So you’re a store owner; a smaller non-chain retailer, unique to your community with a brand of your very own. If you've been trying to keep shoppers loyal to your small business and out of the big chain stores, you're not alone — but how do you market your store and merchandise to a broader audience without breaking the budget? Identifying and implementing affordable ways to market and advertise your business may seem daunting, but with the broad spectrum of online marketing channels available, you now can market your small business with little cost to your bottom line by connecting with online word of mouth marketing channels.
Become A Larger Voice in Your Industry
Start with growing your online presence by executing a content marketing strategy in your industry. If you haven’t already, add a blog to your website and start creating blog posts about things relevant to your audience’s interests, cravings, and lifestyle that your store caters to. Broaden the reach of your content by also posting to your social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more — connecting in as many ways possible with people interested in your business. And be visual with your content. Focus on sharing images of new products that you're excited about. Share your passion with a small write up accompanying the photo. Take pictures of your staff with content describing why they love working at your store. Sharing your enthusiasm can be contagious with your audience, and spreads word of mouth marketing in your local community when people interact with and share your content.
List Your Company in Online Business Directories Where People are Talking
When someone searches your industry or hears about your store and searches you on the Internet, make sure you’re listed properly and abundantly. Get listed on business directories where people can share word of mouth marketing for your store: Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Angie’s List, City Search, and many more. Not only will your store be found in more places online, but these listings encourage user feedback which is more free word of mouth marketing.
People today are more active than ever across all aspects of digital commerce - from making purchases via mobile phones to receiving text and email alerts that convert to Ecommerce. Make sure your website can be accessed by mobile and tablet devices, and make sure your store’s online listing can allow people to ‘check-in’ to your store using location-based social networking on their phones. A ‘check-in’ shows advocacy for your store and is broadcast freely to your customer’s social networks, becoming another channel of free word of mouth marketing for your business.
Cultivate and Show Off Your Customer Testimonials
Your customers are your best form of advertising. Ask for, collect, and display customer testimonials where your audience congregates on your website, mobile site, Facebook tabs, and in email campaigns. Add a ‘Fan Board’, ‘Pic of the Day’, or ‘Customer Stories’ page to your website to make this great word of mouth marketing content searchable on Google.
Need to gather more testimonials? Collect customer pictures and shout-outs directly from your website using a small form on your homepage or in emails to your customer base.
You could even keep a tablet device handy at the check-out counter displaying your store’s Facebook page with happy customer comments and ask customers to share their advocacy on your Facebook Timeline while shopping in your store. Or, take it a step further and run a contest or giveaway promotion on your website and social media accounts that ask for user feedback to boost word of mouth marketing and testimonials.
All of this takes focus and determination, but earns your store’s most persuasive advertising - word of mouth marketing – without breaking your budget.