Stephanie Chandler, at Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams, has a terrific idea to encourage word or mouth referrals:
Recently one of my bookstore customers mentioned that she originally learned about my store from her hair dresser. That got me thinking about my own hair dresser and how she’s a great source for finding out about restaurants and shopping destinations. Without even realizing it, she is a word of mouth marketing machine.
It seems to me that there is an opportunity here. Perhaps we should spend some time marketing to hair salons–or at least courting the people who work in them. You can’t beat a word of mouth recommendation and the fact is that we can help that process along by being proactive. I don’t know about you, but my wheels are turning. I think I may send some coupons to the salons in a 10 mile radius of the bookstore and see what happens. It couldn’t hurt!
Would this help in tiny towns, where everyone knows everyone? Sure! Sometimes people need to be reminded, and they certainly want to be thanked and appreciated. So invest some time and maybe some incentives in your potential word of mouth referrers. give them a little something for their trouble, while you’re at it.
Depending on your particular business, your targets could include the people at:
- convenience stores
- liquor stores (we give more directions than MapQuest!)
- newspaper offices
- city offices
- drug stores
- fast food places
I’m sure you can add half a dozen specific businesses in your town that could be or are referring customers to you. Make it easier for them, and make sure they know you appreciate them.
I think this is the key: focus on the people as individuals. A mass mailing will not work as well as dropping in, talking a few minutes and leaving a few coupons. Invest in the relationship.
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