Are you wondering how to start a business off on the right foot?

Entrepreneurs who figure out a way to profitably market their businesses succeed. One important thing to keep in mind is word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth is basically when a satisfied customer gives a recommendation of your business to others.

Word of mouth marketing is a very effective marketing tool. Better yet, as a small business owner, you can create a good word of mouth reputation on a small budget.

Here are some very cost-effective techniques for how to start a business by generating word of mouth marketing:

1. Offer top-quality products and services.

People have to like what they’ve bought from you before they will sing your praises. Make sure that your products and services live up to or exceed the expectations set by your advertising, sales pitches, and the industry standards.

2. Focus on customer service.

Every business wants you to believe that they have great customer service, but only a very small percentage that actually does. The Golden Rule applies here: treat others how you would like to be treated. There are some simple techniques that you can employ to ensure that you are providing excellent customer service. Smile at customers and make eye contact. Be polite. Listen to them and answer their questions. When possible, have a real person answering the phone. Return phone calls promptly. If you are a service provider, complete projects on time and on budget. Keep your customers informed about changes and delays.

3. Be friendly.

Smile and say “Hello” to customers when they come into your store. If you know a customer’s name, use it. Engage in small talk. These small things help put customers at ease and make them more willing to buy from you and to speak well of you.

4. Stick to the facts.

If a customer has a question about your product or service, try to avoid using jargon or slang when answering them. Also, don’t talk down to customers who may not understand what you are saying to them, especially if you deal in something technical or complex. Use factual, simple explanations and pass along any product descriptions you have available.

5. Stay in touch.

Use email to regularly communicate with your customers. If you offer them useful information or discounts, they will be more willing to tell other people. Also, it will remind your customers who you are and will promote repeat business.

6. Be visible.

Take steps to become more visible to your market. For example, join networking or industry groups frequented by your customers. Attend meetings and events for those groups and talk to people while there.

7. Socialize.

Activate Social Media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and LinkedIn. Focus on channels that are most likely to reach your target audience. Post and share content regularly. You can also consider adding paid ads or promoted posts.

8. Get involved.

Become involved in your local community. Sponsor events or youth sports teams or volunteer your time at charitable organizations. Associating your name with these events will help build a positive reputation for you and your business.

9. Make your name and contact information easy to find.

Take advantage of your website, business cards, and even your company vehicles to clearly display the name of your business and your contact information. Customers need to know who you are and how to get in touch with you.

10. Refer business to other non-competing businesses.

If you refer your customers to other non-competing businesses, those businesses will be more likely to refer business to you.

In summary, when you are strategizing how to start a business don’t forget the power of the people. Building a good reputation through word of mouth marketing can be a powerful tool to grow your business for little to no money.

photo credit: Mary Ann Clarke Scott, photo credit J Scott
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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.