Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is the key to growth

Marc L. Goldberg

Customers come and go to small businesses for a variety of reasons. In order for them to contact you to find a solution, they need to know you. In order for them to stay with you, despite the competition, you must never take them for granted.

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

Steve Strauss advises, “You can find new customers by showcasing the ones you currently have 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 speak positively about your business, it builds name recognition and trust that leads to sales.

Use testimonials to attract new customers.

Your best salespeople are happy customers. Getting them to offer a testimonial, which is an independent evaluation of your solution, impresses even the most skeptical new buyers. But this is not done without asking for a testimonial or a reference.

When you post letters of recommendation for others to see, they take notice, realizing they’re not the only ones reaching out to you. Google My Business is one of the best places besides your website to post recommendations.

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To keep referrals and recommendations coming in, create a referral system to entice customers to promote your brand. Whenever you post on social media, encourage followers to refer you or recommend your offerings.

Stay logged in.

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 on top. So when they have a need, they come to you.

Connecting is easy – create a monthly newsletter, a 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 fine.”

Your offers must exceed their expectations for them to refer or recommend you. But this is only the first step.

You need to encourage and amplify what your customers are saying about you. This happens 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 online or offline. Networking is about building communities where you can share information and connect to new resources and learn.

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Become a knowledge leader.

One way to increase your positioning in the minds of buyers is to share your knowledge so that others share it with their network. Lifelong learning is a value that not only enhances your brand, but also those with whom you are connected.

Janet Attard, ZenBusiness, offers these simple ideas for increasing 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 simple and free.
  5. Return after-sales calls as quickly as before the sale. If a customer calls you to complain about your product or service, don’t argue with them or point fingers, solve the problem.
  6. Be personally visible in your market – attend chamber and networking events.
  7. Be active on social media — blog, join discussion groups.
  8. Add social sharing buttons to your website and emails
  9. Promote your differentiators – that’s why people will share your message.
  10. Thank people who recommend business to you.

Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor. SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands. www.capecod.score.org, [email protected] or 508-740-4820.

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