When it comes to marketing your small business, word of mouth – or WOM – is the oldest trick in the book. Businesses have an overflowing menu of promotion options, from direct mail campaigns and social media to dedicated email blasts and branded swag. However, as small business owners look to expand their brand presence, they must ensure that they are top of mind not just in the digital space, but also “IRL” – in real life. Word of mouth is an effective tool for generating buzz by sparking customer interest, excitement, and conversation.
Statistics back this up: 92% of people rely on their family, friends, and colleagues for referrals, and a whopping 85% of small businesses say their customers discover them via WOM. If you are looking for proven tactics to market your small business, here is a guide to some “WOMderful” best practices.
1 – Provide superb customer service.
Word of mouth can be advantageous or deadly: customers will only extol your company’s virtues if they have a consistently positive experience. If news spreads that your business has unprofessional or incompetent customer service, would-be clients will think twice about giving you their business. On the other hand, if your company is transparent in its interactions and boasts a sterling customer service reputation, clients are likely to remain loyal and refer you to others, even if they call, email, or Tweet about the occasional bad experience. When it comes to delivering stellar customer service, the golden rule applies: treat your customers and prospects the way you would like to be treated.
2 – Partner with a charitable organization.
If you are looking to boost word of mouth, consider partnering with a non-profit organization that reflects the mission and values of both your small business and your target audience. Aligning with a charitable organization helps establish positive associations that show your business in a caring light, creating a sense of trust and credibility with potential customers or clients. In addition, charitable activities give you something valuable to talk about on social media, in your own email marketing, in press releases, and on your website – which will inspire dialogue among your customers.
3 – Engage with your followers.
Do your customers reply to your Instagram posts or leave comments on your blogs? Show them you care with some simple engagement. Thank them for their thoughts, like their comments, and offer help when they request it. Remember, word of mouth is all about people saying good things about your small business, and social media is where many of them are talking. Engaging with followers is an easy, effective way to keep the conversation going and keep tabs on what customers are saying about your business.
4 – Generate positive publicity.
Public relations is a cost-effective way of spreading the word and building credibility for your small business. Press coverage is a vital tool for promoting news about your company, and positive publicity puts you in the public eye and gives people a reason to talk about who you are and what you do. Utilize your marketing staff or hire a PR team to develop timely pitches and thought-provoking features about your company. Collaborating with local or national publications and online news sources to create articles that are shareable on your website and social platforms can help further engage curious customers.
5 – Incentivize WOM.
Some customers will spread the word about you on their own, but even more will do it if you offer a valuable incentive to show how much you appreciate their recommendations. Referral perks keep your current customers happy while expanding your network to include new prospects. Incentives for customer referrals can take many forms, from cash and store credit to free swag and exclusive access to upgrades or new products. Keep in mind that people who receive referrals are more likely to buy because they already know and trust their referral source.
6 – Grow your referral network.
The stronger your referral network is, the more referrals you’ll receive. Dedicate time to expanding your referral network by attending industry events, joining online communities like LinkedIn, and creating or seeking opportunities to help people learn and talk about your business. As a small business owner, you are an expert in your field. Sharing your knowledge and experience by leading a seminar, giving a talk, or teaching a class will highlight your skill set, broaden your audience, and establish you as a thought leader. Keep the conversation going afterwards by providing attendees with your company’s email or social media handles.
7 – Get involved in your community.
Today, it’s easy to conduct business behind a screen or over the phone. However, putting a face to a name, email, or brand can be an immensely powerful way to connect with your customers and get them talking about your products or services. To do this, small businesses need to get out of the office and into their communities. Is there a street fair or festival taking place where you’d be a welcome participant? Perhaps a community event that your business could co-sponsor? Reach out to your area Chamber of Commerce or small business association to find out what special events and promotions are going on in your area. Then brainstorm creative ways to get involved, meet new prospects, and keep people buzzing.
Having access to working capital financing can help you cover the costs of launching or expanding your marketing efforts without impacting existing cash flow. Summit Financial Resources offers custom financing solutions that use your accounts receivable and other assets as collateral.
We are not regulated like a bank, and we can structure more flexible deals, take more risks, and make funding decisions more quickly. This allows you to focus on meeting your WOM marketing goals today and invest in long-term business success.
Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.
Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.