Do you just walk into the store and make your first purchase of any products or services? You most likely will if it doesn’t cost you significantly or if it’s consumable goods. But if you’re purchasing, say a car or electronic gadgets, chances are you’ll ask someone else for opinions. You could also go online and read reviews of the products. That’s word-of-mouth!
Most of us would think that it’s the advertisement that you see or hear that sells a product or service. Not necessarily! Word-of-mouth is proven to be one of the most effective marketing tools for decades. Now it’s even more important than ever with the change of retail landscape. The number of online shoppers is on the rise and it will continue rising for decades to come.
This is good news for small business owners and startups that don’t have a lot of advertising budget to reach a large audience. Even if you do, you might not want to spend that kind of money when you can save a lot more tapping into your own networks to generate positive word-of-mouth. For now, your best source comes from your satisfied customers. They could be your friends or acquaintances.
The question here is: Are they actively promoting your business to their networks? The challenge to address here is: How do you motivate them to provide positive word-of-mouth? The answer is: You need to make it easier and rewarding for them to do so.
Here are the 7 effective ways you can use to get your happy customers to bring in more customers to your business through positive word-of-mouth.
1. Ask for referrals…all the time!
This doesn’t apply only to your customers, you can also ask for referrals from people who don’t buy from you. When your prospect tells you that he/ she is not interested, before you thank them and move on to the next prospect, ask them if they can think of anyone who might be interested. If they do, ask them for referrals.
When you ask for referrals, you would want your customers or prospects to give you the contacts directly. It’s best if your customers can inform their contacts that you might be contacting them. Most people, including me, will be hesitant to do so because I don’t want the people I know getting ambushed by salespeople in my name. I also don’t want my contact details to be given out without my permission. So, the best way to make them feel at ease is to get the contacts by asking your customers, “Is it okay if I mention your name when I call them or would you prefer to let them know beforehand that I might be calling them?”
Always remember that whenever you ask for referrals, do it ethically and don’t be overly aggressive. That will just generate negative word-of-mouth instead of a positive one.
2. Remind them
Remember that this is your own business. They’re not obliged to constantly ‘advertise’ for you. You need to keep them posted on the latest offers or promotions you have. You can also keep in touch by providing them with something valuable to them. In my case, I always send customers who purchased health supplements from me articles or information related to health and fitness. This will not only encourage them to recommend you to others, they will be more inclined to keep buying from you.
3. Provide resources and guide
You cannot expect your customers to know your business details in and out. I have only a few customers who know my products very well because they love details and want to know what they’re buying. I also have customers who know that my products will benefit them but otherwise, don’t know how to explain them with all the technical jargons involved.
In order to make it effortless for your customers to refer you, you can do the following:
- Provide the link to your website or related websites that contains information about your products/ services.
- Give them some of your business cards so they can give your contacts to others right away when they recommend you.
- Send them FAQs on your products/ services.
- Get them to describe their experience with your products/ services so that you can turn them into testimonials.
4. Reward them
It can be as simple as a thank you, buying them meals, getting them small gifts or vouchers, If they’re also business owners themselves, the best reward that you can give them is a referral back to them.
5. Use social media
Everything gets viral in the social media. It’s the best platform for word-of-mouth. You need to get connected to your customers so that you can engage with them from time to time. Connect with your customers in social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube so they can receive updates from you constantly.
6. Invite them to events
Involve your customers in your networking activities. You can invite them to seminars, talks, or outings regardless of whether or not it’s related to your business. That’s when we get to know them on a personal level, which will be explained next.
7. Get to know them personally
You heard it a lot, “Don’t mix business with pleasure.” It’s true to a certain extent especially when a personal relationship will cloud your judgment in business settings, for example, a boss and a subordinate, a doctor and a patient, a lawyer and a client, etc. However, in most cases, you have a lot more to earn if you make the effort to know your customers on a personal level. It makes great sense if you’re a business owner, network marketer, insurance agent, financial planner or a business coach.
By getting to know them, you discover more about their needs, wants and interests. You become part of their life and they become part of yours. Not only that you’re securing a lifetime business deal with this person, you have a lifetime friendship, which money can’t buy.