If you’re like most humans, you love to talk. More specifically, you love to gossip. Not only is it something we do every day, gossip can be an incredibly powerful motivating tool. As an entrepreneur, you need to take advantage it.
So how do you encourage people to talk positively about your business? In this post I’ll walk you through four things you can do to encourage people to gossip about your business.
Note, this is a companion to one of JuniorBiz’s most popular posts ever, Negative Word of Mouth Spits Like Wildfire.
1. Offer Insanely Good Customer Service
Have you ever talked about a positive customer service experience? Probably.
There’s a legend where a Hilton Hotels staff member (let’s call him Brian) noticed that one of their customers (let’s call him Eric) left his briefcase in the lobby. Brian tried to catch Eric on his way out, but he was already on his way to the airport. So Brian followed him to the airport. Couldn’t find him. Got on a plane right behind Brian, and delivered the briefcase to him once he arrived at his destination.
That’s an example of insanely good customer service. Whether or not it’s true, that story has been told countless times.
As a young entrepreneur, you can’t do that. But what you can do is provide a service that’s far greater than any of your customers could expect.
For example, I was designing a site for a client last summer and couldn’t fulfill part of the contract. Before he had a chance to be disappointed, I knocked $250 off of the job. That’s the kind of customer service that people talk about. And even if he doesn’t talk about it, it made me feel good.
Wildflowers will spread if they’re on fertile ground.
2. Tell People Your Story
People love a good story. As a young entrepreneur, you have a good story. Share that story with your customers so they can talk about it.
A couple years ago, this kid came to my school to talk about his t-shirt business. His name was Johnny and he started selling t-shirts with cupcakes on them out of the back of his car. He branded his business as Johnny Cupcakes and now he has three stores/bakeries. Including one in Boston and another in Los Angeles.
Have you ever heard of Johnny Cupcakes? If you have, it’s because he has an awesome story that people like to tell.
It’s not so much that people like telling stories. They have to get something out of it. They have to be part of the story. And the fact that they hired this awesome kid to do something puts them in the middle of your cool story.
For example, if you start selling t-shirts out of the back of your car and expand to stores across the nation, you need to make sure people know that. It’s remarkable and people want to be a part of it.
Wildflowers will spread easier if they have more seeds to share.
3. Offer Referral Programs
There’s a reason the Internet is saturated with referral/affiliate programs. It’s because they work. And they work just as well offline.
Northwestern Mutual, a well-respected financial services company, promotes themselves through referrals. They give you a free financial assessment session. In exchange, they ask you to consider using their services and to introduce them to three people who could benefit from a financial assessment.
That’s right. A company that has been around for over 150 years and made $22 Billion in 2008 builds their client base almost exclusively through a referral program.
What does this mean for you? Tell your customers that if they refer you and your business to someone else, you’ll offer your customers a discount.
For example, if you offer a house painting service that charges $1,000+ per house, tell your customers you’ll give them a $100 gift card for every customer they refer to you. Then they have a vested interest in talking about your business.
Wildflowers will attract more bees if there’s an incentive to spread their seed.
4. Ask People to Talk About You
People are much more likely to do something if you ask them to do it. Asking your customers to talk about your business and refer other people to you is something you should always do, assuming you offer a good product or service.
A couple months back I was introduced to a fella named Eugene Aronsky and his site that helps you find cheap books. I quickly noticed that Eugene wasn’t afraid to ask people for small favors (like recommending him on Mr. Tweet). At first it seemed a little pushy, but you know what, I wouldn’t have done it unless he asked.
Asking people to talk about you might not be as effective as the other methods, but it’s a good place to start.
For example, if you have a blog and have a couple high-profile blogging friends, don’t be afraid to ask them for a favor every once in awhile.
Wildflowers will spread farther if they know that’s what they’re supposed to do.
Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, period. To encourage positive word of mouth you need to start with offering an exemplary service. Telling people your story, offering referral bonuses and asking people to talk about you will only add to the gossip.
I’m curious. What else do you do to encourage positive word of mouth? What about when someone’s upset? How do you deal with an angry customer?
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Warning: The next post on JuniorBiz will be a giveaway! I’ll be giving away a free copy of an actual, tangible book. That’s right. Something that will come in the mail and you can hold in your hands. But you can’t win it unless you come back.