Word-of-mouth marketing is most trusted by customers that corporate advertising pales in comparison. Nielsen reports that only 53% of consumers trust content posted on websites while 92% trust peer recommendations.
If you are running a locally-based business, it is essential to connect with nearby customers and community influencers.
Thinking local is also beneficial for national companies. Coming up with campaigns to boost your existing customer base through strategies focused on user-generated content can help your business reach new audiences. You can do this by partnering with brand advocate bloggers. Treat them like employees by offering incentives and briefing them about your campaigns before making them public. This enables you to extend the company message at a local level.
One powerful way for a business of any type to tap local networks and reach potential new customers is to partner with local bloggers. Careful supervision should be implemented during the recruiting and engagement process so you're confident that your bloggers will generate the right content for you.
Here's how you can generate local buzz and get bloggers involved and interested in your brand:
Know who the influencers are. Before talking to local bloggers about potential partnership opportunities, read their work thoroughly first to see if they are a good fit for your business. Build long-term relationships with them.
Use hashtags strategically. Twitter is a good place to build engagement and exposure for your brand. Look for a local hashtag that fits your business and include it in your tweets. This helps you begin a community of similar local businesses, affiliates, and customers who can retweet your messages and mention you.
Find ways to connect offline. Tweetups, or local meetings or gatherings organized via Twitter, are becoming very popular. Make sure that your Twitter handle is displayed prominently on your website to encourage customer mentions and don't forget to retweet positive messages. At the same time, don't ignore criticism. Respond to it in a timely manner to quickly resolve any problems.
Tap location-based services. Google+ Local and Foursquare help boost locally-based businesses' visibility in local searches. Optimize your page by listing important information about your business, uploading photos and videos, offering promos, and asking for customer reviews.
Always ask for reviews. Customers are encouraged to give reviews when you ask for them. Don't forget to thank them for their time once the review is posted.
Reward customers for their help. Motivate your customers to spread the word by creating a referral program that rewards customers for referring others. There are also other programs you can use like "Fan of the Week", and featuring your customers online as a form of recognition for being the most vocal advocates.
Build social communities. Reach out to your loyal customers through social media. Offer promos, first-looks, and discounts to your audience for sharing your message. Feature the links to your social communities on receipts, walls inside your business location, menus, your website, vehicles, and other advertising channels.
Your loyal customers are your greatest marketing asset. Word-of-mouth marketing is the lowest-cost method to promote your business. So take care of your advocates and they will do the talking for you.