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Fifteen Ways to Promote your Business through “Word of Mouth”

Ideas to Target Your Ideal Customer

Most new business owners have limited financial resources for marketing and promotions. That’s why it’s essential to prepare a marketing plan that includes a thorough understanding of the target market including the best way to promote your business to that market. Though it may seem possible that anyone will buy your service or product, it will soon become apparent that there is a typical customer or target market. Ideally, this customer type will buy repeatedly and refer others.

Take some time to determine how this ideal customer most often selects a product or service such as yours. You can get this information by asking customers “How did you hear about us?” You can also study your competition or see what advice your trade association offers. Don’t be fooled when businesspeople say their customers find them by “Word of Mouth.” Word of Mouth implies specific actions you can take to drive customers to your business. What follows are fifteen examples of how to promote your business using Word of Mouth.

Remember, first understand everything you can about your typical target market to select the best promotion methods most successful for your business. Here are fifteen great ways to promote your business:

1. Give a Sample

Whether you offer consulting, gardening services or a great salsa, most people would like a chance to sample before making a commitment.

2. Offer a Coupon

A coupon is another way to get people to sample what you sell and feel they’re getting a deal with that first sale. It’s also a way to get people to buy more.

3. Sponsorships

Most customers appreciate your generous support of a little league team or a fundraiser of their favorite nonprofit. Make sure your business name is listed prominently and, if appropriate, bring a flyer or list your website to drive business later.

4. Give a Presentation

Service clubs, like the Rotary Club, often look for speakers. Ideally, provide a short talk that demonstrates your expertise while giving your listeners new information they can use. Don’t be too heavy-handed with the sales pitch but provide your listeners with a flyer or your website to learn more and find you later.

5. Write an article

Much like the presentation, a written article in a club newsletter or writing a guest blog, demonstrates your expertise while providing information people can use. Be sure to leave your email or website so readers can contact you later.

6. Form a Network and Exchange Leads

Once you identify your target market, examine who else sells to this typical customer. Meet regularly with other businesses to share information about prospective customers and get referrals from the network members. Be sure to vet your network participants to only include reliable, quality businesses.

7. Joint Promotion

Similar to the referral network, find a business you trust to share promotions. Offer a special deal coupon at their site and display that partner’s promotion at your site. This works best when you have the same target market.

8. Improve Your Signage

If you have a storefront, ask others to provide objective feedback on the appearance of your entrance. A sidewalk tent sign? Balloons? Bright colors and attractive displays near the entrance? Make sure everything is spotless, colorful, and inviting to passersby. Promotions don’t work if people can’t find your entrance.

9. Savvy Social Media

If your target market finds a service or product like yours online, you must have a web presence. Pick one or two social media methods that are most used by your prospects and post regularly. Your social media should be interesting,  informative, funny, and shareable. Do more than post ads for your business.

10. Develop a Database of Customers and Send a Newsletter

Offer a drawing in your store in order to collect contact information from your customers. Be sure to ask permission on the form to send a mailing. Cultivate regular customers with special offers, wish them a happy birthday with a coupon or freebie, and send them an informative newsletter with local news, recipes, or featured stories. Your business will be brought to mind whenever they receive your newsletter.

11. Provide a Giveaway Item With Your Contact Information

If your target market needs to keep your business information handy to use later, provide a “keeper” giveaway such as a calendar.

12. Join a Club or Network of Your Customers

Networking with potential customers where they meet socially or for business, indicates you’re willing to do the extra work of developing customer relationships. Effective networking takes time and effort. Those who use a networking event merely to pass out business cards, are rarely successful.

13. Ask Existing Customers for Referrals

Your existing customers are your greatest source of new business, but you have to ask. Reward referrals with a warm thank you note, flowers, or a special deal. Ask for testimonials from your best customers and get their permission to use their compliments in your marketing materials.

14. Booth at Community Events

Show your support for your community by renting a table at an event or sharing a booth with a business partner. Use one of the methods described here like Give a Sample or Offer a Coupon at the event to drive business afterward.

15. Volunteer

Serve on the board of a nonprofit you care about or volunteer at a fundraising event. This method is similar to Join a Network of Your Customers, giving prospective customers a chance to get to know you, while you’re doing good in the community.

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