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Can A Small Business Manage Word of Mouth?

March 13, 2008

We’ve talked a lot about word of mouth. But it begs the question, can a small business manage word of mouth to help generate referrals and build sales? Well, gL Market Research wouldn’t be in business if we didn’t think so. So much for shameless promotion.

But seriously, more often than not, small businesses just accept referrals as they come without ever really trying to understand how they get them, why they get them or where they come from. Small business people I talk to have a general sense about their referrals but no real plan for how to manage them.

Referrals are the outcome of positive word of mouth. The individual or business that referred you was sufficiently impressed with some aspect of your product or service to the extent that they would potentially risk their own credibility to recommend you. Don’t let them down. Treat that referral like your only customer. Not only will you gain a new customer, you’ll make your original customer look good to his friend, reinforcing his status as an influencer.

Make sure to thank the referrer and if possible send him a thank you note or offer a discount on a future sale, anything to acknowledge his efforts. It will help the relationship and may be enough of an  incentive for him/her to continue sending you business.

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