One of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses large and small is Word of Mouth. A recently republished blog at Service Quality Institute cites a study focusing on large companies that shows a 1% overall company growth for every 7% increase in positive word of mouth.
Wow! Imagine what a 1% growth generated entirely by your own customers’ words would mean for your small business!
It might be easier for you to achieve that 7% increase than major corporations like Honda, or T-Mobile that were cited in the study. You have direct control over your customer service and support, a major component of the satisfaction that leads to great word of mouth advertising.
By collecting your customers’ words of satisfaction, you can share their positive experiences well beyond their circle of friends and acquaintances. Many small businesses have a guest book where they encourage people to share comments, but often the only people who see them are people who take the time to read the guestbook!
1. No matter what your small rural tourism business is, put a guestbook near your cash register, or a place where people congregate in your business. Use the guestbook to capture names, email addresses and comments. Note that you might be using comments on your web site and in your advertising. Consider putting a check box for people to check if they don’t want to be identified by name.
2. Post the comments in on your web site. Change or add new endorsements often, putting them in the places on the site where their message will most likely impact your prospective customer’s buying or reservation decisions.
3. Type up and frame the best comments and hang them around your business if you have walk-in traffic. If you have loyal customers who frequent your business often, consider including their photograph with their comment… with their permission, of course.
4. In a retail establishment, use comments about a specific product as a “review”. Bookstores have been doing this for years with excellent results.
5. Expand your in-store product reviews by asking your employees to post a review of their favorite products. Whole Foods Supermarkets allow each employee to select one product a month to take home, try, and be able to talk about with customers. That’s a bit much for a small store, but you might consider a variation of this – discounts, once a year choices, product testing etc.
6. Always incorporate endorsements into press releases and advertising. A satisfied customer endorsing your business and services is much more powerful than your brochure style descriptions.
Take action around those endorsements and positive comments. If you have any other ideas for expanding word-of-mouth advertising, be sure to share them by leaving a comment here.