The Warm Lead
As a small business owner, getting leads to new customers is always a top priority. While building awareness of your business with marketing and advertising is helpful, word of mouth marketing is the most powerful way to gain and keep customers.
Friends and family always talk about positive business experiences; it’s natural–they want to send each other to the best shopping experiences. If your business provides that awesome experience then your customers will sell your business for you. Others will believe friends or family more than your marketing campaign because your customer is speaking truth from experience. Word of mouth marketing is how warm leads are generated.
Unlike cold leads, where you have to convince the customer to buy, a warm lead comes to you ready to buy. They already know how wonderful your product or service is. All you have to do is deliver that wonderful experience again.
Control Customer Experience
If you want to receive a positive referral you have to provide a positive experience! Note I said experience and not just positive product or service. The experience is the whole story and includes your storefront, the employees, the service…it’s your entire business.
This starts with thinking about how you can create a remarkable experience for every customer that comes through your door. What can you do to make their day brighter beyond a measly discount? In Made to Stick the Heath brothers offer countless stories about Nordstrom employees, or Nordies, who create these remarkable experiences for customers through simple acts like opening doors, offering to wrap Christmas presents, and even referring customers to competitors if they don’t have a product in stock.
Think about how you can add value for each customer beyond your product or service. This value creates the memorable experience that keeps your customers coming and bringing their friends.
This high quality experience involves your employees, too. They are, after all, representatives of your business. In Referral Engine, John Jantsch details how your employees are key in crafting customer experience. If your employees promote your business and focus on providing good customer service then they are crafting more and more positive customer experiences.
Monitor Customer Experience
Listen and hear about your customers’ experiences. There is a lot to be learned from both positive and negative ones. What you don’t want is a lukewarm experience; it causes your business to be forgettable.
To avoid lukewarm experiences, have a clear and simple value proposition that is easy for customers to understand. This sets their expectations right where you can exceed them For example: “Kettle bell training helps with weight loss, leads to increased energy levels, improves athletic performance, and is only a 20-minute workout!” If I’m a busy person trying to stay in shape then I’m going to try the kettle bell workout.
In the case of a positive experience be sure you note everything that contributed to it, and make sure that everyone at your business knows what elements created that positive experience. Get testimonials from customers that had positive experiences, and refer to them when dealing with future customers.
If someone does have a negative experience, be sure to address it, but not defensively. Get to the root of the problem through a follow up conversation. Was the negative experience because of an employee or was the service just below expectations? Every customer has a different threshold when it comes to quality and will have expectations that are either met or go unfulfilled. A small business owner’s responsibility is to figure out what the expectations are, if they can be met, and how meet them each time.
The bottom line: Generating warm leads is all about creating a positive impression and experience in the minds of your existing customers, and following up with those customers. Putting effort into creating warm leads will save you time and money on advertising and marketing, and help you build a strong business filled with happy customers who can effortlessly do the hardest part of your job: bring people to your business!
Many ideas referenced in this blog post were inspired by Evan Lange’s presentation Building a Brand that Brings Referrals. Check it out!