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When people talk about you, other people get interested, so developing a system to get people talking is essential for every business owner.

Here are some of my favorite ways to generate word-of-mouth referrals:

Free samples. Everybody loves free stuff. Sampling is a great strategy that businesses use to get customers to try the product before they buy. When customers like what you have to offer, especially consumables like food, health and beauty products, and other consumables, they won’t hesitate to tell their family and friends.

Partnerships. Forming strategic alliances are one of the best ways to build your small business. For example, if you have a computer training business you could form an alliance with a computer repair company. Look for partners that already have access to the market that you want to reach. If you can partner with a company that already serves your target market, the customer will naturally trust that source for credible referrals.

Over-deliver. The fail-proof way to get people talking about you in a good way is to under-promise and over-deliver. If your customer expects to receive his or her order in seven days, give a surprise upgrade and deliver it in three days. When your customer places an online order that’s over a certain dollar amount, send him or her a free gift with purchase. Brainstorm with your team to come up with ideas that will deliver that “wow factor” to your customers.

Ask for testimonials. Turn your happy customers into an unpaid sales force. After successfully delivering your products or services, invite the customer to give you a testimonial. The best testimonials are video testimonials that you can share on your website, on social media, or even in your advertising. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations, and make sure you give customers a way to give you a testimonial on your business website. Be sure to get written permission to use the testimonial in various channels.

Share customer stories. People don’t want to hear about your business, they want to hear how you can solve their problem. Get results for your customers, and then tell their stories. For example, weight-loss companies often use before and after photos of a customer who has achieved good results. You can use this same practice to demonstrate how your services have made a difference in the lives of others. Show before and after photos of your services, or show how your product delivers visible results.

Automate the ask. Don’t assume that people are going to suggest others go to your place of business. Make it easy for them. Within seven days of doing business with someone, send them an email message, automatically asking for a referral. Solicit honest feedback. Ask them what their experience was like, and be sure to include a link to your website, business Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media site with the request that they give you a testimonial.

What methods have you used to generate word-of-mouth in your business? Share them in our comments section.

IMAGE: Shutterstock

Last updated: Jun 8, 2014

MELINDA EMERSON: Melinda F. Emerson, also known as, SmallBizLady, is one of America’s leading small business experts. She is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She publishes a resource blog and hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs.

Source: Generating Word-of-Mouth WOW


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