I used to manage a team of interns. One of the questions I’d ask them is “what is the most effective type of marketing.” The newer marketers usually shouted “social media!”
Their confident responses often made me laugh and not because their answer was silly! They’re not wrong to believe social media to be the most effective.
However, when I’d answer them, I’d usually reply with a “word of mouth” response. The second I’d mention a word of mouth many of them would question why.
Its simplicity is overlooked. Not to mention, word of mouth can be combined with any kind of marketing including social media. Imagine having a large social media following and sharing with them your experience at a local diner.
Your word of mouth reach would be far greater!
Reasons why word of mouth is great for small businesses:
- No cost for marketing
- Maximize return on investment
- Higher conversion rates
- Dedicated customers
- Passionate referrals
- Repeat customers
I’m happy for businesses that can market on word of mouth alone without the need for an online presence. They’re proof that you don’t need one to succeed.
I can’t help but think about how much more they could scale if they did. I’ve seen local businesses scale because of their ability to maximize their referral system with bonuses, coupons, and loyalty programs.
I am a firm believer that word of mouth continues to be the best form of marketing. Its effectiveness combined with an online modern presence can’t be beaten though.
What if I were to tell you that word of mouth is great, but an online presence can be just as effective too? You can combine the power of word of mouth with reviews too.
I have a primary example of what I am saying. Ten years ago word of mouth meant that a customer referred a friend or a family member to use your services or product too.
While this concept remains the same, there is more to it. In the past, a simple referral led to maybe a couple of customers here or there. Now, with the internet, that amazing experience can lead to a larger reach of people if used correctly.
Reviews are the New Word of Mouth
With the power of social media, Google, or Amazon, your small business can benefit from an online presence too.
You can think of it this way. When someone writes a review on Google, your word-of-mouth presence reaches a larger audience.
My favorite part about reviews on either Google, Yelp, or Amazon is that they’re organic. You don’t pay for reviews.
Customers are Smarter. They Check Online First.
Your store may be local. However, customers bring their smartphones everywhere.
Customers are smarter. It’s not to say that they weren’t in the past. There are more resources available. You need to put yourself in a customer’s shoes. Would you walk into a one-star place?
Probably not…and that’s okay. This is not to say your store is doomed if you have a one-star online. Sometimes reviews are unfair. I get that!
If your store or product is rocking a one-star, use it as a tool. You can use it as a tool to either fix, improve, or optimize your services.
Customers don’t lie. Sure, there may be a bad customer every now and then. Nevertheless, I like to think of customers as a resource. They’ll give you honest feedback.
Online Reviews Are a Tool
The next time a customer has an awesome experience at your store or likes your product, ask them to write a review. It’s like a recommendation, but far better because you can reach a larger audience.
I typically use the following sites for reviews:
- Google My Business
- Yelp / Restaurants and Local Stores
I’ll give you an example. My friend owns a Spanish restaurant called Spain 92. He’s been in business for 20 years. Most of his customers were referral-based.
Even though he had a good word-of-mouth presence, he struggled to get enough customers to his business.
After focusing his attention on Google reviews, he noticed an increase in his business and customer referrals too.
Check it out! I am impressed. As you can see, he has over 600 Google Reviews. What’s useful to know is that Google Reviews are tracked geographically.
I noticed that if someone writes a review in a nearby city or town, your store is likely to show up in a keyword search that is relevant to what you do.
Isn’t that cool? Either way, reviews are awesome. Your customers are your source of marketing believe it or not. You don’t need to have a fancy marketing scheme or strategy to attract business.
Provide a great service, a solid product, a caring brand, and you got nothing to worry about! Let your customers do the marketing and referring for you!
The best type of marketing is marketing that requires minimal effort and maximum return.