Eight tips for boosting word-of-mouth marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly important for businesses in the construction supply chain. In an industry where reputation and expertise matter more than price, recommendations are king. In fact, some businesses have told us that referrals can account for the majority of new custom.
If you’re concerned that word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t seem to be working for your business any more, it’s a big deal. This (almost) free marketing is often the easiest way of gaining new customers or clients.
Here’s how to improve your word-of-mouth marketing efforts and turn your loyal customers into eager brand advocates.
The first rule of referrals is that to gain them, you should ask for them. Depending on your business, this can be a through a marketing email, a social media campaign or a quick mention in-person. Remember to be specific: ‘do you know any other contractors looking for a new timber merchant?’ instead of ‘don’t forget to tell your friends about us!’
#2 Carry referral business cards
Hand out these business cards to loyal customers next time you see them in-store or on-site. Referral cards are a constant reminder of your business and its referral program.
#3 Plan referral bonuses carefully
You may be reluctant to lower the price of your services to referred prospects if they account for a large proportion of your business, so consider the types of incentives that the referrer and the referred party actually value – and what you can afford to provide. Maybe only offer the discount on purchases beyond a certain threshold, or offer the referrer a cash bonus when the threshold is reached. Limit discounts to a certain time period after the referral is made so that you aren’t losing revenue in the long term.
#4 Track referrals using software
You’ve got two main options here: a DIY spreadsheet or specialist software. Try the former before investing in the latter. Use this software to find out where referrals originate and the value of new clients gained from each referrer. This’ll help you refine the structure of any formal referral program you have in place as well as seeing if your current program is actually worthwhile.
#5 Publicise your referral program on social media
Social media is all about sharing and building networks, so definitely publicise your referral program on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The analytics provided by social networks give you valuable insights into your target market and how referrals are gained.
#6 Encourage feedback (particularly complaints)
Customers like telling stories where a business solving their problems. Maybe they complained about the cluttered store layout and on their next visit it was changed. Perhaps a customer had to return a faulty item and the retail assistant resolved the issue quickly and was incredibly polite and apologetic.
Give your customers and clients plenty of avenues to make complaints. Most importantly, you must respond to these complaints and make changes where necessary. This approach will provide your clients with experiences that are often shared with friends and potential business prospects.
#7 Tidy your online presence
When a prospect receives a business recommendation from a friend or colleague, they won’t instantly decide to become a customer. Instead, they’ll do some more research – or at least a cursory Google search. Type your business name into Google and see what newcomers will encounter. Tidy up the sites and profiles you have control over to make a good first impression.
#8 Provide a good service
It’s not rocket science, but you can’t hope to gain referrals if you don’t provide a good service. Fix this problem before you start planning complex referral schemes or buying specialist referral tracking software.
Creating, implementing and managing an effective referral program is hard work. If you need a hand getting such a scheme up and running, you know where to find us…