If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’re good at what you do. So you have a long line of satisfied, happy clients that you’ve made a positive impression on by delivering excellent service or quality products. But have you considered that many of those customers would also be happy to help you with your marketing?
Your existing customer base is one of the most valuable marketing resources available to you; but if you’re like most business owners, you’re allowing this resource to go largely untapped.
Sure, you may get some occasional referrals. In fact, word-of-mouth marketing may have been the key to your success so far. But, chances are, you’re not taking full advantage of your customers as a marketing resource.
Perhaps you assume that if they love you enough, they’ll automatically send business your way. Maybe you believe that if you ask for referrals or help promoting your business, they’ll think you’re being pushy or annoying, or that you’re desperate. Or maybe you’ve simply never thought of your customers as potential marketers, or don’t know how to enlist their help in the most respectful and effective way.
The truth is, no matter how much you invest in paid advertising, or how great of a job you’re doing with your online marketing, nothing beats a trusted friend or influencer putting in a good word for you.
People may tune out your marketing messages until you get their attention or earn their respect, but they don’t tune out the opinions of people they already know, like, and trust. A Nielsen study found that 84% of people trust the recommendations of their family or friends over any other form of advertising, and that number is on the rise.
In the marketing world, when your happy clients become a mouthpiece for you and spread the good word about your business, we call this “earned” promotion. Essentially, you’ve “earned” likability through your service, reputation, or a respected person’s stamp of approval. It’s one of the most effective and profitable ways to generate the kind of buzz that pays off big time.
So, how can you turn happy clients into your best marketing resource?
1. Get into the right mindset
If you’ve been hesitating to tap into your customer database to help with your marketing, reconsider the way you’re thinking about it. Think about some of your favorite businesses and some of the best experiences you’ve had. Would you be happy to refer them? Yes, because you feel confident that your friend or family member will be well taken care of, and they’ll think fondly of you for making the connection. That’s how your satisfied customers feel too.
2. Deliver excellent customer service
It starts with being great at what you do. Obviously, nobody is going to risk their own reputation by recommending mediocre services and products. You have to “wow” them. The better you treat your clients and customers, the more they will appreciate you and be open to telling others about you.
3. Show your appreciation
Before you even get started, determine how you will reward people who refer business to you. For some businesses, it may make sense to offer a cash or discount incentive in exchange for a referral. But be careful, because depending on your relationship with the customer, a direct reward incentive may cheapen the gesture. Instead, you may want to offer some form of recognition, a sincere thank you gift, a reciprocal referral, or an invitation to a private event. The point is, you want to think through how you’re going to show your appreciation.
4. Identify your raving fans
Who among your customers loves you most? They will also be most likely to know other people who need your products and services. Start with your raving fans, reach out to them directly, and ask for their help. Get testimonials that you can use on your website and in your marketing materials. Create case studies that include their stories and the results you helped them achieve. And have conversations about ways you can support one another.
5.Reach out to your list
Send an email to your list of customers, letting them know you would appreciate referrals or help spreading the word. Maybe you have a big promotion coming up, and you’d like their help sharing about it on social media. Maybe you’re expanding — you have a new office, a new hire, or a new service offering — and you could use their help attracting new customers. Be specific when you make the ask, and some of your customers will be happy to do what they can.
6. Put a process in place
As with any marketing strategy, enlisting the help of clients to spread the word about your business should be part of a process that you systematize to get the best results possible. Determine the timing, message, and tools to fuel your referral engine. When will you ask? Who will you ask? How often? What will you say? What technology will you use? Who on your team is responsible for implementing and tracking?
7. Listen to their input
Referrals and testimonials are only the beginning. Your customers also have a wealth of information and feedback that would be invaluable for your marketing efforts. Their input can help you determine what offerings will be most profitable for your business, what improvements you can make in your products and services, what new pain points you can solve, and specifically what client attractive language to include in your marketing.
Overall, your happy clients and customers want to support your continued success. Make sure they know you would appreciate their help, and make it super easy for them. Give them the resources they would need to spread the word and spell it out for them step-by-step.
Need help turning your customers into your best marketing resource? Give our team a shout.