Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways for a small business to attract new customers. It requires no expensive and time-consuming advertising or marketing campaigns, and uses the most trusted spokesperson you could ever find for your business-a satisfied client.
But while the power of word-of-mouth can drive business to your door, even if your marketing budget is nonexistent, don’t expect a marketing miracle to suddenly appear. Contrary to popular belief, word-of-mouth is not something that just happens. It might work that way for a few businesses. But for most it is a phenomenon that you, the business owner, can actually take steps to create and nurture. And it generally does not happen quickly, but rather over time as word has a chance to spread.
To help generate word of mouth, create a simple marketing message that is easy for people to pass along. If it’s not simple, it won’t pass the test. But make it specific to a real benefit or need, not something vague or general. If you can, include success stories or testimonials from real customers. These can have a tremendous pass-along impact.
To stimulate word of mouth, you might also consider asking customers for referrals and recommendations. And put your networking efforts into high gear. If you network and get to know people in your community or industry, they will think of you when they need your product or service. Join networking groups and local business organizations, and attend conferences. Donating your products or services to local charities can generate goodwill and get your name around.
Consider introductory discounts or free samples. People are more willing to try a new product or service if they can do so economically. Many small companies have jump-started sales through carefully controlled giveaways.
Above all, perhaps recognize that people will spread the word if you treat them well. Providing superior customer service and addressing problems quickly will help generate the word of mouth that you want.
SCORE Chicago is a nonprofit organization of more than 100 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to entrepreneurs and small business owners. You can set up an appointment at one of our 15 locations by clicking this link. Check our website www.scorechicago.org for details on our workshops or resources on topics of interest. Call 312-353-7724 for further information.
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