If you want your business to grow, it can come down to a few essential principles. Offer an outstanding product or service, fill a need or solve a problem, provide great customer service, and make sure everyone knows about your business.
Sounds simple, right? It isn’t. But let’s look at them individually because there is more than meets the eye when you start to get into details.
There’s lots of businesses that get by with a mediocre product or service, which is fine for some. But to experience real growth, you want to offer something that stands out, for a few reasons. It can create word of mouth, generate referrals, and help you grow business. Refrral marketing is a business strategy that can give you an edge – but you have to be offering quality for it to work.
A strong business should not only differentiate itself by trying to be the best in its market, it should also have demand by either solving a problem or filling a need. Even if it seems obvious, it isn’t for all. Possibly in hindsight, but by then it might be too late. Startups launch all the time, and small business can be a risky venture, and doing your due diligence to ensure a need is there is not a step to skip.
A Foundation for Referrals
If there’s one thing that’s within your control it’s providing great customer service. The value of this and how it can impact your business is not to be underestimated. When you exceed expectations, you can turn consumers into customers, customers into returning customers and sometimes advocates. When this happens, you can might benefit from word of mouth referrals and online reviews that bring new business, help with SEO, and driving growth for your business.
To make sure others know of your business requires marketing and advertising. Friends and family can only spread the word so far, so it’s important to look at how you’re going to get the word out in order to create awareness, attract interest, and generate sales.
Over 95% of consumers go online when looking to research a local product or service, and within the search results you will see a recurring theme many often miss. When it comes to local search, about 93% of the results contain the Google 3-pack in them. Also, it’s review sites that occupy most of the top spots.
While you can try things like paid search and other strategies, there’s one that isn’t used as often worth exploring. Using online reviews can create quality referrals for your business that tend to convert well. These are not difficult to generate, not cost prohibitive, and something that most businesses are not doing, which is an opportunity for you.
When it comes to reviews, about 88% of consumers trust them as much as recommendations from friends or family. Yet only around a third of businesses make use of them.
Getting Started With Referral Marketing
One study (Brandmuscle) found that about 56% of local retailers have not claimed their Google My Business (GMB) listing, and 66% had not claimed their Yelp profile. With these being some of the most prominent review sites found, it presents an opportunity for businesses that are proactive and take initiative.
Often said but not always done, be sure to listen to the customer. When one expresses a concern or complaint, in many ways they’re doing you a favor, since it’s about one in 25 to 30 that ever say anything. The rest remain silent and just disappear. Using online reviews to monitor, as well as manage and respond, allows the opportunity to listen to those concerns.
While you can’t please all of the people all of the time, you should hear them out. When it comes to small business social media and reviews, you should also do your best to respond as well, because others are reading those reviews, and how you handle issues along with the efforts made to alleviate issues is sometimes to tipping point for other consumers to becoming your customers.
Creating Referrals and Reviews
Make no mistake, it isn’t easy to get positive reviews for your business. It’s not just a question of asking for them, you have to earn them.
Most businesses don’t ask, making it even harder. The few that do, which is about 30% of businesses, often only inquire or request reviews from a customer once. The reality is that it usually takes more than one request to acquire a review. When a customer is satisfied with your product or service, as much as 70% say that they’re willing to provide a review when asked, although about half eventually do. But again, most don’t ask, or only asked once.
But another issue with actually acquiring the review is that it often takes more than one request. People are busy, or the timing was off, or a variety of other reasons. Which is why using a review management platform with automated reminders is essential to getting more reviews.
The Power of Reviews
Most consumers interested in a local product or service will turn to a search engine to discover their options. Within the local search results is the Google 3-pack, which appears 93% of the time. This includes the reviews and ratings you’ll see when you use search for a restaurant or plumber or salon or other local options.
Your online reviews not only influence potential customers, they also influence local search results. In a study by Moz it was suggested that signals from reviews contribute significantly to how a business appears in local search results.
Not everyone gets it right, and in one study (Bain) about 80% of the companies believed they did provide superior customer service, but only 8% of consumers agreed in attitude towards these companies.
The ability to generate referrals and online reviews all starts with a quality product or service, and great customer experience makes your business stand out and lead to a consistent ability for you to get more clients.