Getting people to talk about, and talk up, your business is the kind of publicity money can’t buy. Word-of-mouth recommendations for your products and services are essentially free advertising, and when economic times are tough, that’s the best kind of advertising you can have.
While good service and products are important factors in getting people to pass along recommendations to others, it doesn’t hurt to do a little extra. Think about what your business has to offer, and with some creativity you can structure a campaign that will create buzz for your business and goodwill in your community. Many of these efforts do not cost a lot of money and use existing products, knowledge, and resources.
Becoming a trusted advisor or authority on a subject is one way you can provide a service to the community and put your business in the forefront. For example, a pharmacist can write an advice column for the local newspaper offering up wisdom about common drug issues (e.g., over-the-counter treatments for poison ivy, or myths about treating a cold). This establishes the businessperson as a trusted local authority and the community is served in a meaningful way.
A contest is another good way to drive people to your business. For example, a contest that encourages good habits among children, such as participating in athletics, reading, or recycling, gives your business exposure while making a contribution at the same time. The goodwill alone is worth the cost of the prizes.
With easy access to blog software and online newsletter services, it is efficient, easy, and inexpensive to communicate with clients. The proliferation of social media has transformed word-of-mouth communication to warp speed. Businesses are turning to Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and so on, to share customer reviews, information on new products, and how-to advice.
Movies and photos are easy to upload to blogs and newsletters, providing myriad ways to show potential clients what you have to offer. An insurance agent could offer advice on how to lower car insurance rates, while a hardware store could produce a short video on how to repair a window screen. Free advice is always appreciated, and when customers need services your business offers, chances are they will recall your business as the authority.