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Three Steps to More Word-of-Mouth -- and More Business

May 14, 2012
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223548

Three Steps to More Word of Mouth and More Business

In the days before social media and the Internet, it wasn't as easy to listen in on your customers' conversations about your company. Nor could you easily encourage people to spread the good word about your business through word-of-mouth.

But when you connect with your customers online, you stop speaking to them and start talking with them. And wonderful things begin to happen. Those golden word-of-mouth moments that happen naturally offline at parties or networking events suddenly begin happening online right in front of your eyes on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and review sites.

On social networks, word-of-mouth referrals become amplified: the friends, families and networks of your customers see these referrals and might just beat a path to your door.

How does it work? I call it the engagement marketing cycle.

The engagement marketing cycle has three parts:

It begins once you've attracted a prospective customer or client to your business. This first point of contact can happen at your physical location, website, Facebook Page, trade show booth -- anywhere the conversation turns to business.

Related: Six Tips for Mobile Marketing to Engage Customers

Although relatively simple, the steps in the cycle are quite powerful.

Step 1: Provide a Wow! experience
As a small or midsize business, you have an advantage: You can create personal connections with your customers by providing extraordinary every single day. How? Consider these examples:

Step 2: Entice to stay in touch
When you create a great customer experience, your customers will be more willing to remain in touch with you. You can't keep that great experience alive, though, if you have no way to stay in touch.

You can ask people to "like" your Facebook Page, follow you on Twitter or subscribe to your e-newsletter to name a few things. To feel comfortable asking people to connect with you -- like, follow, join, subscribe -- it helps to have a solid enticement, such as a preview of your content, and a reward or offer. Some fun enticements include:

Step 3: Engage people
Now that you've delivered a great customer experience and have enticed people to stay in touch, it's time to bring those relationships to life by engaging people. "Engagement" means sharing content that inspires your fans, followers, email subscribers, blog readers and other online contacts to interact with you.

Related: Six Tips for Maximizing Email Marketing Campaigns

Creating engaging content is limited only by your imagination. Whether your audience is other business owners, consumers, or donors, here are five general types of content you can use to engage your customers:

And that closes the cycle's loop. Developing this cycle until it's a well-oiled machine will keep your customers and clients connected to your business, increasing your repeat sales. But the biggest benefit is endorsement -- that golden word-of-mouth moment that drives new customers to your business.

This article is excerpted from Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World by Gail Goodman (Wiley, 2012). 

Related: 5 Ways to Build a Solid Email Marketing List