Word-of-mouth – be it online or offline – can help to attract new customers and increase revenue. While it’s always flattering when clients want to introduce you to their friends and colleagues, companies need to be equally mindful of unflattering buzz that may impact business growth.
An infographic from Referral Candy released earlier this month shows 92% of consumers surveyed say recommendations from friends are their most trusted referral source, followed closely by online consumer opinions. How can small businesses and entrepreneurs capitalize on these golden opportunities? Start by following these easy steps:
Encourage social sharing
What can you do to motivate clients and customers to share their experience with their social communities? While nothing beats a good, old-fashioned incentive, taking simple steps such as displaying your social media handles and any affiliated hashtags on event signage, creating challenges and/or small contests and letting people know that you want to hear what they have to say can all help to generate positive word-of-mouse. Think about the comment cards you oftentimes see at restaurants. While some restaurants go so far as to say “Talk about your experience on Yelp” others simply say “we value your feedback” and leave it to their stakeholders to determine the best avenue for sharing.
Create a loyalty program
Rewarding positive word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse can help clients and customers to feel like their endorsements are appreciated. When you host a monthly drawing for a chance to win an experience (event ticket, meet-and-greet, etc.) or offer a small referral incentive, it can help to strengthen brand loyalty.
Return the favor
Do you make introductions and help open doors to new business for your own clients and customers? Being reciprocal can help to generate more of the word-of-mouth referrals you are looking for. The key is to make sure that you are making introductions to the right people. You don’t want to waste your own time going down the wrong path in pursuit of business and the same can be said for your clients and customers.
With the fourth quarter approaching for many businesses, now is a great time to evaluate which business leads came from word-of-mouth during the prior year and how your company can generate more of those one-on-one introductions during the upcoming year. When you get a referral from an existing customer you get the “seal of approval” from someone who knows your company and the work that you do, increasing the likelihood of any referrals being qualified leads.