Using Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Barbara Weltman A happy customer is your best marketing tool. Use the customer effectively to grow your market share. Here’s how.

Bond with your customer base

Keep things personal with your customers and clients. Staying in touch – by telephone, correspondence or e-mail – can reinforce good relationships. This, in turn, can lead your customers to talk favorably about you.

Even as you grow, many customers appreciate a word from the business owner, rather than someone on staff.

Reward referrals

Induce your satisfied customers to bring more business to you through referrals. The contact-to-business return on referrals is high compared with cold calls and costly direct marketing campaigns – the close rate on qualified leads (referrals) is 60%, compared with just 10% on nonqualified leads (cold calls). And the cost to you is relatively small – you may need to give something in return for referrals, such as a discount for future business or a small gift.

You can condition your discount or gift on business generated through the referrals.

Concentrate your referral request campaign on your best customers, the ones you know to be satisfied and loyal. Ways to obtain referrals…

  • Ask for referrals from customers you know have had a good experience. Provide a mechanism for getting these referrals – slips that can be filled out and returned to you. Tell customers you want to count on them for this assistance.
  • Enlist customers as your ambassadors – give them extra business cards and brochures they can distribute to their acquaintances.
  • Run a customer referral contest – provide a substantial reward for the person who brings you the most referrals within a set time.
  • Offer to make referrals to customers in return for their referrals you.
  • Host a referral party. Have each of your good customers bring a friend to an after-hours party at your place of business. An event offering wine and cheese or other light refreshments at the end of the workday can draw your customers and stock you pipeline with prospective customers.


    If you use Microsoft Outlook, you can use its Business Contact Manager to track referrals. When entering a business contact or account, complete the “Referred By” field so you can identify the source of the referral (e.g., customer referral, seminar, etc.). Other contact programs provide similar tracking for referrals.

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