We all know (at least we hope you know) that word of mouth is the top new business referral source in pretty much every industry. Basically, customers telling friends, family, coworkers and others they know about how great you are is a surefire way to grow your business. It’s the most persuasive endorsement you can get.
Maybe 5-6 years ago, we separated out web marketing and word of mouth as two distinct referral sources. You had people searching for you online, and you had people talking about you offline. But with the explosion of social interaction online, a huge number of those “word of mouth” conversations are occurring via Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and more.
Here are 4 ways to encourage positive word of mouth for your business.
1. Ask for Referrals. In many cases, all your clients need is a gentle nudge or reminder to talk you up. A couple ideas here include a small plaque at the point of sale, a verbal reminder from a staff member, an email reminder to your newsletter list, or even a snail mail postcard to encourage clients to keep talking about you.
Make the action item for the client as simple and specific as possible, such as “Please tell your friends and family about us next time you log in to Facebook!” The key is to keep your business top of mind so that clients take an active role in telling their social connections about you.
2. Get Social. Whether you manage your social channels yourself or have an employee or outside agency doing it for you, always be on the lookout for opportunities on social networks to encourage more referrals.
For instance, say a client tweets “Got an appointment at Beautiful Med Spa the same day and results are amazing. #beautiful.” That’s your opportunity not only to thank them for the praise but to pass it on, replying with something like “Thank you for the feedback! Please keep sharing your happiness with all your friends and family.”
3. Identify Brand Ambassadors. Some of your clients have more connections than others, which essentially means they have a bigger megaphone to say great things about you. In fact, a recent Pew Research study on Facebook found that while the median number of friends on Facebook is 200, 15% of users have more than 500 friends. Those are the clients who can make the biggest difference for your business.
There are at least two ways to tap into this crowd and nurture them into brand ambassadors. One is to do some research on your fans and find the 10-20% with the most active social presence. The other is to identify individual clients who have given you very positive feedback to see how big their social circle is. Clients with a bigger network are likely worth special outreach efforts.
4. Do Something Amazing. This will always get people talking, both online and offline. It could be something small like opening early to serve a client on her wedding day or a much larger campaign such as WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” last holiday season. Really exceptional customer service or social outreach efforts are the most likely to go “viral” online, or at the very least get a lot of positive impressions and comments. Do something that your clients will never forget and they will remember you next time anyone they know is in need of the product or service you offer.