High Desert Daily
(Victor Valley)–There is plenty of gloomy updates from traditional media on the state of our economy, but we, as a community, can choose to look for the great things we CAN do, right now, to improve our economic outlook. In a new weekly column, the High Desert Daily is bringing positive news and ideas that may be useful for your High Desert business. We welcome your comments, ideas and questions in the comments and for future columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Word of mouth advertising is a gold standard, especially for small businesses. Getting the average High Desert resident to skip the perceived convenience of a big box store, or take a chance on a brand they don’t see commercials for can be a challenge. Recommendations from people they know and trust is the strongest way to cut through the fear of the unknown. Nielsen surveys consumers every year to understand how they make their buying decisions and which channels are most trusted. Word of mouth consistently comes up as the number one channel, with 76% of respondents indicating they trusted it to make purchases.
For many years, word of mouth literally meant telling someone about your experience. With the increasing reliance on social media in our lives, that sphere of influence is increased by however many “friends” we have. Instead of waiting until you see me at the grocery store or a community event to tell me about the cool new restaurant you’ve discovered, you can message me and many others about it on Facebook.
As Facebook continues to make communicating with our friends and acquaintances easier and faster, it is increasingly important for local businesses to make their content relevant, accessible and sharable. Links, photos and videos are especially useful for this. Encourage customers to talk about their positive experiences and if you have a physical location, give them a check-in bonus on Facebook.
Here is an example from my own life. Several months ago, we ate at Franky’s Diner in Victorville. I checked in on Facebook with my mobile phone and said
“Out for dinner! finally get to check out franky’s! — at Franky’s Diner.”
A conversation on Facebook ensued, leading to a full scale review and six friends liking my check-in. Another friend on Facebook ate there a few days ago and also checked in. A great conversation about how good the food is followed. Franky’s Diner is doing a good job in their business, as is evidenced by our positive recommendations. But their presence on Facebook and check-in ability allows customers to spread the word right then and there.
There are new tools on the market that will reward your customers and their friends for recommending your product online. Curebit is an early start up in this arena and seems to be a great tool for e-commerce sites. When a customer purchases, an opportunity to share that purchase with a social media network automatically pops up. If the customer chooses to share, they get some kind of cash back or discount. Their friends also get a discount. With metrics to measure efficacy, this has a lot of potential to mobilize an army of word-of-mouth champions. If your business doesn’t have an e-commerce component, though, there can still be great ways to leverage this idea. The tried and true referral bonus encourages clients to spread the word. If you can find a way to share that on Facebook or other social media platform, you can multiply the impact significantly.
During boom times, customers seem to just find us. When budgets are a little tighter, we need to be proactive in making it as easy and attractive as possible for our customers to become raving fans and spread the word.
If you are a local business owner, how are you making it easy for your customers to spread the word about how great you are?
And if you are a High Desert resident, how are you sharing about your support of local businesses through social media?
Alyssa Penman is the owner of a local small business, RelyLocal.com – Victorville, CA. An earlier version of this article appeared on her blog, Local Business Spotlight.