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Building Your Business Through Word of Mouth

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 27 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
Build Business Word Of Mouth Customer

The best form of marketing is word of mouth customer referrals because a third party that’s impressed with your service will always sound more honest than paid-for advertising.

While you can’t force word of mouth customer referrals (if you could everyone would be doing it – the fact that you can’t is what makes it so authentic) but you can certainly encourage it.

Think about it – if a friend said to you, “I went to the new beauty salon in the high street and I came out walking on air – it was the best massage I’ve ever had!” - You’re far more likely to try it than if you saw an advert for the same place in the local paper, even if it said the same thing.

The latest trends in viral marketing are essentially just advertising and PR agencies trying to copy the very natural word of mouth referrals that customers respond so well to, so you can seek new business by trying to encourage them as long as you don’t go too far and make it look contrived.

Get Your Product Right

First things first – you must have a good product. You can try to build your business through word of mouth as much as you like, but it will be wasted effort if you haven’t got the right product. People naturally want to talk about a product or service that’s been great – so focus on that first. Look at what the competition is doing and see your niche – don’t just copy or undercut, do something better.

Get Your Service Right

As well as having a great product, you need to be efficient and easy to work with. We’ve all been into those shops where the window looked great but the sales assistant makes you feel like you’re in their way. You want your customers to feel important – whether your business is a high street shop, restaurant, online business or whatever.

You must train your staff to put the customer first and develop your own ‘house style’ of communication to the customer that’s appealing and appropriate to your business. Customers are more likely to speak well of your business if they feel good about using your services or products – there’s a kind of reflected glory in passing that on to friends and family. Answer the phone, emails and letters in a suitable manner, be open and friendly and, above all, don’t act like your customers are an annoyance!

Encourage Referrals

The very nature of referrals is that people want to share good news. If you start offering people money or gifts for customer referrals, it all becomes a very different matter. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, because it does, but it must be done carefully. As long as you’ve got your products and service right, it’s OK.

Many recruitment agencies, for example, offer money or gift vouchers to candidates who recommend their services to a friend, which they receive when the friend finds work through the agency. That’s pretty open and honest.

You could also consider giving discounts or special offers to repeat customers that refer a friend. This is especially effective for online businesses because you can easily add in a promotional code that helps to track your customers and their friends.

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