You may have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, your business won’t stand a chance.
Marketing is an essential part of running a business, and it’s often a costly one. Standard channels such as printed ads, radio spots, online banners and PR may require a significant investment of time and money. But “buzz” marketing, or marketing by word of mouth, can be done for free, and it’s a highly effective way to attract customers to your business.
So how do you get people talking? These steps can help you build the buzz.
1. Go above and beyond.
According to a recent Nielsen study, 84 percent of consumers take action based on personal recommendations. If your customers are delighted, chances are good they will tell others, so make a practice of delivering outstanding products and services that set your business apart from the competition. Be personable. Treat your clients with respect and patience. Listen to their concerns and go the extra mile to meet their needs. Even small touches beyond the expected will demonstrate your goodwill and the commitment and care you bring to your work.
2. Encourage reviews.
Online reviews are a huge opportunity to get exposure for your business. Today’s consumers are researching online before making purchasing decisions, whether of a product or service, and 68 percent trust the opinions they read on the web, according to Nielsen.
Yelp, Google-Plus and other popular online directories are a form of free advertising for your business and they reach a large audience. Claim your listings, create a business profile, and ask your customers to share their experiences there. Also encourage reviews on your website. Search engines love customer reviews and will reward your site with a higher ranking in search results.
To increase the number of reviews for you business, don’t be shy about asking your customers. If they are happy with your product or service, they’ll be inclined to follow through. Provide a link, whether on your business card or in an email. Customer feedback platforms such as Get Five Stars make it easy for you to send an email invitation to your customers and for them to respond with a rating and a paragraph or two about their experience.
3. Think out of the box.
Experiment with unconventional ways to pique curiosity and draw attention to your business. Make flashy flyers with catchy graphics and post them at locations where potential clients will see them. Run a contest on social media. Entice participants with the promise of a prize they care about and capture their email addresses for future marketing efforts. Offer free trials, discounts and rebates.
These are just a few ideas to help get you started. Gather your team together to brainstorm creative ideas to try for your business.
4. Be an in-person presence.
It’s easy to get caught up behind the computer with marketing by way of email and social media, but an in-person presence is still the best way to make an impression. Get out and talk to people. Join networking groups and your local chamber of commerce, and go where your prospects are inclined to be, such as conferences, meet-up groups and industry events. Give a presentation or volunteer to serve on committees and within your community—anything to bring notice to your business and get better acquainted. You’ll likely build new friendships and gain some new customers in the process.
5. Engage online.
The Internet and social media offer a wealth of opportunities to engage with clients, understand what’s important to them, and spread the word about your business. Here are some tips to help you build buzz using online channels:
- Find online forums for your industry and freely offer your expertise in response to consumer questions.
- Follow your customers on social media and encourage them to follow you. Respond in a timely way to all comments, questions and especially complaints, and acknowledge mentions with a thank you that shows you value your customer’s business and point of view.
- Listen to what your customers are talking about online and respond with content that addresses their top concerns. Write a post on Facebook or share an article on your website. Honing in on topics that are top of mind can quickly stimulate conversation and sharing.
- Be a guest blogger for an influential person who specializes in your line of work or whose business complements yours. Your reach will extend far beyond what you can achieve alone.
- Join in the conversation every day. Your consistent presence will make you a familiar name and trusted expert among your readers.
6. Keep the buzz alive.
The intent of building buzz is that it will go viral and reach an ever-widening circle of people through the momentum of conversation, but you can keep the word alive by continuously stoking the flame. Make the techniques provided here a routine part of your marketing efforts, and most importantly, continue to deliver on your promises with outstanding products and services that surprise and delight.
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