Customers come and go to small businesses for a variety of reasons. In order for them to reach out to you for a solution they have to be aware of you, and for them to stay with you despite the competition is that you never take them for granted.
Steve Strauss advises, “you can find new customers by featuring the ones you have now on your website, social media and newsletter. And reward your existing customers when they refer new ones.” Although word of mouth (WOM) is a powerful marketing tool, most small business owners don’t have specific strategy to encourage WOM. Word of mouth marketing (WOM) is an effective and inexpensive way to advertise, attract and win over customers. When others talk positively about your business it builds name recognition and trust that lead to sales.
Use testimonials to attract new customers. Your best sales people are delighted customers. Getting them to offer a testimonial, which is an independent assessment of your solution impresses even the most skeptical of new customers. But… this doesn’t happen without asking for a testimonial or referral. Google My Business is one of the best place, aside from your website, to post recommendations.
To keep the referrals and recommendations coming, create a referral system to incentivize customers to promote your brand. Whenever posting to social media encourage followers to refer you or recommend your offerings.
Stay connected. Customers feel taken for granted when you only connect with them when you want their business. When you communicate with them regularly you become a knowledge leader and stay top of mind so when they have a need they come to you. Connecting is easy – create a monthly newsletter blog page on your website or create an email campaign. By communicating regularly with your customers you need to give them a reason to talk about you. Alisa Meredith advises that “no one will talk about you if your products and services are just OK.” Your offerings need to exceed their expectations in order for them to refer or recommend you. But this is just the first step.
You need to encourage and amplify what your clients are saying about you. This occurs when they take your call-to-action to share their recommendations and refer you to others. And you can spread the word by posting them in newsletters, social media posts and on your website.
Become a master networker. Go where your customers or potential customers are whether it be online in offline. Networking is all about creating communities where you can share information, direct one another to new resources and learn.
Become a knowledge leader. One way to increase your positioning in the mind of buyers is share your knowledge so others will share it to their network. Lifelong learning is a value that enhances not only your brand, but those with whom you are connected.
Janet Attard, ZenBusiness, offers these simple ideas to increase the WOM communications you are getting:
- Provide top-notch products and services.
- Provide excellent customer service.
- Be friendly.
- Thank your customers for their business.
- Return calls as promptly after you’ve made the sale as you did before.
- Be personally visible to your market.
- Be active in social media.
- Add social share buttons to your website and email messages
- Promote business’ differentiation.
- Thank people who refer business to you
Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor, SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands. www.capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 50/775-4884. Sources: Steve Strauss, Mr. Allbiz.com, Painless ways to grow your small business: Reward word-of-mouth advertising, tap into testimonials, USA Today. Alisa Meredith, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz5inlEj3_Q