How do your customers find out about your business? A few years back Verizon in conjunction with Small Business Trends magazine posed that question, among others, to small business owners in Philadelphia and the answer was something any spa or massage practice owner or manager should consider. Among survey participants, 85% indicated that their customers learned about them through “word of mouth.” None of the other marketing or advertising activities, such as local newspaper ads, direct mail, social media, etc., even came close.
Here are some other statistics that show just how important word-of-mouth marketing is to your spa or massage practice:
74% of 2500 consumers who bought products in the auto, beauty and smartphone category identify word-of-mouth as a major influencer in their purchasing decision. (Ogilvy, Google, TNS)
84% of respondents globally in an online survey say word of mouth recommendations are the most influential (Nielsen)
Such surveys underscore the importance of referrals from current clients to keep your appointment book full. Clients who value your services and are enthusiastic about them, such as therapeutic massages, for example, more than likely will be happy to tell others. While many may already be helping to drive referrals without your prompting; you’ll want to be proactive and let clients know you’d appreciate their help in promoting your business. Don’t be shy about it.
However, if you have a client that has an outstanding business or social network and would love to tap into it, before asking for referrals, take a reading to make sure your request will be received positively. Try asking for feedback first about your spa or massage practice services to determine if there are any issues – even minor ones - that need resolution. Not all clients are forthcoming about matters that bother them. Ideally you want clients to refer business with a 100% endorsement of your massage or skin care treatment services without any caveats, even small ones.
Tips for boosting referrals
Considering the importance of referrals in boosting business, formalize the referral process to ensure that you are maximizing the potential of your word-of-mouth marketing.
Give thanks with a gift: When a client refers business, thank them with a gift. It could be samples of retail at-home offerings or a discount on a treatment. Another option is to add on a service gratis, such as offering a foot massage after a skin care treatment.
Promote the referral program: When you formalize your referral program with a gift or discount, let others know. Talk about the program in social media channels and other marketing materials such as in a newsletter or direct mail or e-mail marketing piece.
Website site: Add a link on your website that takes clients to a form that they can use to submit referrals they suggest you contact. The form should provide space so the client can provide details on the individual, such as information on the prospect’s particular need and experience with other providers, if relevant.
Customer testimonials: Clients also may be amenable to providing a short testimonial about your services, which you can include on your website or in marketing materials. Asking a client for a testimonial is a good way to suggest that you are seeking new clients, too.
Word-of-mouth marketing definitely pays off. Make sure it’s a key component of your marketing effort.