Given the power of word of mouth, a happy customer
is potentially the ultimate salesperson. So how do you help them to spread the word?
According to a 2012 global Nielsen survey of more than 28,000 internet respondents in 56 countries, 92 per cent trust recommendations from friends
and family above all other forms of advertising. The second most-trusted source is online consumer reviews, at 70 per cent.
A happy customer is worth their weight in gold. However, it can sometimes be difficult for people to tell others about their great experience. You might have a tricky name or a website address that is difficult to remember, or the customer might not be able to explain your products very well.
One business owner who was determined to harness word-of-mouth recommendations is Lisa Koba, owner of Cheeky Little Soles. Frustrated by the lack of choice in footwear for babies learning to walk, Koba started a business seven years ago selling soft-soled shoes for infants and toddlers. “At the time, my daughter was very young and the business grew very quickly. I’m insanely organised, so I’ve used this skill to juggle parenting with running the business.”
About 75 per cent of the business’s sales are wholesale; 25 per
cent are online sales. Koba started to offer e-commerce fairly early
on, as many rural areas don’t have ready access to a physical
stockist and most stockists only carry selected lines.
Koba pays special attention to her online orders so that Cheeky
Little Soles makes a great first impression. “We try to ensure that online orders are beautifully packaged and presented,” she says.
“We have found that word of mouth is a really great referral system
for us, especially since parents often have friends with children of a similar age.”
In addition to sending a beautifully packaged product, Koba also includes branded postcards and brochures with each order. These can be handed on to other parents and also encourage customers to make repeat purchases.
Koba says: “I did a business course fairly early on and the trainer said that you should never be afraid to ask for referrals. I decided to take that to the next level and include a postcard and additional brochures. Our customers may or may not remember the business name, but they pass on the brochures to their friends and parents’ group members.”
The Cheeky Little Soles cards and brochures are designed by a graphic designer that Koba has worked with for five years. They have an engaging look and feel that is an extension of the website design. Koba also says that it’s important to consider how much detail you include, to encourage potential customers to visit your site or call you for more details.
“In our brochures, we include images of the products being worn by babies,” she says. “We also include information on sizing because babies’ feet vary so much. We try not to overload people with too much detail; they can find much more information on our website.
“We get a lot of repeat business, as well as referred business.”
Selling tools for happy customers
- If you’re already printing brochures or flyers, make sure you add one or two to each delivery.
- If you don’t have a brochure, create a postcard or business card that’s easy for customers to carry and hand out.
- Include a sample or two that customers can give to others. (Alternatively, Australia Post offers the Send Me service, where interested shoppers can request a sample by SMSing a code word.)
Useful tools and resources
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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