Business Tips from SCORE: Word of mouth marketing is key to business growth

·4 min read
Marc Goldberg
Marc Goldberg

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. For them to stay with you, despite the competition, you should never take them for granted.

Customers will leave you because the competition offered a product or service with better benefits or they changed locations or simply stopped needing your product or service. You can even bet your best customers at some point will leave you.

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 a specific strategy to encourage WOM. Word of mouth marketing is an effective and inexpensive way to promote, 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 buyers. But, this doesn’t happen without asking for a testimonial or referral.

When you display letters of recommendation for others to see, they take note, realizing they are not alone in reaching out to you. Google My Business is one of the best places, aside from your website, to post recommendations.

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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 give them a reason to talk about you.

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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 or offline. Networking is all about creating communities where you can share information and direct one another to new resources and learn.

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Become a knowledge leader.

One way to increase your positioning in the mind of buyers is to 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 WOM communications about you and your business:

  1. Provide top-notch products and services.

  2. Provide excellent customer service — exceed expectations. 

  3. Be friendly — smile.

  4. Thank your customers for their business. — It’s easy and free.

  5. Return after-sale calls as promptly as you did before the sale. If a customer calls with a complaint about your product or service, don’t argue with them or point fingers — solve it.

  6. Be personally visible to your market — attend chamber and networking events.

  7. Be active on social media — blog, join discussion groups.

  8. Add social share buttons to your website and email messages

  9. Promote your differentiators — that is why people will share your message.

  10. Thank people who refer business to you.

Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor. SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands. www.capecod.score.org, capecodscore@verizon.net or 508-740-4820. 

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Tips from SCORE: Word of mouth (WOM) marketing key to growth