Word-of-mouth marketing has always been a powerful selling tool. Yet, in today’s world of social media, it has become absolutely essential for the success of a business. Positive news can travel fast via Facebook, Twitter and online reviews, while bad news can travel even faster! One single customer can sing your praises or deliver a scathing critique instantaneously.
Because of our ever-increasing connectivity, small businesses now have a unique opportunity to capture market share from their larger competitors. By combining top-notch customer service with innovative strategies and relationship building, even a solo entrepreneur can generate valuable excitement and buzz around what he or she has to offer.
Happy customers not only come back; they tell others about their experience. In a nutshell, they become fans who can literally help you market your business to others. How can you infuse enough enthusiasm into your customers to transform them into raving fans? Here are a few key ways to get them cheering for you:
Never Stop Focusing on Customer Service
Exemplary service will always be fundamental to customer satisfaction, regardless of tech innovations. Social media is great, but good old-fashioned service is still the most important component to building long-term relationships and keeping customers happy.
Give Customers Opportunities to Tell Others
You can’t expect your satisfied customers to do all the work for you. You have to encourage them to share their experiences with others. By providing them with the tools to write online reviews of your business or to share your information via links, you can begin to leverage the benefits of viral marketing.
Build an Emotional Connection
Relationships aren’t based on just great service. Customers also want to feel a connection with your business. To do this, you not only must have a well-defined brand but need to be passionate about what you’re doing and truly care about those who are buying from you. Customers should feel your passion, as well as feel like a part of your organization. This requires listening to them, valuing their suggestions and continuing to delight them with new products, services or offers. And, when things go wrong, you’ll also need to be able to go out of your way to apologize and redeem yourself quickly.
Show Your Personality
Customers want to get to know the people behind the brand. Through blog posts, Facebook conversations, tweets, emails and, of course, more traditional forms of customer service and marketing, you can showcase what makes you and your team worthy of having fans.
Target Your Efforts
Let’s face it. You’re probably never going to get every customer to be an active, lead-generating fan. While it is important to use outreach to grow your customer base, it’s equally if not more important to focus on nurturing the relationships you have with existing fans. Target your efforts on caring for these special individuals who serve as your brand ambassadors. Thank them generously and ask for their opinions on ways that you can improve. By doing so, you will not only strengthen your ties to these VIP customers – you’ll gain new fans, as well.
Although there’s much to be gained by developing a well-rounded marketing plan that includes a variety of outreach efforts, having a marketing strategy that encourages customers to become fans is of particular importance. By doing so, you’ll not only raise the quality of your customer service but will gain valuable brand advocates who will enable you to compound your success.
Originally published May 03, 2011, updated Oct 28, 2020