One of the most common mistakes young businessmen make when jumping into their chosen fields is making the assumption that word of mouth advertising is something that happens by chance. Rest assured, it is not. While providing great customer service, competitive prices, and excellent products will give people something to talk about, it only takes one dissatisfied customer to equal a hundred satisfied ones. Word of mouth works both ways, after all, and angry people talk a lot louder than those who had a pleasant experience. If you want the word of mouth advertising that will bring in the business, you'll need to generate it yourself. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the ways to get people talking (in a good way) about your company.
As stated, it's harder to get people who are satisfied and pleased with your business to go out and tell one friend than it is to get one dissatisfied customer to tell the world. This is an inherent trait in most of the human population and it is a roadblock nearly every company most overcome. People love to deliver bad news. They feel they are doing people a great service by telling them to avoid a certain business. In addition, this gives the customer an illusion of power. If they have enough friends and enough scope of influence, it's more than an illusion; it's a fact. Just one angry customer can create enough bad publicity to undue the goodwill garnered by a thousand happy customers. If you want to counteract this truism, you have to go above and beyond to make sure the people who had a good experience with your company go and tell their friends about it.
One of the easiest ways to generate positive word of mouth advertising is to enlist the help of those close to you. Get them to tell their freinds and coworkers about your business. They can do so with full disclosure, or they can act as though they were just customers. Either way can create goodwill throughout the community. If they opt for the full disclosure method (which may be necessary with their closest friends), the people they tell will naturally want to use your business as they will be helping out people they know. If they don't tell people they know you, then they come across simply as happy customers compelled to get the word out.
Since the first days of business, when word of mouth advertising was all there was, nothing has done more for companies than to have people saying good things about them. People believe word of mouth advertising in a way they will never believe paid ads. Even if this word of mouth advertising has to be generated by you in the beginning, it can turn friends, neighbors, coworkers, and their network of acquiantances into new customers. From there, it should be smooth sailing for you and your small business. Just make certain that once you have the customers, you don't dissapoint. After all, that one angry customer. . .she makes all the difference.
Ludacris Word Of Mouth
Incentives can range from gift certificates to purchase discounts to cash payment based on business generated.
The wonderful thing about an incentive program is that it feeds into people's innate desire to help each other. It is rewarding to know an effort has been successful. Be sure to let your contact know when a referral he or she has made comes through.
Give people a reward that they will really appreciate. At my business (a marketing and graphic design company), we often give people a gift certificate for two at a local restaurant. You could also offer a gift certificate to Amazon or to a local theater or wine club.
I've found a gift certificate to be much more memorable than a cash incentive. The reason is simple - these kind of rewards make people feel special. Finding the right incentive can be a challenge, but it's worth it. You will score big by really building your word-of-mouth business.
Here are some different types of referral incentives you can try in your business:
- If you have a waiting room, you can prominently post the names and pictures of people who refer to your business or practice. Give it a heading that proclaims, "We would like to thank the following people for referring a new customer this past month." People are motivated to get their name recognized up on the board and so they will give referrals.
- You can use a direct mail campaign or new customer kit to encourage your customers to send referrals to you. Create an easy-to-complete referral form and a self-addressed, stamped envelope asking that recipients kindly complete the form and return it. You can also include a discount coupon that your recipients can pass along to a friend.
- When you have a sales event, send a letter or postcard or e-mail inviting customers to bring a friend to the event and get an extra discount.
- Offer a gift certificate during the holidays to make gift giving easy for your customers. Give them additional discounts with a coupon.
- Use coupons to encourage new business such as "buy one and bring your friend." Or you can offer a "two-for-one" seminar admission.
- Invite your customers to an appreciation event and ask them to bring a guest. Give them both a special gift.
- Ask your current and former clients to pass your name and contact information on to their circle. When finishing a sales cycle with a customer, ask for referral recommendations.
You'll be amazed at how the action of showing appreciation can generate good will and additional referrals. Once a person gives a referral, they become much more likely to continue to refer people your way. As soon as someone sends you a referral, immediately send them a thank-you gift. A card or quick phone call is the bare minimum.
On the flip side, if a person refers someone to you but gets no recognition or appreciation, he or she probably won't say anything to you. But, the person is likely to make a comment to a co-worker, friend, or spouse: "Can you believe I didn't even get a thank you!!!" And...no more referrals from that source.
ACTION ITEM: Consider your current referral program. How are you generating referrals? What could you do to create a Referral Incentive Program for your business? Developing a referral program now will save you a lot of time later. By encouraging a steady stream of word-of-mouth advertising, you will find you are getting more pre-qualified leads - a groups that is much more likely to make a purchase.
Both Sunil Kumar Kr & Wendy Maynard are contributors for EditorialToday. The above articles have been edited for relevancy and timeliness. All write-ups, reviews, tips and guides published by EditorialToday.com and its partners or affiliates are for informational purposes only. They should not be used for any legal or any other type of advice. We do not endorse any author, contributor, writer or article posted by our team.
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