to be. People know other people. They connect easily on social media. If you have a customer who works at an office, and let’s say there are 50 employees, your customer will be connected to a handful of them, and the spider web just grows from there.

So are you using social media to take advantage of these shrinking degrees of separation?

Many wonder what they can do with their favorite social media platform in order to get more customers. Don’t make the mistake of just posting stuff. Be engaging.

Try just this one thing: Create a Facebook contest. Take a picture of a neat building, or a nice lobby in a local hotel, something you can post and people can identify the location. Make a nice, worthwhile prize package for the winner.

What will be the result? People love contests. They will talk about it, especially the winner — that is, if the prize is worth talking about. And since your customer knows someone else, who knows someone else… well, you get the picture.

I have some specific ideas for your contest. If you want them, drop me an e-mail at JCross@Cleanfax.com and I’ll send them to you.

This is just one way to take advantage of the shrinking degrees of separation in your community. There are others. Create a plan and get those referrals coming in.

Please send your comments, thoughts or article ideas to Jeff Cross, senior editor of Cleanfax magazine: JCross@NTPMedia.com.