It’s easy to be sucked in by the allure of cutting-edge online marketing methods, especially given the fact that 59 percent of small businesses get their clients via SEO activity and 33 percent get them through social media.
However, while online marketing is an important way to market your business, it’s not the only way. Actually, it’s not even the best way.
In fact, word-of-mouth marketing seems to be the most effective method of marketing for startups, as the same research cited above found that 85 percent of small businesses find new customers through the grapevine, so to speak.
If you want to maximize sales, then, you’ll want to encourage your staff members and customers to spread the word and refer your products and services to their friends and acquaintances.
By the same token, if you want to attract the necessary talent to staff your organization, word of mouth can help you there as well. Employee referral programs are a key source of quality hires.
On that note, here are a few tips to help you get your employees and customers to act as ambassadors for your brand:
1. Build a Workplace That People Love
One of the main reasons why staff members refer their friends to a business is because they like working at the company – not because they want to be awarded referral bonuses. So, if you want to encourage your staff to refer new employees to you, concentrate on building a great workplace they will be keen to share with the people they care about.
Then, once you have built a working environment that employees are proud of, your next step is to set up a formal employee referral program. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here: There are plenty of readily available employee referral applications that you can use to set up an effective program in no time.
2. Make Products and Services That Your Clients Can Be Proud Of
Let’s face it: Your customers are not going to refer their friends to you if you offer a substandard product or service. Worse still, if your products and services are bad enough to anger people, they may spend time actively bad-mouthing your offerings.
These days, the overwhelming majority of consumers are heavily influenced by the reviews and opinions of other buyers. So, if you want to encourage customers to market your services, you need to start by building an offering that wows people. Your goal is to move your customers so much that they can’t wait to share their positive experiences with other consumers online.
Another way to motivate customers to share their experiences is to offer a customer incentive scheme. Consider giving existing customers bonuses, discounts, or free services in return for their referrals. This won’t be enough to get dissatisfied customers to refer, but it should encourage happy customers to recommend you over a competitor.
Whatever you do, make it ridiculously easy for your customers to refer. The slightest barrier will likely stop what little momentum they have in this department.
3. Give Your Staff Some Time to Blog and Post on Social Media
Gone are the days when the marketing department owned every step of the marketing process. Heck, chances are that your startup doesn’t even have a dedicated marketing department yet.
Your employees are experts in their respective fields, so encourage them to blog regularly about your company. Let them publish posts on the company website and encourage them to share company information and updates on their social media profiles.
And, of course, if there’s a job opportunity open, they might want to market that, too.
Using your employees and customers to market your business is just too good an opportunity to miss. Today’s consumers – and your potential employees – are more trusting of peer-generated reviews and recommendations than of the content produced by marketing departments. Your employees and existing customers, then, have far more influence over potential clients and hires than you may have ever imagined.