Friday, October 16, 2009

Your Reputation Has Preceded You

Your reputation has preceded you. That’s right. We’ve been talking about you.

(Published at Working From The Basement - )

And it’s not just us at WorkingFromTheBasement (WFTB). Heck – your customers, your neighbors, your fellow business owners – they’re all talking about you. As scary as this is, it can be a secret to your success.

For good or bad, word-of-mouth is unstoppable and the most powerful form of advertising. Small businesses tell us that 80% of their new clients result from referrals. And these clients are more profitable since they take less time and effort to close. They’re also more likely to result in future referral business.

Here are some hard-learned reputation marketing tips from successful CT business owners:

1. Current customers are a good place to start. Let them know you welcome referral business.

a. Ask them for referrals early and often.

- Make it a habit.

- Bring it up in conversation and during your follow-up contacts.

b. Reach out to your past customers as well as neighbors, friends. The 20% of them that give you 80% of your new clients are like gold. (See Pareto Principle, also known as the “80/20 Rule”.) You should continually stay in close touch.

- Use phone, mail, email and face-to-face

- Consider a structured rewards/loyalty program.

2. Chambers and networking groups are great. So hit the road.

a. Meet with other owners face to face at networking groups.

b. Put yourself out there – get beyond the shallow networking chat.

c. Be a hub – invite other owners to attend. Be a friend to your fellow networkers.

- You’ll be happier.

- Work will be more fun.

- And, by the way, you’ll probably have more of it.

3. Capture the buzz. Networking is great, but limiting since you can only be in one network meeting at a time.

Remember that while you’re chatting over coffee or adult beverages, your customers and neighbors are “out there” talking about you. And they’re doing this more and more on social media sites.

So multiply your efforts by connecting with your customers and your network on a social site

a. spend 15 minutes a day. Start slowly – it will get easier

b. Facebook is the most widely used social site

c. You might prefer Twitter – it compliments Facebook and makes it easy to find and follow more people you may want to connect with

d. Social media guidance is available

These steps cannot make your reputation. Your skills, enthusiasm and attention to your clients’ needs do that. But by employing these tactics you can allow your reputation to spread, increase word-of-mouth referrals and generate profitable new sales.

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