Word-of-mouth marketing is great for every type of business, but it truly is the life blood of small businesses. Not only is traditional advertising more expensive, small business owners and entrepreneurs operate with the understood advantage of being able to offer personalized service the way big brands simply can’t. In a crowded market, this assumption helps small businesses compete, and it makes people more likely to recommend a business they’ve tried to a friend.

But how do you encourage word-of-mouth marketing? Coming right out and asking every one of your clients to send their friends your way feels awkward — as well it should, since that how it makes your clients feel too. These requests should be individualized, because there are a lot of variables to consider: What if they didn’t actually have a great experience with you? What if they’re not the type of person to talk about things they’ve bought with friends? What if they would have recommended you on their own, but now they feel like it was your idea and no longer feel compelled? Murky waters, to be sure.

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Do you ever wish there was an effective and efficient marketing strategy out there that could bring you new customers while at the same time building loyalty with your current ones? Poof — wish granted.

Referral marketing is a seriously underutilized method of driving traffic and revenue by small businesses, likely because of their limited time, budgets, and tech resources. But the good news is that referral marketing doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. Your program can be as simple or robust as you’d like — the important thing is that you have one.

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