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How to Grow Word-of-Mouth and Referral Business Using the Internet

I’ve asked a lot of small business owners about advertising methods that work best for them.

Invariably, they tell me that the single best source of business is word-of-mouth advertising.

A 2007 Nielsen report confirms that “consumers around the world still place their highest levels of trust in other consumers.”

You can see this in action by monitoring any of the local Yahoo Groups message boards, such as Fauquier County Yahoo Groups, Fauquier Home Educators Yahoo Groups, Fauquier Restaurants Yahoo Groups, etc.

I’d guess that half or more of messages posted on these forums are from people looking for referrals and references to local trusted businesses for specific needs.

It’s obvious that consumers feel more confident about their purchasing choices and buying decisions when they have first confirmed that friends, family members, or neighbors have purchased from a business and been happy with the experience and the results.

But creating word-of-mouth buzz is, itself, time-consuming.  Few small business owners have the spare time needed to attend all the local business networking events, lead share groups, and community social activities that can boost their community visibility and word-of-mouth referral business.

So, how can you maximize word-of-mouth advertising and still find time to run your business?

Helpful Tips

1)  Design all your print advertising with a single goal: to drive people to your website, or an online “landing page,” where they are invited to request access to an internet-only special offer.

To access the offer, customers must first provide their name and email address.  As soon as they provide their contact information, they are immediately directed to a page with a printable coupon, a coupon code, or a special report with information that your customer or prospect will find useful and valuable.

When your print advertising is designed with a sales funnel that:

  1. Entices readers with a special offer targeted to their interests
  2. Leads your readers to your website where
  3. They are invited to  leave their names and email addresses to access your special offer

Then you can grow a highly-targeted list of prequalified prospects who are likely to buy from you in the future.

This method also helps you:

  • Know exactly who is reading your advertising, and responding to it
  • Reduce ongoing advertising expenses
  • Communicate with more customers and prospects more cost-effectively, and more frequently
  • Establish your trustworthiness and expertise through regular email contacts
  • Cultivate loyal customer relationships through educational messages and invitations
  • Enhance your business reputation
  • Grow your word-of-mouth advertising and referral business

What if you have a shoestring advertising budget?

If you don’t want to spend money on print advertising at all, consider investing in a professionally-designed website that:

  • Is easily found on page one of Google search results
  • Is attractive and engaging,
  • Is easy to use,
  • Answers questions and educates your visitor about your capabilities and expertise,
  • Includes testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers.

A website  that is “designed with sales in mind” can generate hundreds or thousands of visits to your “online storefront” each month.  Those online visits will likely lead to more phone calls,  more requests for appointments, more visits to your store or restaurant, and more sales and profits.

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Could you use some expert marketing assistance?

Yvonne Herbst builds Websites That Work and creates revenue-boosting online sales funnels for Northern Virginia businesses.

For a free consultation to learn how you can increase sales and revenues with internet, social media and email marketing strategies, call Yvonne Herbst, 540-937-7235.

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