No matter what the size of your business, growth is what is important. Whether you want to expand locally, nationally or even internationally, growth is the only means to do so. But what is the best way to promote business growth?
Last month T-Mobile, as part of their ‘Business Sense’ campaign, carried out a survey on business growth, via the social networking site, Linked In. On of the polls carried out asked participants what they feel is the most important factor in driving business growth.
Overall, 64% of participants felt that word of mouth was the most important factor for driving business growth, with advertising coming second with 21% and a great website third with just 14% of the votes.
As the poll was specifically asking about the initial start up period, it is easy to see why the percentage was so high; people buy from people so word of mouth is a great way to grow your business.
In fact, when the data was segmented in to company size it became apparent that this figure rose to 88% of enterprises and 83% of large businesses that felt word of mouth was crucial to business expansion.
I am a great believer at looking and learning from big businesses in order to help succeed as a small business; and in this case I believe the big businesses have it spot on – word of mouth is absolutely vital to successfully grow a business. Although I would place significantly more emphasis on the importance of a great website; no matter how much people talk about your company and people visit your website, if your website is difficult to navigate or hard to read visitors simply won’t convert to customers.
Word of mouth is a significantly more successful marketing tool than advertising; not only that but it is also cost-effective; which is a necessity for business start-ups. Word of mouth best comes from existing customers; excellent customers service and products will turn customers in to fans who will talk about your business to their friends, family and business network.
Make sure that your customer service is up to scratch, though. Just as word of mouth can have a tremendously positive effect on your business, if something goes wrong it can be devastating. Therefore, always ensure you listen to disheartened customers and deal with their problems to the best of your ability – and where possible turn a negative in to a positive.
Always give your customers the chance to leave testimonials about your business; encourage users to visit your Facebook Business Page or to Tweet you about their dealings with your company. Potential customers trust other customers, and many turn to Social Media to engage with previous users of services. Make sure your business is there!
The Business Sense survey is not only interesting, but also gives small businesses an advantage of big businesses. More often than not there is so much red tape to negotiate that big businesses find it difficult to achieve the level of customer interaction necessary to generate word of mouth around their businesses.
So, in a world where the opportunities were once all in the hands of the big business, now, the most beneficial business growth tool is at the feet of the small business – grab it with both hands and grow your business.