How to advertise your business using one of the oldest advertising techniques around
I remember when I first found the place in my hometown of Phoenix with the best salads. I told everyone I knew about it and insisted they try it out. Positive word-of-mouth like that can be a powerful force in any business advertising.
Referrals are just about any business owner’s favorite technique in advertising. Plus, these customers come to you with built-in trust for your products or services. Since referrals are so valuable, here are some good ways to make sure you get a lot of them:
- Build a strong foundation. I see many advertisers use direct mail coupons as a way to build their initial customer base – and then do everything in their power to make those first customers raving, loyal fans. They create loyalty programs right off the bat, sign them up for email lists, and ask for “likes” to their Facebook page or Twitter account. They also collect testimonials and use them on their website and social media profiles.
- Be ‘that’ kind of business. I don’t tell my friends about a mediocre ice cream shop, and you probably don’t either. Customers pass on information because they believe you have a great product/service and you treat them to stellar customer service. This combination makes referrals come naturally. If you think there may be room for improvement, find out exactly what your customers think.
- Don’t oversell. Customers are more likely to refer your business when their expectations are met or exceeded. When you dine out or shop somewhere, don’t you recognize that extra effort – the one thing that makes you say, “I will definitely come back here again and tell my next door neighbors, friends and families about this place”? I’m a believer in “underselling and over-delivering” – advertise your business this same way to ensure that you always exceed expectations.
- Make it easy. Don’t overanalyze your business marketing ideas. Sometimes the simplest way to get a referral is to just ask. When current customers share their praise with you – in the moment – tell them how much you’d really appreciate if they would tell their friends and neighbors about the great service or great offer they just received from you.
- Provide an incentive. This is an easy advertising idea – give customers a reason to pass on your information such as “Refer a Friend” discount.
- Network. This too is one of the oldest forms of direct marketing. Sometimes the best people to refer your business are other professionals in your industry. Get to know local influencers. Offer these individuals something in return for recommending you. Tell them that you will refer them to your customers as well.
- Remember your manners. Always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. When customers see how gracious you are that they chose you, they’ll be more likely to do it again.
So, tell me your favorite word of mouth stories in the comments. What tactics work best in your town or industry?