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The Purest Form of Marketing is Customer Service. Your Customers are Your Community

If you take care of your customers really well then you will turn them into your evangelists. Businesses with good products and services will be able to ‘WOW’ their customers and build a community of consumers who will be excellent referrals. Here are a few examples I have come across:

Online buzz matters (even for an off-line business)
A few weeks ago I met a 72-year-old business owner in Chicago, Illinois, Carmine, who runs Carmi’s Crown Barber Shop in Downtown Chicago. He does not own a computer and does not connect and surf the web. I found him online through a Google search which led me to yelp.com where his customers had given his business a review.

He earned my business by just focusing on giving good haircuts and entertaining his customers with jokes and tales. This experience was amazing and prompted me to blog about it on Small Biz Survival.

It is a clear illustration that even though 50% of small businesses do not have a web presence1 they could still be online through reviews and online discussions by their customers.

Friends matter
The second story is about a friend of mine, Vinod, who is the chef and co-owner of the Indique Heights restaurant in D.C. I have been giving him advice on participating in social networks and he subsequently set-up a Facebook page. When a local Washington, D.C. magazine did a story on local outlets on Facebook they mentioned him and commented that he had only a few ‘friends.’

Vinod told me that he started getting calls from his regular customers who read the story and said that they would be honored to friend him on Facebook.

In both these stories the common theme is that the customers of both these businesses felt motivated enough to do something for the business. That is true marketing. Word of mouth is not going away—it may be replaced by “word of mouse” (David Meerman Scott).

Business owners need to track and gain insight into the way their customers are talking about them. Here are a few tools to use to gain insight into the conversations about you.

  • Keyword Alerts: Go to Google Alerts and set-up alerts in the name of your business, your name. You have the ability to specify when you want to receive these alerts.
  • Twitter Search: Go to Twitter Search and periodically search for mentions of your business. Do not be disappointed if your business is not mentioned, sometimes that is a good thing. Also try common misspellings of your business name.

Your customers are talking about you, whether you are listening or not, and even if you are not online. They have already formed some type of community around your product or service. There are many tools that can help you listen-in and hear what they are saying, if you are ready. At Network Solutions we recently conducted a Social Media Tools Workshop for our customers. I’m happy to share the slides with the readers of Verbatim: please feel free to take a look and comment here if you have any questions.

1 Small Business Success index University Of Maryland and Network Solutions Jan 2009 – Growsmartbusiness.com

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