Word of mouth marketing and business referrals are not only powerful ways to grow your small business, but they may be among the most cost effective ways, too. All it takes for effective word of mouth marketing is a happy customer who feels compelled to share his or her story with others.
If you can create an army of happy customers shouting about your company from rooftops, you can find yourself with more business than you can handle. This is entirely possible to do with word of mouth marketing.
Some instances of word of mouth marketing happen on its own, with little or no involvement from you. A happy client may just feel compelled to spread the word about you and your business. But you don't need to wait for your clients to do it on their own. There are a few things you can do to encourage a client to promote your business through word of mouth marketing.
1. Shatter Expectations
We know that in order to benefit from effective word of mouth marketing, you need an exceptionally happy customer. How do you make a customer that happy? It's not enough to do excellent work or provide a top-notch product; you need to do more. Here are some things you can try:
- Provide responsive, comprehensive and consistent customer service
- Send your clients relevant information that is meant to fulfill a need or solve a problem, not promote your services
- Get to know your clients and their businesses so you can offer the most well-rounded service possible
- Ask for feedback and do something with the results to help you improve
2. Ask for Referrals
Sometimes, all it takes to encourage a referral is a request. Explain what you hope to accomplish, what your long-term goals are for new business and how referrals fit into your plan. Then, make it very easy for your clients to refer you by providing all of the information they may need -- your product/service list, your contact information, relevant links, business cards, brochures, etc.
Perhaps most importantly, make sure you individually thank each client for every single referral they send your way.
3. Identify Influencers
Among your client base and in your professional and social networks, there are people who garner the attention of others without even trying. They are magnetic, respected and heard. These are the people you want supporting you.
Reach out to these influencers to ask for support. Having them as your megaphone getting the message to otherwise hard-to-reach people can be invaluable to your word of mouth marketing campaign.
4. Refer Your Own Clients
Do you see the value in what your clients are providing to their own clients? Do you know a few people who could benefit from your clients' services? Make an introduction, promote relevant products/services to your network, and refer your clients to others whenever appropriate. This will start a trend of mutual referrals that can grow and benefit both you and your clients.
5. Focus on Relationships
It may sound simple, but developing meaningful relationships with clients and colleagues will make it easier for people to recommend you. Be genuine, respectful and honest, and put the emphasis on relationships. You may be surprised how this can lead to referrals.
Just like any other type of marketing, effective word of mouth requires a marketing plan and a targeted approach. Use this marketing plan tutorial to get started with incorporating word of mouth into your marketing strategy.