It’s no secret you obsessively check your small business’s Yelp and Facebook reviews every night before bed, praying you get even just one positive recommendation. But the overwhelming emphasis on social media makes it easy to forget that recommendations still happen offline and in person. In fact, 92% of consumers said they trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising. This is excellent news for small businesses, especially since only 6% of big business marketing executives admit they’ve mastered word-of-mouth-marketing. Unlike large corporations, small businesses can form more intimate and personal relationships with customers. Here are 3 ways small businesses can master word-of-mouth-marketing that big businesses can’t.
Get Involved In Your Local Community
Lucky for you, Fly Emirates has its hands full sponsoring every soccer team in Europ or they’d probably stamp their name on your your six-year-old’s little league jersey as well. But they’re on to something. In addition to building brand awareness, community involvement also garners customer loyalty by associating your business with a warm, feel-good sentiment. There are tons of local opportunities to advertise your brand that you can take advantage of, and this time big business can’t steal your thunder. For example, you can either participate in or sponsor community events like 5Ks, fairs, sporting games, charities, art exhibitions, school projects, or recycling drives. The possibilities are endless! Remember that sponsorship doesn’t have to be expensive–a few hundred dollars is usually enough, plus the long-term benefits will eventually cover the costs.
Get Personal With Your Customers
Any time there’s an opportunity to personally interact with your customers, take it. Unlike big businesses, small businesses can make customers feel special and appreciated by interacting with them on a first-hand basis. Make small talk, get to know their names, their families, their stories. People enjoy talking about themselves, so when you show a genuine interest in their lives (please don’t be fake!), they’ll remember your friendliness and be more likely to bring your name up in conversation with friends and family. Also, always make sure it’s you or an employee interacting with customers. This means, don’t use automated emails or phone calls to notify your customers about incoming shipments or delays. And if you really want to get personal, send out handwritten notes to your customers, thanking them for their business. It’s cute, memorable, and surefire way to put a smile on your customer’s face.
Get Angry Customers To Play Nice
Unfortunately, angry customers are more likely to share their poor experiences with friends and family. But fortunately for you, small businesses are inherently equipped to turn angry customers into happy ones. First, be sure to apologize and offer them a cheerful refund. Even if you think they’re being completely unreasonable, it’s more important to win them over than to win an argument. Second, be sure to understand the root of their problem and attempt to resolve it for them. Make it a learning experience and guarantee them this problem will no longer be a concern. Essentially you should go out of your way to make sure this particular customer is satisfied. And remember, be personal! Once you’ve turned unhappy customers into satisfied ones, you’ve also made lifelong fans who will rave to their friends about the great customer service they received. There’s no way big businesses can go after and fix all the complaints they receive–but you can.
If you stick to these three tips, your small business will undoubtedly
gain new, happy, loyal customers. There are several advantages small businesses
have over large ones that are too significant to neglect. At the end of the
day, customers are much happier to support local businesses that bring money
into their community over large corporations that eat mom and pop shops for
breakfast. Give them a reason to trust you and everything else will fall into
Tamar Shor is the founder and CEO of Wannabiz - the popular app that helps small business owners manage their social media marketing in just one minute a day. Tamar is a marketing veteran with a great passion for helping small businesses everywhere. She is a former McKinsey strategist and holds an MBA from INSEAD. Connect with @Market_like_Pro on Twitter.