Marketing can be expensive. With so many options and avenues, it can take a long time to really find the right ones for your business. However there is one form of marketing that will always provide results and often has little or no outlay costs. It’s good, old fashioned word of mouth or “referral marketing”.
"People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising." Mark Zuckerberg
So how does this apply to your business and your marketing plan? Let me answer that question with a question, because we all love that. Are you encouraging existing or past clients to talk about you or ,even better, to rave about your business? You may not realise it but as Mark Zuckerberg’s quote states, people are influenced most by the people close to them because at the end of the day a lot of business and buying decisions are based on trust. So how are you capturing and utilising this in your business and in your marketing?
One of the most obvious ways is to ask for testimonials. The more you have the better and the more genuine and relatable they are, the more people are likely to take them seriously. Consider embracing the world of videos and ask for video testimonials too. These can be placed on your websites, landing pages, YouTube channel and all will go that one step closer to gaining the trust of those who may not know about you yet.
You can also encourage people to be advocates of your business by incentivising them. Now I’m not talking about “paid for comment” style incentives but more along the lines of encouraging people to share their awesome experience with your business through a referral program. Referral programs not only create a sense of inclusion with your client base but they also show that you appreciate their advocacy and want to reward it. They more than likely aren’t expecting anything for saying how amazing you are and sending people your way but if you create a program that rewards your advocates, watch your referrals go through the roof. Let’s look at an example;
“Sarah owns her own salon and knows she has a number of clients who always send her new business. She wants to encourage this by offering them a discount for each new client they refer to her salon. Sarah contacts the printer she uses for her business cards and arranges to have some generic referral cards made that she can give to her best clients. Each card has a space for the client’s name to be printed on it so that when the referral comes in, Sarah can record where they came from and offer an appropriate discount to the referee. The new client is also offered a “new comers” discount on their first service at the salon and encouraged to take part in the referral program too.”
With the popularity of social media and sharing sites like tripadvisor and yelp you can also capitalise on and leverage your existing client base. Translating your offline referral program to an online referral program can be tricky but the access and exposure you can get from them could see your business go to a level you had only dreamed of.
People love to talk about their experiences on online but this can be blessing or a curse. A single bad review can have far more impact than all your positive ones, simply because it places doubt in the mind of the potential client. Some sites allow you to view your reviews before they are public but most don’t so you need to make sure your levels of service are consistent and exceed the client’s expectations.
Nurturing and growing your advocates is all about leveraging the trust of your existing clients and applying it to new ones. People always value the opinions and experiences of those closest to them when it comes to making a buying decision, so if you can create an environment that not only encourages them share these experiences but actively drive business to you, you will attract more of your ideal clients and the flow on effect will be extraordinary.
This article was prepared by Ant Ulijn, Social Media Extraordinaire and Values Alignment Expert from emanation. If you found this information useful, please comment below and make sure you like us on Facebook for more great content like this.