How to attract customers through positive word-of-mouth.
Word-of-mouth is powerful. Both online and offline, your business reputation is shaped by what customers think and say about you. In a 2014 survey by Ogilvy, Google and TNS, 74 percent of the respondents indicated that word-of-mouth is the No. 1 influencer of their purchase behavior.
Reputation Leads to Revenue
A good reputation creates customers, and a consistently positive customer experience drives revenue, whether your business is an e-commerce site or a physical location. Two ways to enhance your reputation and tap into this cycle are to build thought leadership and to take thoughtful action.
Build Thought Leadership
Studies indicate that people respond positively to brands and businesses that regularly provide them with useful information. A first step is to consider the types of customers you’d like to attract, and then listen to them. Here are some online tips:
» Join LinkedIn groups in which your target customers are members, and follow the conversations.
» Visit the Facebook pages of businesses similar to yours, and observe how they interact with their followers.
» Set up Google Alerts on topics that interest your target customers, and identify information you can provide to them.
Once you’ve identified interests, consider the ways you can deliver relevant information. You can share content from other sources or develop your own, in the form of e-newsletters, blogs or informative emails.
If you don’t have a company Facebook page or a permission-based email list, start developing them—they’re valuable tools.
Providing helpful information offline also enhances your reputation. Jack, a financial services professional, frequently connects clients and prospects to resources in his network. If someone needs a Realtor, cleaning service or electrician, Jack knows one. He’s known for being competent and helpful, and his customers regularly make referrals and provide references. Jack consistently exceeds his revenue goals.
Take Thoughtful Action
In both e-commerce and physical businesses, customer appreciation encourages positive word-of-mouth.
» Thank your customers for their business with a personalized communication.
» Identify the types of customer behaviors you want to encourage,and reward them.
» Ensure that customers consistently have the best possible experience with your business and brand. Start by reviewing and streamlining your processes to benefit customers. This is especially important if you’re rebuilding a damaged reputation.
» Listen to and learn from their comments and conversations online.
» Own your customer service, good or bad. Respond to problems quickly and demonstrate your integrity and willingness to see the situation from the customer’s point of view. A sincere, good-faith effort to make it right for your customer can turn an issue into a positive experience.
In 1910, Elizabeth Arden borrowed $6,000 from her brother and opened her first shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City. That single location is now a billion-dollar, global cosmetics company with her philosophy, “Repetition makes reputation, and reputation makes customers.” Building a positive reputation takes work that’s worth the effort.